Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Paula, Nun

illustration of Paula, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberIt is true that love to our Lord is never found in a heart that does not burn with love also to the Mother of God. He who loves the Mother of the Lord cannot be cold in affection to her offspring. The heart that loves Mary must of necessity love Jesus. Thus Paula, who from a child was devoted to Mary, loved our Lord with all her heart. Who shall say how often she kissed the picture in which the little Jesus is represented at His mother’s breast, as she daily contemplated it with the tenderest affection?

She would kneel before the sacred image of the child Jesus, crown it with flowers, and press it to her little heart, nor would she part from it by day or by night, and if it were taken from her by her nurse or her mother, she would weep bitterly. One night the Blessed Virgin appeared to the little girl, with the Holy Child, and seemed to kiss her, and to give her some of the milk with which she nourished the Infant Jesus. When the milky way shines in the heavens, the night is sweet and balmy, and the air serene; so, when Paula tasted this holy food serene peace filled her breast. When she grew older, she was told by the Blessed Virgin to go to a Monastery of Angels, and there learn the principles of the religious life from a Monk named Sylvester. Not knowing where to go, she was overwhelmed with grief; but the Mother of God showed her in a vision the monastery itself, and the road thither. Starting on her journey, she came to a Monastery of Camaldolese Fathers, who, by their holy lives, resembled angels; and near to it was a Convent of Nuns, who followed the same constitutions of Saint Romuald. Here Saint Sylvester desired that Paula should take the veil, and, with many holy meditations, should besiege Heaven with silent prayer.

She now lived like a hermit, shut up in her cell, but with her dwelt also those whom she loved so well, Jesus and Mary. Paula frequently received the Holy Eucharist, her face radiant with joy, while angels’ songs were often heard by her. Christ Himself would appear to her, sometimes in His royal robes, sometimes hanging on the Cross, or, as formerly, like a child in His Mother’s arms. While Saint Paula was thus enjoying these favours of Heaven, war broke out between Pisa and Florence, and by her prayers her country was saved from ruin.

In the year 1368, at the age of fifty, she died in her cell, being ripe for Heaven and rich in merits. The Holy Apostles Saints Peter and Paul came in answer to her prayers, and, with Jesus and Mary, surrounded her dying bed and received the departing spirit of the Saint.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.