Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Eucharistic Miracle of St Juliana Falconieri

By the time the feast of Corpus Christi was instituted in the 13th century, vigils were no longer being added to the Roman Rite along with new feasts; the Visitation, which was instituted in 1389, is a rare exception, and even then, its vigil was suppressed in the Tridentine reform. Although Corpus Christi therefore does not have a vigil, it sometimes coincides with feasts that serve as prelude to it, as this year, when it is preceded by the feast of St Juliana Falconieri (1270-1341). She was the foundress of the women’s branch of the Servite Order, and the niece of St Alexius Falconieri, one of the seven Florentine noblemen who founded the older men’s branch. The collect of her feast refers to a famous Eucharistic miracle that took place to her benefit.
Deus, qui beatam Julianam Virginem tuam extremo morbo laborantem pretioso Filii tui corpore mirabiliter recreare dignatus es: concede, quaesumus; ut ejus intercedentibus meritis, nos quoque eodem in mortis agone refecti ac roborati, ad caelestem patriam perducamur.
O God, Who, when the blessed Virgin Juliana was laboring in her last illness, deigned in wondrous manner to comfort her with the Precious Body of thy Son; grant by the intercession of her merits, that we also, in the agony of death, may be refreshed and strengthened thereby, and so brought to the heavenly fatherland.
When St Juliana was dying, at the (for that era) very old age of 71, she was unable to retain any solid food, and for this reason, also unable to receive Holy Communion. She therefore asked that the Eucharist might be brought to her in her sickroom, that she might at least adore Christ in the Real Presence. As the priest brought the Host close to her, it disappeared, and Juliana peacefully died. When her body was being prepared for burial, the impression of a circle the size of a Host, with an image of the Crucifixion in it, was discovered over her heart. She is therefore represented in art with a Host over her heart.

A statue of St Juliana Falconieri in St Peter’s Basilica
She was canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII, a fellow Florentine, and her feast added to the universal calendar. The Office of her feast includes a proper hymn for Vespers, which also refers to the Eucharistic miracle:
Hinc morte fessam proxima / Non usitato te modo / Solatur, et nutrit Deus, / Dapem supernam porrigens.
Hence when thou wert tired, and death close by, / God consoled and nourished thee, / Not in the usual way / offering the heavenly banquet.
The relics of St Juliana are now in the altar of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament within the basilica of the Annunciation in Florence, which was founded by her parents.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons by Sailko, CC BY 3.0)
St Juliana, pray for us!

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