Wednesday, May 29, 2013

St. Bona of Pisa



The saint of the day for May 29 is St. Bona of Pisa (1156 - 1207), virgin.

Bona was the daughter of a single mother who grew up believing that her father had vanished during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, when, in fact, her parents had never married. She discovered this through a vision, which led her to Jerusalem, where her she found her father alive.

She was a mystic and visionary. Bona experienced visions from early childhood of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint James the Greater. By the age of ten,  she dedicated herself as an Augustinian tertiary. She regularly fasted from an early age, taking only bread and water three days a week.

At the age of 14, she made the first of many journeys, travelling to see her father who was fighting in the Crusades near Jerusalem. On her way home, she was captured and imprisoned by Islamic pirates in the Mediterranean, but was rescued by her countrymen. She made pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and to Spain nine times, leading groups of pilgrims each time. On her final pilgrimage, she became very ill, but was able to return to Pisa and died in her little room near the church of San Martino at the age of 51.

 In 1962, Bona of Pisa was canonized by Pope John XXIII. She is the patron saint of travelers, tour guides, pilgrims, flight attendants, and the city of Pisa.

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