Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Seraphina

Blessed Seraphina SforzaArticle

Saint Seraphina, like many other Saints was descended from an aristocratic family. She received in holy baptism, the name of Sueva. Her father was Guido, Count of Urbino, and her mother, Catharine Colonna, was a niece of Pope Martin V. Having lost her parents early, she was taken to Rome to be educated in the noble family of Colonna. Having finished her education, she was married to Alexander Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, a widower, who had, from his first marriage, two sons, Galeatius and Constantius, both of whom Sueva treated like her own children. In the course of time, Alexander, being called to Milan to assist with his military forces his brother Francis Sforza, left the administration of his dominions in the hands of Sueva, who governed with great wisdom from the year 1456 until the year 1462. Returning from the war, Alexander was highly satisfied with the manner in which his pious spouse had conducted the affairs of the state; and everything seemed to indicate that he would now live with her in the peace and happiness of holy matrimony. But unfortunately, the contrary took place. Alexander became attached to a lady of Pesaro, named Pacifica, and his passion filled his heart with dislike for his lawful wife, which gradually settled into a deep hatred, especially after she had represented to him the sinfulness of his conduct. At the same time, kindled by Satan, his sinful passion for Pacifica increased, and, at last, took such entire possession of him that he twice endeavored to poison Sueva. Not succeeding in these attempts, he went, one night, into her apartment, and seizing her by the throat, would have strangled her, had not her screams brought the servants into the room. Sueva, desirous to hide her husband’s crime explained her cries for help* by saying that she had thought a murderer had entered; but when the servants found their lord’s hat, which he had let drop on hearing their steps, they knew well who the assassin had been. Not long after, Alexander dragged her by the hair of her head into the courtyard, and beat her until she sank fainting upon the ground. He then told her, if she valued her life, to leave his house immediately and retire into a convent. Sueva humbly submitted, and without a murmur, obeyed the order, and entered the Convent of the Poor Clares. Her departure was a cause of great grief to her two step-sons to whom she had been most devoted, and who looked upon her as a mother, as well as to all the domestics whose esteem and love she bad won. Sueva was deeply wounded by the cruel treatment of her husband, who to excuse his conduct, declared her guilty of many crimes. When in the solitary stillness of the convent, kneeling before a crucifix, she uttered her complaints and sorrows to the Lord, it seemed to her that Christ from the cross cheered her most lovingly, saying that she should bear these calumnies with a patient heart out of love to Him, who had borne cruelties and insults, and a most ignominious death for her sake. Sueva, thus addressed, felt comforted and strengthened. She received, in religion, the name of Seraphina, which she deserved on account of her great and heroic love of Jesus. Alexander, her husband, was meanwhile carried away for several years by the whirlwind of sin, until the day of grace and mercy dawned also for him, through the prayers, as we may well suppose, of his holy spouse. Having become weary of Pacifica, he maltreated her most cruelly, and thus saved her; for, leaving him, she did penance, made her peace with God, and died, two years later, in the deepest contrition. Alexander also repented of his conduct, and having done penance, was changed from a wolf into a gentle lamb. He begged his innocent wife to forgive the wrong he had done her, and made rich gifts to the convent to which she had retired. Nine years later, he died the death of a penitent. Seraphina, solicitous to aid him not less in eternity than she had done while he was on earth, offered many prayers and good deeds to the Lord for the repose of Alexander’s soul.

She exercised herself with still greater zeal in all virtues, and was particularly admired for her humility, and her great love for the sick and needy. She performed the lowest work in the convent, and chastised her body by severe penances. After she had spent thirteen years in religion, she was unanimously elected Superior to the great temporal and spiritual benefit of the convent. At length, after eighteen years of a most holy life, rich in merits and virtues, she died calmly in the Lord, on the eighth day of September. The day, on which the Blessed Virgin, her Queen and Mother, first saw the light of the world opened to Seraphina the gates of heaven for all eternity.

Practical Considerations

Behold here a life full of useful lessons for Christians in the married state.

• There are numberless unhappy marriages in this world; and it is indeed no slight misfortune to be bound to a person who, instead of being a help and comfort, embitters your life as well as his own. Yes, the sufferings which many a woman endures, in one week, from an infidel, drunken, brutal, vicious husband, often surpass the crosses which others have to bear during years. But unfortunately what is generally the conduct of such women? They run to their friends, complaining and weeping, and feel still more unhappy because they have complained and wept.

Sorrowful woman, the example of Seraphina shows you where you can find comfort and strength: in Christ you will find it; in the Son of God crucified for you. Cast yourself at His feet; to Him bring your complaints and your suffering; hasten to His tabernacle, receive Him often and with fervor, and you will be comforted. Offer your prayers for the conversion of your husband, and perhaps God will hear you sooner than you think.

The same would I say to a married man, if his wife makes life sad and cheerless.

• If an unhappy marriage is often a hell upon earth, a seemingly happy one may really lead into hell itself. How many sad examples of this we see! many a pious girl marries an unbelieving man: she is temporally prosperous; but she gradually loses her faith and hence her soul. . And in like manner, many a pious youth, who marries an infidel daughter of the world, begins to neglect his religion and soon forsakes it entirely. Such a marriage, although apparently peaceful, is truly a thousand times more to be pitied than one which is temporally unhappy.

• Seraphina loved her step-children as if they were her own, and they looked up to her as if she were their own mother. Nothing is more common than dissension in a second marriage. Why? Because step-children are treated unkindly, and are unjustly blamed and punished. This is wrong; and those acting thus will have to give a strict account when they are called to appear before the judgment-seat of God. If they have neglected the Christian education of their step-children, they will perhaps have to suffer in hell a well-deserved punishment.

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Seraphina”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 May 2018. Web. 16 November 2018. <>