Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Asella, Virgin

main article for Saint Asella of RomeArticle

Saint Asella lived at the time of Saint Jerome, the great Doctor of the Church, who calls her a model of chastity and a mirror of purity. She was descended from an ancient and noble Roman family, whose name she made still more renowned by her great virtues. Her father dreamed, before she was born, that a beautiful child was presented to him in a vase of clear crystal. And such was Saint Asella, not only in regard to her body, but also in regard to her soul. She was hardly twelve years old when she chose Christ as her spouse, and devoted herself entirely to His service. Hence, her great soul despised all that is usually esteemed and coveted by the children of the world. She divested herself of her costly robes, although they were only such as suited her station in life, sold the jewels she wore around her neck, and provided herself with a penitential garment. Thus clad, she showed herself to her parents and relations, to let them understand that she renounced all worldly vanity, and that henceforth she intended, in virginal chastity, to serve the Lord only. No objections of her parents, no remonstrances of her relatives had power to change her resolution. She chose as her dwelling a small room in her father’s house, where she lived as retired as a hermit in his cell. Her bed was the bare floor, and her occupations were praying, devout reading, singing psalms, meditations, and at stated hours some needlework. She prayed so incessantly day and night, that after her death, the skin of her knees was found as hard as that of a camel. She never admitted any one of the other sex, and kept such silence that she even endeavored to prevent the occupants of the house from addressing her, as it was more agreeable and comforting to her to converse only with the Almighty and the Saints. She never left her retreat, except to go to church, or to visit the shrines of the holy Martyrs, on which occasions she always wore her humble dress, and was so modest, that she was recognized but by few, and very seldom addressed by any. As she desired to live only for God and be unknown to the world, this gave her great satisfaction. So quiet and holy a conduct of one of the most noble ladies of Rome edified the whole city. But still more to be admired was her austerity in fasting, in which she persevered until her death. Saint Jerome testifies that her nourishment, during the whole year, consisted of a little bread, salt and water, and that she even abstained from this humble fare sometimes for two or three days in succession, while, during Lent, she more than once went without food for a week. And yet, notwithstanding all this austerity, on the testimony of the same holy writer, she was always cheerful and healthy, and never suffered from any sickness. God wished to show in her, how strong even a naturally feeble body may be, when sustained by His grace, and how false is the idea of those, who believe that the fasts ordained by the Church are hurtful to health, or shorten life, although they are far less severe than those observed by Saint Asella. Our Saint continued her rigorous and holy life to her fiftieth year, when she closed it by a holy death. Saint Jerome, in praising her, calls her “a most perfect mirror of virtues, which should teach all virgins, purity; all married women, modesty; all the wicked, the fear of the Lord; and all priests, perfect piety.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Asella, Virgin”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 June 2018. Web. 20 September 2018. <>