Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

Women of Fortitude: Blesseds Diana d’Andalo, Cecilia and Amata, O.P.

Blesseds Diana Cecilia Amata

Today we celebrate the feast of three of the earliest nuns of the Order: Blesseds Diana, Cecilia and Amata.  While many people think of nuns as quiet, wallflower types, these three women exemplify the tenacity and fortitude that is more common in the Order of Preachers.

Diana d’Andalo, a young woman of noble family in Bologna, went to hear the preaching of Bl. Reginald, attired as usual in costly and fashionable garments.  Now it just happened that the preacher was decrying feminine luxury and vanity.  His words went home to Diana’s heart, she felt humbled, she was enlightened and transformed.  Without delay she discarded her fine clothing and set herself to found the Dominican monastery of St. Agnes, in spite of many trials and obstacles, and particularly strong opposition from her powerful family.

When her family finally relented and the monastery of St. Agnes was underway, Dominican nuns from the monastery in Rome were asked to join the new nuns at St. Agnes and help form them in the Dominican life.  Among them was Cecilia and Amata.  We know very little about Amata, other than her connection to the Blesseds Diana and Cecilia.  But of Cecilia, we know much more.

Cecilia received the habit from St. Dominic at the age of seventeen, at San Sisto, in Rome.  As St. Mary Magdalen had been permitted to be the friend of Our Lord, so Cecilia attached herself to St. Dominic, and the holy Patriarch, finding in this simple and generous soul a certain conformity to his own, spoke to her and treated her, on his side with a truly paternal confidence.  By this means, Cecilia has been able to hand down to us certain precious details in the life of St. Dominic which render him even more lovable in the eyes of his children.  While St. Dominic’s sons spoke of his preaching, his knowledge and fidelity to truth, through the eyes of St. Cecilia, we see more of his tender compassion and care for others.  She is also the only we have to know of St. Dominic’s physical appearance and attributes, such as the sound of his voice, which were etched upon her memory and in her later years, described with vivid detail to be recorded in Dominican archives.

Prayer: St. Dominic, beloved father! Pardon us for having followed your counsels and maintained your spirit so imperfectly.

Practice: Desire to imitate our holy Father Dominic, and in order to do so, say before each action: “What would St. Dominic do in my place?”

From “Saints and Saintly Dominicans: Daily Reflections on Their Lives”, edited by Rev. Thomas a Kempis Reilly, O.P. (1915).

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