Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew



The saint of the day for June 7 is Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew. Anne was born at Almendral (Avila) on Oct. 10, 1549, and died at Anvers in Belgium on June 7, 1626. In her youth she was a shepherdess, hut already gifted by deep mystical experiences. At the age of 21, she joined the Discalced Carmelite nuns of the first monastery of St. Joseph in Avila as the first lay sister of the reform. Anne was very dear to St. Teresa of Avila, who admitted her to profession on Aug. 15, 1572.

When St. Teresa of Avila visited her foundations, she was frequently accompanied by Sister Anne of St. Bartholomew. Teresa appreciated her gifts and skills, and urged Anne to apply to become a choir sister, rather than remain a lay nun involved in more menial work; but Anne preferred to continue in the lower, humbler position.

As the Carmelite foundress lay dying, Sister Anne cared for her needs meticulously. Mindful of the saint’s desire for neatness, Anne carefully changed her linen, headdress and sleeves. When the last moments of her life arrived, it was Sister Anne who held the dying saint in her arms.

Six years later, French Catholic leaders asked St. Teresa's successor, Sister Anne-of-Jesus, to send some Spanish nuns to Paris to assist in setting up a foundation of Carmelite nuns there. Anne-of-Jesus included Sister Anne of St. Bartholomew in the group of religious chosen for the mission.

When they arrived, the other five nuns were greeted by the Princess de Longueville. Sister Anne, however, snuck off into the kitchen to prepare dinner.  Her superiors advanced her to the rank of choir sister. When, in the midst of difficulties with the foundation, the other Spanish nuns travelled to the Netherlands, Anne remained in France and was appointed prioress, first at Pontoise and then at Tours. Doubting her ability to lead, Blessed Anne, in her prayers to our Lord, referred to herself as a "weak straw". Jesus responded, reassuring her, "It is with straws I light my fire."

From France, Carmelite foundations spread to the Netherlands. Blessed Anne was sent to Mons, where she resided for one year. In 1612 she founded a monastery at Antwerp, Belguim.

Daughters of some of the noblest families of gathered to join this new monastic community. Anne had attracted many to the community. Her reputation for holiness, prophecy and miracle-working preceded her. In fact, she became known as the protector of Antwerp. When the city was under siege by the Protestant Prince of Orange, Anne prayed all night and Antwerp was spared capture.

When Sr. Anne died in 1626, all Antwerp mourned.  When her body lay in state, twenty thousand mourners touched it with their rosaries or other items in order to obtain a relic of this holy Spanish nun. Pope Benedict XV declared Anne blessed in 1917.

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