St. Veronica, Virgin of Milan and Augustinian Nun (1445 - 13 Jan 1497)
A MOST PIOUS YOUTH
St. Veronica was born in the small village of Binasco, ten miles southwest from Milan, Italy. Her parents were extremely poor but they were hard-working and very pious. Her father worked in the fields and was known to be incredibly honest. For example, he would never sell an animal without disclosing all of its faults or imperfections to the buyer. Because she was so poor, she never had the chance to learn how to read or write. But she learned from her devout parents how to pray. She prayed always and worked hard to help them, even in the most menial tasks. As she grew in her desire for holiness, she became tired of the jokes and banal songs of her companions. She would try to bear with them patiently. At times, she would hide her face as she reaped or hoed so that her companions could not see her tears. She spent as much time as she could in silent recollection and longed for those moments when she could find solitude.
THE GRACE THAT FORMED HER
Through a divine inspiration, Veronica greatly desired to become a nun. Yet she was very worried because she could not read or write, though she was already grown. After a hard day of work, she used to force herself to awake in the middle of the night in order to try to teach herself how to read. One night when she was engaged in these efforts, Our Lady appeared to her and told her not to worry for some pursuits were necessary, yet her reading was not. Instead the Ever Virgin Mary promised to teach her all she needed to know via three mystical letters that contained more true knowledge than any book. Our Lady then explained those three things.
(1) The first was to always be pure in her intention, which means to do all her duties only to please God.
(2) The second was to mind her own business and to hate grumbling and criticism.
(3) The third was to forget her own troubles in thinking of the sufferings of Jesus every day.
Our Blessed Mother’s holy advice made Veronica very happy and she did her best to practice it. By the first she learned to begin her daily duties for no human motive, but for God alone. By the second, she acquired the habit to carry out what she had thus begun by attending to her own affairs, never judging her neighbor, but praying for those who manifestly erred. By the third, she was enabled to forget her own pains and sorrows in those of her Lord, and to weep bitterly, but silently, over the memory of His wrongs.
LIFE IN THE CONVENT
As St. Veronica focused on her three Marian mystical letters, she began to receive many apparitions and religious ecstasies. For example, she often saw scenes from the life of Our Lord. However, by a special grace, her tears and profound religious experiences never interrupted her work! After three years of patiently waiting and preparing herself, Veronica, aged twenty-two, was admitted into the Augustinian convent of St. Martha of Milan.
This convent was very poor and so Veronica was assigned the duty of begging in the streets daily for the nuns' food. She carried this job out joyously. She not only excelled in humility, but also obedience. Every moment of her life she tried to obey her superior, because she knew that if she obeyed her superior, she obeyed God. Veronica continued to derive great pleasure from her prayer and astounded others by her silence and recollectedness. Yet three years after joining the Augustinians, St. Veronica was racked with bodily pains - which she kept secret. Despite these increases sufferings, her patience in enduring all trials without complaint, her obedience to her superiors, and her joy and fidelity to her duty never lessened. Her fellow religious sisters began to notice the odor of sanctity about her.
In 1494, she received a vision from Our Lord and was given a message for then Pope Alexander VI. Receiving permission from her superiors, she traveled to Rome to deliver it. She made this arduous journey in great pain – it served as a kind of via dolorosa for her. Upon her return, at the age of fifty-two, she contracted a debilitating illness. She spent the last half-year of her life confined to her bed and died as she had predicted, on 13 January 1497 and after six months of intense illness.
Many miracles were attributed to her. In 1517, Pope Leo X permitted her veneration by the Augustinians as though she had been beatified. In 1672, Pope Clement X extended her veneration to the entire Church and in 1749, Pope Benedict XIV, inserted her name into the Roman Martyrology. St. Veronica is best remembered for her obedience and her desire for work. Butler records a remark she made to her sister nuns: "I must work while I can, while I have time.” Fellow Christian, dare we then, waste ours?