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CHAPTER XXXV

Treatment of the saint by her husband, and how she obtained salvation of his soul from God, and also that of Sister Tommasa Fiesca, her companion.

As we have mentioned before, this creature, so favored by God, was married at the age of sixteen to Guiliano Adorno, who, although of a noble family, was of a perverse and stubborn temper, and conducted his affairs so badly, that he was reduced to poverty; yet she was always obedient, and patient with his whims and eccentricities, but at the same time she suffered so much from him that with difficulty she preserved her health, and became to reduced and wasted, that she was a most pitiable object. She lived in a solitary house, alone, to satisfy him, and never went out except to attend mass, and then return as quickly as possible, for she would endure anything rather than give pain to others.

Almighty God, seeing that this soul could be brought to great perfection, enabled her to support all this, without murmuring, in silence, and with the greatest patience. For the first few years she was kept in such subjection that she knew nothing of what was going on in the world; but, during the five following she sought to divert herself from the great vexations which her husband caused her, by associating with other ladies, and occupying herself with the affairs of the world as they did.

But she was soon after called by the Lord, and left this way of life, never to return to it again; and, by the goodness of God, she was permitted to live with her husband, as a sister with a brother. Her husband became a member of the third order of St. Francis, and finally was visited by a severe illness, which he bore so impatiently that his wife became greatly distressed for the salvation of his soul. As his end approached, she withdrew into a retired apartment, and there, with tears and sobs, implored her sweet Love to save him, saying, “O Love, I beg of thee this soul: I pray thee give it to me, for thou canst do it.” Persevering in this for the space of half an hour, an interior voice at length assured her that she was heard, and returning to her husband’s chamber, she found him so calm and changed, that, by every word and act, he manifested his submission to the divine will.

This miracle was made known by the blessed one herself to a spiritual child of hers after the death of her husband. “My son,” said she, “Giuliano is gone: you know his eccentricity, which caused me so much suffering during his life, but before he passed away, my sweet Love assured me of his salvation.” It was plain that God had caused her to say this, that the miracle might be made known; for, afterwards, Catherine seemed to regret that she had spoken on the subject, but the person being very prudent, made no remark and began to talk of other things. After her husband had passed away in holy peace, and was buried, her friends would say to her that she was relieved from great trials, and to human reason she indeed appeared to be released from great oppression, but she answered that she was not conscious of it, that all things were the same to her, and that she only cared to do the will of God.

She also lost some of her brothers and sisters but so closely was she united with the sweet will of God, that she did not suffer any more than if they had not been her own kindred. And on account of this she could not understand why one of her companions of the same house of Fieschi as herself, and married as she was, should leave the world by degrees, for fear of turning back. After the death of her husband, this person became a nun in a convent of the Observantines of St. Dominic, called also St. Silvester; and twenty years after her profession, she was transferred to another convent of the same order, called the New Monastery, that she might reform it by introducing a stricter observance. She was called Sister Tommasa, was full of prudence and sanctity, and attained great perfection. She was superior of that monastery, and so burning was her zeal, that she was accustomed to write, compose, paint, and practice various devout exercises, in order to mitigate its violence. She wrote a treatise on the Apocalypse, and upon Dionysius the Areopagite, and other beautiful, devout, and edifying pieces. She painted with her own hand many holy countenances; the most remarkable is one of Piety, representing a certain very holy mystery, when the priest is consecrating at the altar. She wrought very delicately with her needle many pious subjects, among which is still seen in her first monastery, God the Father, surrounded by angels, with Christ and other figures of saints worked with great skill and dignity.

Many things are told of this mother’s devout life and exemplary conversation, so full of the fervor of divine love, by the nuns of her first and second convents, as well as by pious seculars who were her friends; also how happily she passed from this life praising the Lord. Her death took place in the year 1534, when she was more than 86 years of age. As we have mentioned, the blessed Catherine wondered how (when she was yet in the world) she could make such slow progress in contempt of the world; but she herself, on the other hand, said that Catherine, for so she called her, considered her desperate; and that it would be a dreadful mortification to her if she should turn back; Catherine was more surprised at this thought of turning back, and could not understand it. “If I should turn back,” she said, “I should not only wish my eyes to be put out, but that every kind of punishment and insult should be inflicted on me.”

The wonderful designs of God are manifested in these two women, belonging to the same period, and both married; one of whom was converted by infused grace and at once made perfect, while the other arrived at perfection by virtue slowly acquired.

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