Saturday, February 08, 2003

8 FEBRUARY

Today is the feast of St. John of Matha, the founder of the Trinitarian Order, whose original principal work was the redemption of Christian slaves from the Mohammedans.

Also remembered today is the great Franciscan tertiary, Blessed Jacqueline (or Jacoba) di Settesoli. She made St. Francis' favourite dessert, "an excellent cream called mortairol, composed of sugar, almonds, and other ingredients pounded in a mortar." In gratitude St. Francis gave her a lamb, which says St. Bonaventure "'seemed to have been educated by him in the spiritual life.' It followed its mistress to church, remained near her while she was praying, and came home with her. If, in the morning, Jacoba did not waken, the lamb came to butt her gently and bleat in her ear, to make her go to her devotions."

One more anecdote: "One of the most intriguing of these concerns a noble widow from Rome, Lady Jacoba di Settesoli. No mention is made of her before Francis is on his deathbed, when he requests a letter be written. He wants to see her one last time, and he wants her to bring gray shroud cloth and some of the honey-almond confection he loves. No sooner is the letter written, than there is a knock at the gate, and Jacoba is there with the cloth and the sweet. Immediately there is a problem: should this woman be allowed inside the cloister to see the dying saint? Francis brushes the issue aside. This woman is an exception to the rule. He calls her “Brother Jacoba” (Perugia: 101; Mirror: 112)." (Taken from Engelbert and from this site.)