24 July – Saint Christina Mirabilis

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Jul 23, 2022, 2:45:05 AMJul 23
24 July – Saint Christina Mirabilis
(also known as Christina the Astonishing)

Virgin, mendicant, apostle of prayer of reparation, mystic.

Patronages – millers, people with mental disorders, mental health
workers, mental health caregivers, professionals, psychiatrists and

St Christina was born to a peasant family in Belgium. She was orphaned
as a child and raised by her two older sisters. When she was 21 she
had what was believed to be a severe seizure and was pronounced dead.
At her funeral she suddenly revived and levitated before the
bewildered congregation. She said that during her coma she had been to
heaven, hell and purgatory and had been given the option to either die
and enter heaven, or return to earth to suffer and pray for the holy
souls in purgatory.

Christina chose the greater act of charity. From then on she lived in
extreme poverty, wearing rags, sleeping on rocks and begging for her
food. She is called “Astonishing” because she did the most bizarre
things and suffered the pains of inhuman feats without being
physically harmed by them. She would roll in fire and hide in hot
ovens; she would stand in freezing water for hours in the dead of
winter; she allowed herself to be dragged under water by a mill
wheel; she spent much time in graveyards. She would also climb trees
to escape the strong odour of sin in those she met.

Many thought her to be possessed by demons or insane but many devout
people recognised and vouched for her sincerity, obedience and
sanctity. They believed, that she was a living witness to the pains
that souls experience in purgatory, willingly suffering with them and
for them. Christina the Astonishing is the patron of those with mental
illness and disorders, mental health workers, psychiatrists and

Thomas of Cantimpré (1201–1272), then a canon regular who was a
professor of theology, wrote a report eight years after her death,
based on accounts of those who knew her. Cardinal Jacques de Vitry,
who met with her, said that she would throw herself into burning
furnaces and there suffered great tortures for extended times,
uttering frightful cries, yet coming forth with no sign of burns upon
her. In winter she would plunge into the frozen Meuse River for hours
and even days and weeks at a time, all the while praying to God and
imploring God’s mercy. She sometimes allowed herself to be carried by
the currents downriver to a mill where the wheel “whirled her round in
a manner frightful to behold”, yet she never suffered any dislocations
or broken bones. She was chased by dogs which bit her without any
bodily injury.

Christina died at the Dominican Monastery of Saint Catherine in
Sint-Truiden, of natural causes, aged 74. The prioress there later
testified that, despite her unusual methods of reparation, Christina
would humbly and fully obey any command given her by the prioress.

“We have”, says St Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) Doctor of the Church,
referring to the report of Thomas of Cantimpré, “reason for believing
his testimony, since he has for guarantee another grave author, James
de Vitry, Bishop and Cardinal and because he relates what happened in
his own time and even in the province where he lived. Besides, the
sufferings of this admirable virgin were not hidden. Everyone could
see that she was in the midst of the flames without being consumed and
covered with wounds, every trace of which disappeared a few moments
afterwards. But, more than this, was the marvellous life she led for
42 years after she was raised from the dead, God clearly showing that
the wonders wrought in her by virtue from on high. The striking
conversions which she effected and the evident miracles which occurred
after her death, manifestly proved the finger of God and the truth of
that which, after her resurrection, she had revealed concerning the
other life.”

Thus, argues Bellarmine, “God willed to silence those libertines who
make open profession of believing in nothing and who have the audacity
to ask in scorn, Who has returned from the other world? Who has ever
seen the torments of Hell or Purgatory? Behold two witnesses. They
assure us that they have seen them and that they are dreadful. What
follows, then, if not that the incredulous are inexcusable and that
those who believe and nevertheless, neglect to do penance, are still
more to be condemned?”

St Christina the Astonishing has been recognised as a saint since the
12th century. She was placed in the calendar of the saints by at least
two bishops of the Catholic Church in two different centuries (17th &
19th) that also recognised her life in a religious order and
preservation of her relics. There remains a strong devotion to her in
her native region of Limburg.

Saint Quote:
But when does flesh receive the bread which He calls His flesh? The
faithful know and receive the Body of Christ if they labor to be the
body of Christ; and they become the body of Christ if they study to
live by the Spirit of Christ: for that which lives by the Spirit of
Christ is the body of Christ.
--St. Augustine

Bible Quote:
You shall know the Spirit of truth, because He will dwell with you,
and be in you. (John 14:17)

St Christina, you lived a life of poverty
and loneliness in the eyes of others.
But you knew, that in the eyes of God,
you were wealthy and had His love
and the companionship of saints and angels.
Help us to see beyond the things of the world
and to realise, that, we are never alone with God
and that we are surrounded by
a “great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us.”
Pray that we remember to offer up our sufferings
for those who do not see beyond the material
and those who are seeking love and fulfilment,
that they may come to know God
and understand, that they are never alone.
St Christina, ‘Mirabilis’, Pray for Us!


Jul 24, 2022, 2:43:58 AMJul 24
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