Born Eleanor Girlani in the small Italian town of Trino (Piedmont), Eleanor demonstrated great piety and holiness as a child. Despite her family’s noble heritage, her only ambition in life was to become a Benedictine sister, and together with some friends and relatives, she prepared to travel to the monastery of Rocca delle Donne, who had agreed to accept and raise her as a member of the Order. However, this was not to occur. Upon mounting her horse to travel, the animal refused to carry her to the monastery. As this particular horse was one of gentle and obedient spirit, the animal’s refusal to move was interpreted as a sign from the Lord, and Eleanor returned home. Despairing, she prayed for guidance and contented herself in her own daily practices of contemplation, penance, and service to others.
Eleanor received the veil as a Carmelite sister at age eighteen, taking the name Archangela as her own. She was made Prioress of the abbey, given her nobility (as was the custom of the time), and became a model of Christian virtue to her sisters. Especially devoted to the Holy Trinity, Archangela spent hours in the chapel praying and contemplating the divinity of the Lord.
“Jesus, my Love" and peacefully died at the young age of thirty-four. Based upon her request, was buried in the simplicity of a common grave at the monastery. Three years later, when the tomb was re-opened to commit another sister to the earth, her remains were found incorrupt and exuding the fragrance of holiness. Great miracles were reported, and her relics were enclosed in a crystal tomb, and placed above the alter at the monastery.
Nearly 300 years after her death, the monastery in Mantua was closed, and Archangela’s relics were translated to Trino, where she had been born. Her relics, still venerated today, were placed in the church of Saint Lorenzo. There, her body rests, wearing the habit of the barefoot Carmelite, in a casket of crystal.
|Incorrupt Body of Beata Archangela Girlani|
|Church of San Lorenzo in Trino|
Father in heaven,
Through her prayers
may we taste the delights of your glory
already here on earth,
and look upon you for ever in heaven.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.