Mariangela Virgili, T.O.Carm. (1662-1734)
Also Known as Maria Angela Virgili
Mariangela was born in 1662 in Ronciglione Italy, to such impoverished parents that when she asked her father for permission to become a cloistered Carmelite nun, he answered no because they had nothing to give for a dowry. Her pious father added ‘…but you can become a nun at home’.
While dedicated to her household tasks and work in the fields, she professed the Third Order Rule of Mt. Carmel. She became deeply involved in her hometown and helped rescue many young girls from lives of prostitution. She took personal care of the sick and poor and enlisted others to do the same. Poor herself, she shared what she had with others and became known as the Mother of the poor and Mother of charity.
Even though she was very involved in her duties at home and with her townspeople, she never neglected her prayer life, and a great number of witnesses at her beatification proceedings said that she seemed to be a person who knew how to pray constantly. She was often seen in the church, or at a small altar she had prepared in her home, sometimes remaining there through the night. One eyewitness testified that “When people came to see her they used to find her with Rosary in hand, and she urged those who came, to pray for their needs ‘as a means to receive from the Lord what was desired for the salvation of one’s soul and body’. But over and above concrete prayers, she strove to remain constantly aware of the Lord’s presence. She constantly sought to keep herself in the divine Presence. This is why she appeared, you could say ecstatic, with her mind raised to God…”.
Much could be said about her extraordinary devotion for the Eucharist, for the Rosary and other prayers. A typical meditation of hers on the Creed (below), provides a clue for the authentically Christian quality of her prayer life.
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty": if he is Almighty, he is able; if he is God, then he knows; if he is Father, then he wishes to help me in every need of mine, console me in every trial of mine, and forgive all my sins, just as he did for the Prodigal Son every time I return to him, good Father, kindly Father, loving Father, merciful Father.
“Creator of heaven and earth." Why did he create heaven and earth if not for me? When did he create it for me? When I was not born yet, when I was nothing. Andy why did he create it for me? Because of his infinite love and so that I could enjoy him forever in Heaven.
“And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord." Jesus Christ means Savior. Who saved me, who knew me for what I would be – ungrateful, rebellious, evasive. And from what? From death, from the devil, from hell, from sin.
“He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary." He came down from heaven for me and for my salvation. Where? He had been served by angels, archangels, by the whole court of heaven. For me and for my salvation he was born in Bethlehem, where he was laid in a manger, where he had need of hay, of the breath of animals – he by whom all things were made.
“He suffered under Pontius Pilate.": For me and for my salvation he suffered under Pontius Pilate. For whom? For me. How? With innumerable floggings, with unheard of shame. For whom? For me whom he knew to be so ungrateful.
“He was crucified.": For me and for my salvation, he was crucified. Where? On Mount Calvary, infamous, stench-filled place. How? Nude – O truly wondrous sight!
“Died and was buried.": For me and for my salvation he willed that his body die. A stupendous thing to think about; What do you say, my soul? What do you think? How do you answer that? He died of thirst in order to satiate me with his blood. He put his life to death in order to give us life – he who gives life to all.
“He descended into hell.": How many times I would have gone to hell, if he had not restrained me and freed me by his mighty hand. It’s true; how many have gone to hell for a single sin. Lord free us!
“The third day he rose again from the dead": For me and for my salvation, he rose from the dead on the third day, even visiting his few faithful friends, making himself seen, allowing his holy body to be touched, and consoling a great deal, without really needing them.
“He ascended into heaven." Taking possession of heaven for me, where the Bl. Trinity is constantly waiting for me in order that I go and rejoice forever with those blessed spirits.
“Sits at the right hand of the Father Almighty": For me and for my salvation he is at the right hand of the Father, keeping us in mind constantly; a holy remembrance, a kindly remembrance, a salvation-bearing remembrance which he has had for us from all eternity. He continuously shows his wounds to his Father. His Mother shows her Son the breasts with which she gave him to drink. The Son shows the Father the Wounds he suffered. What will the Father deny the Son or the Son his Mother and one and the other to us? It is true that nothing is denied us; if something is denied us, it is only because of sin, because that is the root of all evil. For this reason God hates sin so much.
“From there he shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead": For me and for my salvation he will come glorious on the day of judgment, both to exalt those who here were humiliated and to glorify those who here despised their own glory. It is true that with humility, we keep the devil underfoot; this does not happen without humility.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit": For me and for my salvation, from heaven he sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, the Spirit of peace, the Spirit of piety, the Spirit of kindliness, of all consolation, so that we always love one another and always remain united together with the bond of most pleasant love, that we be saints, and as sons of a holy Father we always live in a holy way and be enabled afterwards in heaven to sing, Holy, Holy, Holy.
“The Holy Catholic Church": For me and for my salvation he created the holy Mother, Catholic Church, that she prove us with the tasty milk of God’s own jubilation and now with one thing and now with another she spur us on to live him, to serve whom is to reign.
“The Communion of Saints": For me and for my salvation he arranged it so that all the saints wore themselves out, were mortified and suffered to make me a sharer in their merits – and not only in those of the saints, but also of the Saint of saints, Jesus Christ and as my patrimony, my inheritance and my own possession, I could always offer it to the eternal Father.
“The forgiveness of sins": For me and for my salvation he instituted the sacrament of penance, so that I always have the opportunity to be cleansed of all my sins.
“The resurrection of the body": for me and for my salvation, he will raise up my flesh and since with it I have served God, so with it I shall enjoy him in heaven.
“And life everlasting. Amen": For me and for my salvation he was born, lived, died and rose to give me life eternal.”
Mariangela died on November 10th 1734 at the age of 72. The local townspeople of Ronciglione consider her their “saint” to the extent that in 1900 and again in 1909, the Holy See forbade the continuation of her Cause at the Congregation for Saints, because public veneration shown her precluded a serene and objective study of her holiness by the Holy See.
Despite this prohibition, in 1984, Civic and religious festivities commemorated the 250th anniversary of her death in Ronciglione. The local Bishop was impressed enough to petition the Holy See to lift the ban and the Cause was resumed.
She is remembered today, more than 250 years after he death because, for her, religion was not a private thing between God and herself. People flocked to her asking for advice (even priests sought out her counsel) and for a remembrance in her prayers, because she lived her faith with authenticity. There was no human need that she encountered that she did not do something about.