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St. Julianna: When you encounter others, do they see you as a Christian?

St. Julianna lived in the late 1200’s in Florence. She belonged to a group of religious women called The Mantellate. They were a group of lay women who helped the sick and cared for the poor. The Mantellate were known around Florence by their good deeds, but they were also easily recognized by their black habits. The women were dedicated to the Dominican Order and wore black for humility and white for innocence. This group was unique in that they were not nuns, but they were free to move about the city and to live at home with their families. The Mantellate included women from all walks of life including virgins, widows and mothers. 


St. Julianna lived during the Middle Ages which meant there was constant conflict among wealthy and noble families. Her family was not only wealthy, but they were very faith-filled and loved God. They often gave up their inheritance to serve God in bold ways. Julianna turned down many marriage offers to follow God’s call on her life to serve those who were less fortunate. Julianna dedicated her life to serving the poor and impoverished. Other women in the city began to notice her good works and soon followed her into ministry. Living in a city full of conflict and chaos, the women were often referred to as peacemakers.


The Mantellate were also known for their deep prayer life. They fasted several days a week and then lived off only bread and water one to two days a week. They offered their fasting for peace and healing in their community. 


St. Julianna was a bold leader and encouraged women to live up to their full potential in all areas of their lives. She served as the head of the Mantellate until her death. As she was approaching the end, she suffered terribly from stomach issues. In fact, it was so bad that she was unable to receive the Holy Eucharist in her final days. Upon her request, the visiting priest placed a corporal on her chest and placed the Eucharist upon it. At the time of St. Julianna's death, the host disappeared and in its place appeared a cross similar to that on the Eucharist. Pictures of St. Julianna often shows her in the severe black habit with the host on her chest. 


Even though St. Julianna lived long ago, she is a fitting role model for women today. The world is still filled with conflict and division just like in her time. Now more than ever, God is calling you to shine the light of Christ in each and every situation that you encounter. It is important to live your life in a way that inspires and encourages others to seek God. You don’t have to wear a black habit to be an example of Christ in the world. There are people in your family, in your neighborhood, at work or in your communities that need hope and for someone to take an interest in them. Like St. Julianna, you can be an example worth imitating by living the Gospel and sharing God’s love with everyone you encounter. Her feast day is on June 12th. 


Jennie Guinn is a Catholic speaker, Life Coach, Podcaster, Weekly Radio Show Host on Nashville Catholic Radio and Radio Maria USA, and the founder of Catholic Moms in the Middle. After 26 years of working in Catholic education, Jennie felt God calling her "to step out of the boat" to serve in a new way. In her new ministry, she equips and encourages middle-life women to encounter the love of the Father and to be transformed and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit so they can MAGNIFY Christ in their corner of the world.


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