Pope Proposes Mystic as Guide for Reading Scripture

Notes Christ-Centered Spirituality of Veronica Giuliani

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is proposing the writings of an 18th century mystic as a guide for going deeper into Scripture. St. Veronica Giuliani, he says, brought Scripture to life in herself.

The Pope suggested this today at the general audience when he continued with his series of reflections on women saints. He chose St. Veronica because “Dec. 27 is the 350th anniversary of her birth.”

St. Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727), born Ursula, is a saint with a “markedly Christ-centered and spousal spirituality,” he said. “Hers is the experience of being loved by Christ, the faithful and sincere Spouse, and of wanting to correspond with an ever more involved and impassioned love. She interpreted everything in a key of love, and this infuses in her a profound serenity. Everything is lived in union with Christ, for love of him, and with the joy of being able to demonstrate to him all the love of which a creature is capable.”

Veronica was a Capuchin Poor Clare who spent 50 of her 67 years in the monastery of Citta di Castello. She was proclaimed a saint on May 26, 1893, by Pope Gregory XVI.

“The Christ to whom Veronica is profoundly united is the suffering Christ of the passion, death and resurrection; it is Jesus in the act of offering himself to the Father to save us,” Benedict XVI said.

He added that it was this experience that also led to her “intense and suffering love for the Church, and the twofold way of prayer and offering. The saint lived from this point of view: She prays, suffers, seeks ‘holy poverty,’ as ‘dispossessed,’ loss of self, precisely to be like Christ, who gave his whole self.”

In Veronica’s “Diary” — the main source for understanding the saint — she tells of the experience of receiving the stigmata.

“Veronica even asks Jesus to be crucified with him,” the Holy Father explained. “‘In an instant,’ she wrote, ‘I saw issue from his most holy wounds five shining rays; and all came to my face. And I saw these rays become as little flames. In four of them were the nails; and in one of them was the lance, as of gold, all red hot: and it pierced my heart, from one side to the other … and the nails went through the hands and feet. I felt great pain; but, in the very pain I saw myself, I felt myself all transformed in God.'”

Linked to liturgy

Regarding Veronica’s devotion to Scripture, the Pontiff noted how her writings are filled with biblical quotations, both direct and indirect.

“She shows familiarity with the sacred text, from which her spiritual experience is nourished,” he said.

Benedict XVI highlighted how her writings also show that her “mystical experience(s) are never separated from the salvific events celebrated in the liturgy, where the proclamation and hearing of the Word of God has a particular place.”

“Hence,” he reflected, “sacred Scripture illumines, purifies and confirms Veronica’s experience, rendering it ecclesial.”

The Holy Father illustrated another aspect of her scriptural devotion.

“[P]recisely her experience,” he said, “anchored in sacred Scripture with an uncommon intensity, guides one to a more profound and ‘spiritual’ reading of the text itself, to enter into the hidden profundity of the text. She not only expresses herself with the words of sacred Scripture, but she also really lives from these words, they become life in her.”

The Bishop of Rome ended his address by considering some of the invitations made by St. Veronica Giuliani: to make our Christian life grow; to participate in the suffering love of Jesus Crucified for the salvation of all sinners; to fix our gaze on Paradise, the goal of our earthly journey, where we will live together with so many brothers and sisters the joy of full communion with God; to nourish ourselves daily from the Word of God.

“The last words of the saint,” he concluded, “can be considered the synthesis of her passionate mystical experience: ‘I have found Love, Love has let himself be seen!'”

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31252?l=english

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