By Carmen Elena Villa
ROME, FEB. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The nuns of the Poor Clare convent nestled in the eastern Italian town of Camerino are expecting the canonization of a princess of the region to have universal repercussions.
Last Friday, Benedict XVI approved the Oct. 17 canonization of Blessed Camilla Battista da Varano, who founded the convent in Camerino. After the announcement, the bells of the convent rang out at noon and the sisters held a vigil of prayer in thanksgiving.
“We are certain that the canonization will have universal breadth,” Mother Chiara Laura Seroboli, abbess of the convent of St. Clare of Camerino, wrote in a letter sent to ZENIT. “[…] In fact, the last canonization that the region of Las Marcas recalls was that of St. Maria Goretti, 60 years ago, an event that, despite the fact that there was not the quantity of media that exist now, had a grandiose resonance.”
Both the abbess as well as the provincial minister of the brothers, Father Valentino Natalini, have established an organizing committee to promote events and initiatives to spread awareness about the saint in parishes and schools, and among young people, families and associations.
Camilla da Varano (1458-1524) was born to Giulio Cesare, the prince of Camerino. She spent her youth enjoying social life, studying Latin, law, painting and horseback, and basking in the surroundings of a sumptuous palace.
In her autobiography, Camilla recounts that when she was 9 years old she heard a homily on Good Friday in which Brother Domenico da Leonessa asked those present to shed at least one tear every Friday out of love for Jesus. She took it as a vow to follow all her life.
Early in her youth she intuited a vocation to the religious life, but it was hard for her to accept. Once she decided to abandon herself into God’s hands and saw clearly that he was calling her, her father opposed the decision, wishing her to marry. She succeeded in overcoming the obstacles to her vocation and at 23, entered the convent of St. Clare in Urbino.
“Lord, make me always praise, bless, and glorify you with my life and edify my brothers,” the future saint wrote.
Two years later Camilla made her religious profession, taking the name Sister Battista, together with eight sisters of Urbino. She then entered the new convent of Camerino.
Her father and her brothers were killed in a persecution her family suffered in 1502. Camilla was obliged to take refuge in Atri, a small town of the Abruzzi region, in southern Italy.
In 1505, Pope Julius II sent her to found a convent in Fermo, and in 1521 and 1522 she traveled to San Severino delle Marche to form the local religious who in that period had adopted the rule of St. Clare.
“Serve him out of pure love because he is the Lord who alone merits to be served, loved and praised by every creature,” she wrote.
Camilla had a number of mystical experiences, reflected in her numerous writings, in which she reveals her ardent love for the crucified Christ.
She died May 31, 1524, during a plague.
“You have resurrected me in You, true life who give life to all the living,” wrote Camilla.
Her body is kept and exposed for devotion in a crypt dedicated to her in the church of the convent of Camerino.
The miracle which took place for her canonization occurred in 1877: the cure of a girl called Celia Ottaviane in Camerino, who suffered from rickets. Blessed Camilla’s cause for canonization was then delayed for about 100 years due to problems with the original postulator. It was taken up again in 1998 and last December, Benedict XVI signed the decree approving the miracle for her canonization.
Camilla’s works have been compiled and are being republished because of her canonization: “Memories of Jesus,” “The Mental Pains of the Passion of Jesus,” “Autobiography,” “Instructions to the Disciple,” “Treatise on the Painting of the Heart,” and “Considerations on the Passion of Our Lord.”