Blessed Emilia Bicchieri (1238-11314), devotee of the Blessed Virgin, Dominican tertiary, Abbess, ecstatic and visionary, and miracle worker. Blessed Emilia built the first convent for the conventional Third Order Sisters of the Dominican Order.
Emilia was born the fourth of seven daughters to humble and pious parents in northern Italy. Prior to her birth, her mother experienced a mystical vision in which she saw a beautifully constructed new church with a beautiful young woman dressed in white robes, veil, and a wreath of white roses. In the vision, other young women gathered around her, dressed in the same manner, and together, they processed into the church singing hymns of adoration. When Emilia’s mother recounted her vision to her Dominican spiritual advisor, he told her that the child she was to deliver would be a daughter, would do great things for the Lord, and would become a saint.
Despite this premonition, Emilia was treated no differently from her six sisters. She received a proper education, was taught to read and embroider, and engaged in other household tasks. Whenever she was not busy, Emilia could be found in the community—even as a young girl—seeking out those who were in need, and working charitably to relieve them of their burdens. She gave away any money or gifts given to her to those less fortunate, and while her sisters worked to make themselves attractive marriage-prospects, Emilia committed herself to serving the Lord as a nun.
Emilia’s beloved father died when she was just seventeen, having given her the permission to enter a convent. Once she had ensured her mother would be cared for, Emilia used her inheritance to build a convent for sisters of the Third Order Conventual of Saint Dominic in Vercelli. It was the first convent of it’s kind, and the Dominican fathers of Vercelli enthusiastically supported her in her project.
The daily life of the sisters under her direction focused on good works of charity and prayer, and were not as strictly cloistered as other Second Order houses of the time. The Convent of St. Margaret had no lay sisters-- all the sisters were of the same category and shared in all the work of maintaining the church, convent, and house. They prayed regularly, and were encouraged to spend considerable time each day in solitude, contemplating the Lord and His Passion. Any donations or gifts from rich benefactors were promptly distributed to the poor.
Many miracles were also reported at the hands of Blessed Emilia, including miraculous healings of sisters in the infirmary. On this occasion, she had just received the Holy Eucharist and returned to the sick sisters in the infirmary. She said to them, “I am not alone, my sisters; see, I bring Jesus to bless you.” They were cured at once, and were able to partake in the Eucharist. On another occasion, Emilia missed the Eucharist, and arriving at the alter rail, was greeted by an angel who delivered to her the precious body of Christ. At least twice Our Lady is said to have come to see Blessed Emilia, both times to teach her prayer. Emilia always seemed embarrassed by her mystical abilities, as though she had somehow committed a fault.
The life of Blessed Emilia is one of deep devotion, contemplation, and charitable service. She lived a life centered in love and self-denial, one which we can aspire to emulate today. Through her witness, we pray for the strength to empty ourselves of earthly desires and seek only a deeper and more lasting relationship with Our Lord. Blessed Emilia, pray for us!
you led Blessed Emilia to despise all earthly things
and to seek you alone.
By following her example
may we learn self-denial
and love you with grateful hearts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Year 2: Day 230 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Yearning for the Lord.
Requested Intentions: For children and marriage (M); For the birth of a healthy baby (Y); For personal family intentions, for the sick, poor, hungry, and homeless (G); Financial security and peace (J); Grace, peace, and obedience to the will of God in a marriage (H); Successful and blessed marriage for sin, freedom from anxiety for husband, spiritual contentedness for family (N); Employment and health for a husband (B); Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C); Financial assistance and employment (B); For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."