Translated, with an introduction,
by Elizabeth Petroff
University of Massachusetts
St. Umiltà was born Rosanese Negusanti in 1226, the only child of the wealthy and noble Elimonte Negusanti and his wife Richelde. Although born in Faenza, she is also associated with the city of Florence where she was the famous abbess of a Vallombrosan convent and where she died in 1310.
Born into a wealthy and noble family, Rosanese was precocious in her piety and at an early age wished to dedicate herself to a religious life. Although she had refused several high–ranking suitors whom her family had chosen for her, her father died when she was about thirteen and her family's changed financial circumstances made it necessary that she marry. She seems to have loved her husband, Ugolotto de' Caccianemici, with whom she had two children. The first–born, a son, died shortly after he was baptised and a second son, born a few years later, also died in infancy. When her husband fell ill—probably of a venereal disease—and was told to abstain from sex, Rosanese convinced him that they should both enter religious orders. As a nun in the double monastery of St. Perpetua in Faenza, she took the name Umiltà or Humility.
Twenty–four years old when she entered the convent, Umiltà eagerly pursued an ascetic life and four years later she left the monastery to become a recluse attached to the church of St. Apollinaris in Faenza. There she remained for the next ten or twelve years. A few of her sermons date from this period. At the age of thirty–eight she was divinely commanded to leave her enclosure and to found a number of new houses, first near Faenza and then in Florence. It was in the convent in Florence that she spent twenty–one years and where she died in 1310 at the age of eighty–four.
Umiltà's vita2 was written between 1311 and 1332 by Biagio, a younger contemporary and a priest in the same Order. According to him, she was miraculously granted literacy in Latin shortly after her entrance into St. Perpetua and dictated her sermons3 to one of her disciples, Sister Donnina. Nine of these meditations in prose have been preserved—one of them contains a number of Lauds to the Virgin Mary in verse—in which she uses her personal experience as a basis for teaching others, sometimes through a kind of prayer–dialogue and sometimes through parable. The first three sermons are primarily doctrinal and were probably written between 1281 and 1310, while the other six are closer in form to prayer and meditation. These later sermons, cast in the form of a dialogue between Umiltà and God or between her and various saints, may have been written or delivered during her ten years as a recluse when she was beginning to gather a circle of disciples around her, notably St. Margherita of Faenza.
Fr. Biagio's vita, based as it is on canonisation documents gathered in 1332 and on the oral accounts of witnesses to her life, presents Umiltà's life as an unqualified success, since only success could justify her unconventional and independent actions. In contrast, her own writings reveal the near despair she often felt at public criticism and at the enormity of the responsibilities she had assumed. She repeatedly ignored the rules for enclosure in order to found new houses by escaping from her first convent at night and later leaving her recluse's cell, since she was often required to live among secular people while building was going on. She must have been physically very tough as well as strong–willed for she made a pilgrimage to Rome with St. Margherita for the jubilee of 1300 when she was in her seventies. It was also around this time that she helped with the building of the convent of St. John the Evangelist in Florence by gathering building stone from the bed of the nearby Mugnone river.
Umiltà seems to have been guided to an unusual extent by heavenly beings; she also broke more rules than usual. Her sermons—in themselves an unusual activity even for an abbess—reveal a woman who feels herself surrounded at all times by angels and saints and invisible forces who protect and advise her. Since teaching was considered to be unseemly and reprehensible for men, her biographer goes to great lengths to validate the authority by which she asserts her teaching role. She was at a disadvantage on three counts: not only had she learned to read as an adult, she wrote and delivered sermons in Latin—a male language—and preached on doctrine—male territory. Her biographer sees this as evidence of a miracle:
It was a thing marvellous in all respects to see the blessed Umiltà who had never learned letters, not only reading at table ... but even discoursing and speaking in the Latin language as if she had studied much in it, dictating sermons and lovely tractates on spiritual things in which there appeared profound doctrine [and] very skilled verbal expression, even when speaking of the more sublime mysteries of sacred theology .... It is to be considered ... that her words were not so much accomplished by her as dictated from heaven by the Holy Spirit.
Umiltà also sees her sermons as divinely inspired; although embarrassed at her own audacity, she is absolutely confident that God's knowledge speaks through her:
I am amazed and fearful and I blush concerning these things that I dare to write and dictate, for I have not read them in other books nor have I applied myself to learning human knowledge; but only the Spirit of God has spoken in me who fills my mouth with the words that I ought to speak.
This passage, which is quite typical of Umiltà's style, uses seven first–person verbs: the polysyndeton miror et timeo atque erubesco is also an example of the accumulatio that governs the entire paragraph. In effect, the content asserts that she is only a vessel for God's word while the rhetoric affirms a speaking I.
The titles of Umiltà's sermons give some idea of her range and concerns. On the Birthday of Our Lord is a meditation on spiritual preparedness for the feast of Christ's nativity; The Angels; or, A Tract on the Court of Paradise tells of her visionary experiences and reveals the intimate relationship she felt with St. John the Evangelist; Divine Things is a meditation on divine and human love; Most Devout Lauds in Honour of the Virgin Mary combines verse and prose in an exposition of Mary's importance for her and for her audience. The Prayer of Weeping and Lamentation tells of her dark night of the soul in which she felt the weight of her spiritual responsibility for others. In Honour of Jesus Christ is a cry for help in her difficulties, while Lauds for St. John the Evangelist explore the meaning for her of St. John's role as the beloved of Christ. In Praise of St. James the Apostle evokes the welcome in heaven given to St. John's brother.
The life and writings of St. Umiltà are important for a number of reasons. Her life was a long one and in the course of it, she played most of the roles available to mediæval women. She was a mystic, a healer, and a teacher. In the secular world, she was the pious but indulged daughter of wealthy parents, then a wife and a mother. When she joined the monastic world, she was first a canoness living in an Augustinian double community and then a recluse living alone next to a church. Her coenobitic life began when a new community of other recluses began to gather around her, and when she set off to found new Vallombrosan houses in Faenza and Florence, she was accompanied by a loyal group of disciples who remained close to her for the rest of their lives. Her particularly intimate relationship with St. Margherita of Faenza gives us an unusual glimpse of the kinds of strong friendships mediæval women might develop, friendships that undoubtedly helped them to even greater heroism.
Umiltà's remarkable mastery of Latin in the sermons and the incisiveness of her teachings deserve a full study. Her colloquy with God the Father is a very rare type in Christian mysticism, while her understanding of love in its violence and erotic directness, which is reminiscent of the beguines of northern Europe, is unlike other Italian mystics until the time of Catherine of Siena.
Chapter I: Concerning the Spirit by Whose Instruction She Wrote and her Two Guardian Angels and her Patron Saint, St. John the Evangelist
It was a thing marvellous in all respects to see Blessed Umiltà—who had never learned letters—not only ready at table, as is told in her life, but even discoursing and speaking in the Latin language as if she had studied much in it, dictating very beautiful sermons and tractates on spiritual things, in which there appeared profound doctrine, expressed in the aptest words, even when speaking of the more sublime mysteries of sacred theology and with the most lucid description of the unfathomable glory of the blessed. Among these writings are found outstanding discourses on the Divine Incarnation, the nobility and offices of the angels, praises of the Mother of God and of John the Evangelist, of St. James and the guardian angels. What is to be considered, first of all, is that her words did not so much originate from her as they were dictated from heaven by the Holy Spirit; for that, as God ordered it, she herself pointed out in various places in her sermons. For example, Sermon III says:
I am amazed and fearful and ashamed concerning these things which I dare to write and dictate, for I have not read them in other books, nor have I ever applied myself to learning human knowledge; but only the spirit of God has spoken in me, who fills my mouth with words that I ought to speak.
Moreover, in the second sermon we find:
It is to be noted by you [she said] that the divine words that I speak are not mine, but come from the Father and God most high, who gives to each one as it may be pleasing to Him. He Himself teaches me to ask and to answer, and speaks with me while in hiding: I, however, speak to you openly and publicly. He Himself teaches me in the silence of the spirit and I pronounce out loud to you the divine words which I hear. Beware therefore lest you receive in emptiness these words which my tongue brings forth, moved by the Holy Spirit.
And in another place:
I go to the Lord that He may order me to do this work; and at once the spirit of my Lord Jesus teaches me. Then and always I am secure in all things, unworried about speaking as one ignorant: but I understand whatever I see, and I am fully instructed concerning that which I think.
Finally, Sermon VIII has it thus:
Since you are my royal master, most sweet and agreeable, you speak with me, gladdening me and, in speaking, you kindle the desire of loving Christ. You teach me to know the truth. When you are near me, you cause me, your unworthy handmaid, to speak and I bring forth with my mouth words that are not mine.
It is obvious from these statements that what Umiltà dictated came in its entirety from the same Spirit who was to perform similar things in this same century, the fourteenth, especially in His beloved spouse St. Catherine of Siena, who was to be born thirty–seven years after Umiltà's death, who pointed out to her confessor, “You may hold it as a very certain conclusion, my father, that in what pertains to the way of salvation no man or woman teaches me anything, indeed, except in brief the Lord and Master Himself, the precious and sweetest Bridegroom of my soul, Lord Jesus Christ, either through His inspiration or speaking to me in a distinct apparition, just as I now speak to you.”4 The divine miracles demonstrated the same thing, miracles which made famous the speech of Umiltà, as can be seen in the twenty–ninth paragraph of her Life. We know also, from these her spoken words, that from her birth a guardian angel was assigned to her; later when as Abbess she was responsible for the care of the souls placed under her, she was given a second angel to make easier for her the task of guiding them, as the theologians teach is wont to occur in such cases. Sermon IV speaks of this:
I love all celestial angels equally, but two especially have been delights of my happiness, who strengthen me day and night, who have shared with me inestimable gifts out of their riches. My Lord assigned them to me as guardians that they might protect me from all harm, and this divine mandate they have executed most diligently thus far, for I am very well comforted by their strength. On my right and left hand they both sustain me, nor can I fall except through my own folly, to such an extent that if I firmly shall keep myself by them, my enemies can do nothing to harm me. Through the grace of St. John the Evangelist, I know exactly what names to call each of them. The first is from the choir of angels who are given as guardians to me in their lifetimes, and his name is Sapiel, which means divine wisdom. Every time I heard his name pronounced, at once my heart was gladdened. He was with me from the moment that I entered upon this life. I confess indeed that I have often offended him with my many faults but he, as one totally benign, has remitted all my faults, for he has always been my earnest advocate before Lord Jesus. The other angel, from the Angelic Order of Cherubim, was called Emmanuel and he was given to me after my thirtieth year when I had entered into thinking about important business since the guardianship of my flock was committed to me by God, although I did not have the pastoral staff nor strength nor force sufficient for such work. He spread his own wings and helped me in my labours and my undertakings and, since he is kind, he consoled me, making me a sharer in his most rich treasury.
And again in another place, that is in Sermon XII:
Let it be known to you that these two angels are first, best and most proper to their function in bringing me power and assistance before God, declaring many things to me concerning divine secrets.
To these two angels she was always most obedient and it was to honour them that she composed that lovely little tractate of the court of paradise where this is read:
I have a great glory in my heart, made certain by the nobility and greatness of my angels. When I think about their beauty, I feel myself falling into an ecstasy as if I were rapt beyond myself in excess of joy, since I have two such perfect lovers who always stand ready in the presence of God and at the same time are a great support to me. They are like two impregnable rocks; in them have I put all my security; and so great is their fortitude that I shall not fear to be turned over to any enemies whatsoever. They are wise in all ways and so industrious that they instruct me in every kind of virtue. They watch out for me so solicitously and so promptly that before it is necessary, I discover that they are there with me. They are two sturdy columns, supporting my weakness.
(5) To such powerful companions she commended herself in her times of need, as Sermon XI declares:
And you, my strong angels, walk forth in all my paths and diligently keep vigil lest enemies should be strong enough to approach the doors of my heart. Ward off evil from before me with the sword of your defense and constrain my mouth so well that to every vain and lazy word, it may remain closed and let not such words come thence when they will. Sharpen my tongue with a keen knife for rooting up whatever vices are there and planting virtues. Place two seals of love upon my eyes, so they may be unable to look upon anything of this world as upon my Beloved; nonetheless keep these same eyes open and watchful that they be not impeded by sleep in reciting the Divine Office nor burden the mind when it ought to give attention to praising God. Keep my ears open to the name of Jesus and make it that no other word can penetrate them which is mortal poison to the soul. Bind my feet with the chain of love so that they are unable to walk in the way of sin, but let all my steps be to the honour of Christ and His glorious Mother. Constrain my hands with your blessed wings, always ready and eager for divine worship. Remove the odour from every vanity, so that my soul senses only the odour of heavenly flowers. Guard all my bodily senses that my spiritual senses may be delighted and my soul may rest quietly with her Beloved. Cause the paths of divine love to be strengthened in me that when the rivers of vain amusements attempt to flood these paths, they may be unable to cross, for such rivers could carry off my soul and drown her. My dearest angels, behold, I am placed in your guardianship and commended to you by my sweetest Jesus. I pray you in his name that you always solicitously protect me; I commend myself to you o my most kindly angels. Pray to the Eternal Word that he may wish to draw my heart to Him and never allow it to go astray with anyone else.
Finally, around the end of Sermon II, she says:
O Emmanuel, O Sapiel who are my guardian angels, I pray to you, most sweet ones, that from all your powers you extend to me aid so efficacious, that when you shall have led me into the presence of the great Queen, I shall be able to contemplate and rejoice in the Mother with her beloved Son, and from the maternal bosom receive her glorious infant into my own arms.
It would be a lengthy business to enumerate all the other places in which she praises her beloved angels and gives thanks to them. It is enough to know that they were two to whose tutelage she joined also for herself the special patronage of St. John the Evangelist, along with St. James the Greater and St. John the Baptist and these three she termed the three sturdiest pillars of her life; hence she also said in Sermon XI:
Cause it to be, my Lord, that these my holy advocates animate me, so that they may lead me without sin to you by right paths to your presence. Command them to be my guardians until my death, and then to offer to you my soul, wholly joyful and happy.
Nor was she content with these, but just as she was so very much in love with her Bridegroom, so she venerated all His servants. Thus from them all she chose in addition as her protectors, St. Catherine Virgin and Martyr, the Archangel Gabriel, St. Cecilia, St. Joseph and especially the most glorious Mother of God, as will appear below. So far as St. John the Evangelist is concerned, from her very childhood Umiltà began to be quite devotedly attached to him; as she grew in years she grew in devotion; as more and more graces were heaped upon her by him daily, having him with her in the path of the Spirit as a father and a teacher. She speaks expressly about this event in one sermon:
St. John the Evangelist is my teacher and my master without whom I would wish to learn no doctrine. After Christ and His blessed Mother, he is my glory and my refuge, my counsel and the joy of my soul.
(7) In Sermon XI she declares his love for her in these words:
O Evangelist, Bringer of sweet love from heaven, you send many precious rewards to your beloved ones. Be mindful of me, poor and mendicant, if you still acknowledge me. Just as you have been responsible for me when I have been rich, do not abandon me in more urgent need. If, on account of the love of the Sultan of the Saracens, I had come into his land as I have come for love of you, he would take care of me in my need out of his own fine breeding. Remember for yet a little while, John, the continual largesse which you used to send to me, that you might inflame me still more with your love. Indeed I love you with a full heart and, even though I may be vile and not worth the price of a single petal, you are truly a sweet–smelling white lily flower. Do not forget what great generosity you have shown toward me at various times. Be mindful meanwhile of that most beautiful knife which you have fashioned using the hammer strokes of love, not of chastisements with which you have transfixed my heart, and in renewing love, you have thrust that knife in me anew. You have bound me to you so firmly that it is impossible for me to be pulled away or carried away from your love. O most beloved John, you have bound me with chains of gold and you have married me with a ring. Therefore, since I have been commended to your keeping, O my sweetest Bridegroom, do not abandon me. I beseech you to remember that you have veiled me with your love and you have given me wedding gifts and so many other precious and lovely things, along with that string of precious gems. I could speak of your many other gifts to me, but it is time to make an end, lest those whose minds are hardly healthy gather the thorns and scatter the roses. Beyond this, I confess that I have used your gifts badly and I have not loved you as I ought, but my pure love is made vile and, what is worse, is malordered; truly there is mercy in loving you. Therefore, I beseech you that we may renew our friendship so that my soul may be refreshed in your love and that it may produce that best fruit which I desire, namely that it may work to your glory.
From these and other unmistakable words of Umiltà, we may understand how singularly she was attached to this great saint in whose honour she dictated two sermons in which she declares distinctly and with great feeling how much reverence toward him had been divinely enjoined upon her, how much trust she placed in him, how much intimacy and generosity she enjoyed with him.
Chapter II: The Devotion of the Saint for the Mother of God; How her Praises were Dictated and What Fruit they Bore.
(8) Still more tender was the devotion which Saint Umiltà felt for the Blessed Mother of God. For it is clear that she never undertook any action without imploring her aid, and in all her sermons she mingled the praise of Mary. If any adversity befell her or some need troubled her, having sought the Virgin's aid, she was at once comforted. On her she had fixed all her meditation—considering now her virgin birth and the great and weighty responsibility of bringing up her little son, meditating now on the sword of the most bitter Passion, now contemplating the supreme power granted to her over all created things. In this respect it is not surprising that in consideration of this love towards herself the Queen of Heaven so often bestowed graces upon her and that she often personally appeared to her sight in that fashion which we read about in her sermons. For she confessed in Sermon III and clearly recognised that the Queen of Heaven was her guide and her companion on the path to paradise, as Sermon VIII explains in these words:
The Queen of Heaven is the mast and sail of our souls and her mercy launches it with ease, showing us the safe way and the brevity of the journey which will bring us swiftly to our port. Her angels are to be found there also who will present its treasure to the Lord who is like the generous man in the parable, for one talent returning to us one hundred, in addition to great abundance of inestimable riches.
And in Sermon XII she said:
You know, brothers, that not only in vision but even in intimate and everyday conversation, most pleasing responses are given to all our questions and petitions by the very mouth of the Virgin Mary.
Then in Sermon IX she said:
Let there not be ascribed to me for my glory that which I speak with my tongue, for they are not my words, nor do I have any power over them, but rather they give praise to the Queen, since from her all goodness is wholly derived.
(9) In Sermon IV she discoursed in this manner concerning Mary's praises:
The Highest Deity came from the kingdom of heaven to earth, and humbly entered the vessel of the one girl whose beauty was formed like unto His, for she was the mother of simplicity whose purity was so great that it caused her to shine like the purest gem among all other virgins. She is the Queen of Humility who wisely reaches to the depths of this virtue. She is Our Lady in whose lowered eyes there trembled such an awareness that they were powerful enough to bring the most high God down to earth from His celestial throne.
Moreover, she added a little later, “So flourishing is her virginity that it makes chaste those who speak with her.” And in Sermon VI she said:
O Holy Root, who bore for us that branch by which our life is governed! O glorious virgin, whose celebration in heaven is always solemnly being renewed! So great and divine is her beauty that the angels and saints can never be sated with gazing upon her. Her tresses are plaited with gold by which her most holy head is honoured; it is impossible to express the beauty or the brilliance with which her head radiates everything. Her eyes, most noble and loving, kindle in the hearts of her people a divine flame. Her smile and her mouth, while she is speaking always bear some new and precious gift; she makes breathless her auditors by her words, purifying and refining their minds. Angels long to hear her and saints rejoice in her voice. From her mouth and her nostrils she breathes out a fragrance of such delicious odour that in everyone it renews the desire of seeing and greeting her again. Her lips are rosier and more sweet–smelling than just–opened roses. The entire court of heaven adores those divine breasts which suckled the Eternal King and that body which is the most holy of altars. While angels and saints speak with her, they remove the regal crowns from their heads and repeat that glorious salutation which the archangel Gabriel once spoke on earth and, at the same time, they all await the blessing of those most holy hands in which all power has been placed, and finally they long to express their submission and reverence for this blessed Queen who is the Empress of the Angels and of the entire divine court. Her crown displays twelve of those stars which figurally represent the Apostles. The crown is painted in encaustic to represent the splendour of the sun which the beauty of the highest King poured forth on her when she ascended from this life to her marriage above all the heavens, and was gathered to the right hand of God sitting above the Cherubim. She is the joy of the entire celestial court, etc.
(10) In this and in other similar discourses Umiltà seems to find no end; the most generous Virgin, responding to the love shown to her by Umiltà, conferred upon her this special favour, among others, that she appeared once when Umiltà was meditating upon her divine parturition, commanding her to contemplate attentively this unique mystery in order that she might be able to make this known to others. And in addition she commanded her to wrap her infant Jesus in a robe which she should weave with gems, eye–catching with the variety of three colours. But Umiltà responded:
O my sweetest Lady, it seems impossible to me to cover the Creator of heaven and earth in a material garment, whom the very angels scarcely dare to touch, especially since I neither possess any jewels nor know the right kinds of colours.
The most holy one assured her, however, that she should not be troubled but that, at her command, St. John the Evangelist would soon be present who would teach her what would be needed for the work. And immediately he explained that this garment was not intended to be a material one, but should be woven entirely of spiritual things; namely, from the expansion of the heart, the humility of spirit, the burning love in the soul, the inexpressible sweetness of adoration, with fervent sighings, copious tears and penetrating contemplation. Just as if she had woven it with so many gems and golden threads, she should offer the garment woven of these things to the child. And he named the three requisite colours: red, pink and white: the first of these, he said, denoted the divinity of Christ, the second His humanity, the third the virginity and merits of His Mother Mary. For with this garment would be covered not only the Son and the Mother, but also the entire court of heaven.
Umiltà, thus instructed, is praised in the hymn about her: Umiltà ...
“composed this book at the dictation of the spirit
filled with praises of the Virgin Mary
for which he who reads it may give thanks
in his prayers."
The nuns of St. Salvio very frequently recite these hymns of praise which are full of the mysteries of the Incarnation of the Divine and which contain the special privileges of the Mother of God; they repeat with equally great frequency the names of the Son and of the Mother. In the beginning of this tractate, however, which contains only these hymns of praise, a prayer of this fashion is to be found:
O Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, hear my prayers and petitions. I would ask of you mercy for all those who read this book in your honour, or hear it read, or are devoutly moved by it. Give them that great reward and precious gift, the love of you and of Jesus Christ. Be present at the hour of their death, acting in their defence, freeing their souls from the mouth of the dragon. And you, Jesus, grant them salvation and glory in the heavenly kingdom. Amen.
She also composed a short prayer which preceded the said hymns of praise or Lauds, in this fashion:
O most pure Virgin, illumine our hearts with the light of the Holy Spirit that we may be able to hear the doctrine, and learn it, and recite it in such a way that it provides praises to you and healing to us, the sick.
Finally she explains, as it happened according to the will of Him who was inspiring Her, in what respect the said Lauds are not her own compositions, saying:
O most beloved brothers and most pious sisters, we are moved by a great devotion to these Lauds of the Virgin Mary, and these hymns are not taken from any book, nor received from any human doctrine. The masters supervising the writing of them were Jesus Christ and the Virgin mary who are the peak and perfection of all virtues. Glory be to them. A certain woman dictated them, and another woman wrote them down, and the Holy Spirit inspired them in a certain sinner.
(12) Afterwards St. Umiltà tells how the said Lauds were revealed to her on the Vigil of the Assumption of Our Lady. She was made worthy by a singular grace as she was reciting them, but she did not indicate of what sort. She said only that “this certain sinner”—for so the very humble saint referred to herself—had “sought a particular grace, for which my Lady Mediatrix interceded and instantly obtained.” She continued:
O what a fortunate, immense, marvellous, lovable, wholly sweet and precious reward this was! The Virgin gave this sinner an especially outstanding grace which was a certain divine light, by which she knew how to use the occasion for praising her and commending herself to her on the Feast of the Assumption. When her heart was not a little breathless in adoration. Thus Our Lady displayed her true humility, for she loves sinners and is most merciful to them and since, indeed, she has acted so clemently with this sinner. O most beloved brothers! Let us recite often and meditate attentively on the Lauds. I tell you truly that by doing this we shall receive many spiritual gifts from the Virgin Mary because we praise in these hymns the most exalted lady who brings healing medicine to our souls. She quickens the heart, illuminates the mind, establishes concord between spirit and sense, banishes far away evil thoughts and dangerous temptations and makes us participants in her love. For when we sense the odour of the Virgin Mary it causes our minds to forget temporal things and teaches them to love Christ and the things of the spirit; it makes us spurn the world and all earthly things and to seek out heavenly things with the deepest desire for finding them. For this reason we should make ready our hearts and feed on the fruit of these divine praises of the Virgin Mary who is our light and the star of the morning.
(13) To give proof of the efficacy of the Lauds, two miracles took place which are to be found described in an old codex containing the Lauds. A certain member of a religious order was depressed by such grace spiritual troubles that it seemed to him that he had been clearly abandoned by God. Since he found exemplary the life of this holy abbess, he brought himself to the monastery of St. Salvio, trusting in her great merits, where he had heard that there were living enclosed young virgins with very fine reputations. Before having come to see or meet any of these virgins, however, God wished to point out to him by other means their great purity. For He showed him a banquet furnished in royal magnificence with all kinds of celestial dishes and around the banquet table were sitting all the virgins, and Himself with them. The elegant grace of that divine refection was incredible, yet some grief disturbed the scene, for he saw three nuns who were excluded from the banquet and who lay on the ground at a distance, as if ill. When the vision ended, the compassionate grief he felt for them remained in the good man joined with the desire to help the poor things. After he had prayed, he determined to transcribe the Lauds of the Virgin that we have described above which had been composed by their abbess. His primary reason for doing this was that he might thereby find spiritual consolation for himself by which he might be delivered from his suffering; the second reason was so that these three sisters might come out better in reading and re–reading the prayers, and reach the level of sanctity shared by their companions. Wanting to put his hand to this task as soon as possible and driven to do so by these three desiring it in the highest degree, he experienced yet another vision. He saw the three dressed in the most brilliant white garments with a matron of venerable aspect coming to greet them. She at once led them to join the others in the group; the entire group then began to strike and whip this religious man who, through his sensations of pain, was imploring the aid of the holy foundress. When he finally returned to himself, he recognised that his soul had been calmed in all respects simply by his having made the decision to propagate devotion to such a lovely Queen of the Angels by writing down the said Lauds.
(14) Another religious man, most eager to pursue salvation, chose to live alone with himself and his Creator in some deserted place. A demon, not at all able to bear this, so furiously turned whatever devices of temptation he could against him that the monk almost gave up. Nevertheless he resisted and defended himself in various ways. One day, among other means he used to defend himself, he began to recite these same Lauds of the Virgin which, by the intercessory merits of this saint, brought swift victory over the enemy from the Mother of God. After the infernal enemy had been conquered, however, he was unable to tolerate having been confounded in this way and one day he appeared in the guise of a horrible giant at the hour of Terce; he stood in the doorway of the chamber, struck it completely from its foundations, and then vanished. From that day on, this devout monk remained most devoted to our saint and, so that the fruit of such beneficial prayer might reach many people, he translated the Lauds from Latin into the vernacular and at the end he wrote:
Therefore, beloved brothers, let us frequently and devoutly recite these Lauds to the Blessed Virgin; and whoever is suffering any tribulation or spiritual weakness, let him have recourse to the Heavenly Empress with this kind of prayer; for, in reciting each of them attentively, he will move her to grant to him the salvation he desires and his original peace of mind, as the saint herself indicates in the beginning of these Lauds.
This concludes the fourteenth century portion of the Analecta. The next chapter, which begins in 1523, describes the miracles which took place at the time of the destruction of the monastery of St. John and the translation of the bodies of St. Umiltà and Blessed Margarita to San Salvio.