Blessed Angeline of Marsciano
Angeline was born to the Duke of Marsciano (near Orvieto). She was 12 when her mother died. Three years later the young woman made a vow of perpetual chastity. That same year, however, she yielded to her father’s decision that she marry the Duke of Civitella. Her husband agreed to respect her previous vow.
When he died two years later, Angeline joined the Secular Franciscans and with several other women dedicated herself to caring for the sick, the poor, widows and orphans. When many other young women were attracted to Angeline’s community, some people accused her of condemning the married vocation. Legend has it that when she came before the King of Naples to answer these charges, she had burning coals hidden in the folds of her cloak. When she proclaimed her innocence and showed the king that these coals had not harmed her, he dropped the case.
Angeline and her companions later went to Foligno, where her community of Third Order sisters received papal approval in 1397. She soon established 15 similar communities of women in other Italian cities.
Angeline died on July 14, 1435, and was beatified in 1825.
Priests, sisters and brothers cannot be signs of God’s love for the human family if they belittle the vocation of marriage. Angeline respected marriage but felt called to another way of living out the gospel. Her choice was life-giving in its own way.
Pope Paul VI wrote in 1971: "Without in any way undervaluing human love and marriage— is not the latter, according to faith, the image and sharing of the union of love joining Christ and the Church?— consecrated chastity evokes this union in a more immediate way and brings that surpassing excellence to which all human love should tend" (Apostolic Exhortation on the Renewal of Religious Life, #13).