Sunday, April 3, 2011
April 5 -- Feast of Blessed Juliana of Cornillon
Perhaps she was blessed, but you wouldn't know it by reading her CV. Still, one big accomplishment can outweigh a lot of bad luck, especially if your work is eventually completed by a big dog like Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Juliana started out at the convent in Cornillon, then became an Augustinian nun at Liege, and then returned to Cornillon as the prioress. She worked with the sick and administered a hospital.
Visions of Jesus told her that there ought to be a feast honoring the sacrament of Communion. Her career sagged when she began to advocate for this. Visions were usually a safe way for women to comment on religious matters; while they ought not be having ideas of their own, they could be vehicles for divinely inspired messages. In this case, the messages were used to launch an investigation of the prioress, leading to her dismissal for misuse of hospital funds. The charges were groundless, but the area around Liege was rife with political corruption and rivalry. Any office, any budget, was a tool to be used by one faction against the other, and Juliana just got caught in the crossfire.
Robert of Thourotte, Bishop of Liege, investigated, vindicated, and reinstated her. Then he died and she was again driven out. She bounced around from convent to convent -- there was a surplus of nuns in those days -- and finally settled among the Cistercians at Salzinnes. Then Henry II of Luxembourg burned the place down. She became an anchoress at Fosses-la-Ville, where she died.
Meanwhile, the proposal for the Feast of the Body of Christ, a celebration of the Eucharist itself, was slowly moving forward. Pope Urban IV assigned St. Thomas Aquinas to write the office for the feast, which is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.
Posted by Tom Major at 8:01 AM