Veronica of Binasco
Born in Binasco (near Milan), Italy, c. 1445; died in Milan in 1497; cultus confirmed in 1517. Veronica was the daughter of poor peasants, with whom she worked in the fields. Hands occupied, united with nature, she raised her heart to God as she labored at reaping and hoeing.
Anxious because her illiteracy might prevent her from growing in holiness, she unsuccessfully tried to teach herself to read while the rest of her family slept. Veronica began to experience constant ecstasies and successive visions of the life of Christ. The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and taught her that all she needed were three mystical letters. The first signified purity of intention; the second, abhorrence of complaining and criticism; the third, daily meditation upon the Passion.
Having learned her lesson well from the Virgin, each day she would arise and dedicate the work of her hands to God. In concentrating upon perfecting her own offering, she had no time for judging others. She did, however, pray for those who manifestly erred. By meditating on the Passion, she forgot her own pains and sorrows in those of Our Lord and her frequent, silent tears in remembering His sufferings.
After three years of patient waiting, she was received as a lay- sister by the Augustinian nuns of Saint Martha's in Milan and spent her life in collecting alms for the convent. Three years later she was afflicted with secret but bodily pains, yet never would consent to being relieved of her labors or to omit her prayers. She said, "I must work while I can, while I have time." She perfected the virtue of joyful obedience. She died on the day she had foretold, after a six-month illness, aged 52
Giovanna Negroni was born in Binasco, (Milan) Italy, in 1445, the daughter of a family of peasants. At the age of twenty-two she entered the monastery of Saint Martha in Milan as a lay sister, since she was illiterate. Because of her devotion to the passion of Christ she took the name of Veronica. She was a great contemplative but she also engaged in numerous manual activities. She took very loving care of the sick sisters and developed an intense apostolate throughout Milan and its environs as she went begging for the community. Biographers tell of her ecstasies and her gifts of prophecy and discernment. She was very humble and used to desire that all her actions be done under the sign of obedience.
The biography of this holy nun is extraordinarily varied in content. There is her friendship with several sisters of her monastery, one of whom was her great admirer and biographer. Then there is the experience of her physical mistreatment by the devil, and her devotion to the Lord's passion and the eucharist. She enjoyed a great reputation among important people of her day, such as Louis the Moor, the avaricious Duke of Milan. Like Saint Catherine of Siena she journeyed to far off places, bearing special messages. Once she traveled to Como to confer with the Franciscan Fra Giovanni, and another time to Rome in 1495 to meet with Pope Alexander VI.
Her biographers note her intense spiritual life, her zeal for the salvation of souls, her suffering over the few days available for communion, and the faith that she confessed when she was able to receive communion. This biography goes on to say that this unlettered nun was hardworking and a contemplative for thirty years. She "always appeared with peaceful countenance, smiling eyes, and always quick to help, being of a strong constitution."
Veronica died on 13 January 1497. The devotion given to her at the time of her death and burial is well documented in several sources. Due to the great throngs that came to venerate her, the body of Sister Veronica remained unburied for five days, and "many of the infirm who touched the holy body recovered their health." "The archbishop, being too ill to investigate, sent his vicar, who entered the monastery to see and ascertain if what was being reported was true. This was the fourth day after her death, and seeing what has been said was true, he was both amazed and filled with wonder."
On 15 December 1517 Pope Leo X granted the nuns permission to celebrate Veronica's feast; as a result Blessed Veronica's name was inserted in the Roman martyrology. In 1798, with the suppression of the monasteries of Lombardy by the revolutionaries, her body was moved to the parish church of Binasco where her mortal remains are preserved.
In several regions of Christendom there is honored under this name a pious matron of Jerusalem who, during the Passion of Christ, as one of the holy women who accompanied Him to Calvary, offered Him a towel on which he left the imprint of His face. She went to Rome, bringing with her this image of Christ, which was long exposed to public veneration. To her likewise are traced other relics of the Blessed Virgin venerated in several churches of the West. The belief in the existence of authentic images of Christ is connected with the old legend of Abgar of Edessa and the apocryphal writing known as the "Mors Pilati". To distinguish at Rome the oldest and best known of these images it was called vera icon (true image), which ordinary language soon made veronica. It is thus designated in several medieval texts mentioned by the Bollandists (e.g. an old Missal of Augsburg has a Mass "De S. Veronica seu Vultus Domini"), and Matthew of Westminster speaks of the imprint of the image of the Savior which is called Veronica: "Effigies Domenici vultus quae Veronica nuncupatur". By degrees, popular imagination mistook this word for the name of a person and attached thereto several legends which vary according to the country.
In Italy Veronica comes to Rome at the summons of the Emperor Tiberius, whom she cures by making him touch the sacred image. She thenceforth remains in the capitol of the empire, living there at the same time as Sts. Peter and Paul, and at her death bequeaths the precious image to Pope Clement and his successors.
In France she is given in marriage to Zacheus, the convert of the Gospel, accompanies him to Rome, and then to Quiercy, where her husband becomes a hermit, under the name of Amadour, in the region now called Rocamadour. Meanwhile Veronica joins Martial, whom she assists in his apostolic preaching.
In the region of Bordeaux Veronica, shortly after the Ascension of Christ, lands at Soulac at the mouth of the Gironde, bringing relics of the Blessed Virgin; there she preaches, dies, and is buried in the tomb which was long venerated either at Soulac or in the Church of St. Seurin at Bordeaux. Sometimes she has even been confounded with a pious woman who, according to Gregory of Tours, brought to the neighboring town of Bazas some drops of the blood of John the Baptist, at whose beheading she was present.
In many places she is identified with the Haemorrhissa who was cured in the Gospel.
These pious traditions cannot be documented, but there is no reason why the belief that such an act of compassion did occur should not find expression in the veneration paid to one called Veronica, even though the name has found no place in the Hieronymian Martyrology or the oldest historical Martyrologies, and St. Charles Borromeo excluded the Office of St. Veronica from the Milan Missal where it had been introduced. The Roman Martyrology also records at Milan St. Veronica de Binasco, the Order of St. Augustine, on 13 January
The Augustinian Family celebrates her feast on 13 January.