St Agnes’ friends and daughters
Blessed Humiliana 1220 -1246
Married, very unhappily, at the age of 16, Humiliana found herself a twenty year old widow with two small children. She wanted to enter St Agnes’ community at Monticelli. Instead, Agnes helped her to found the first Tertiary Recollect Community in Florence and she lived with her children in her father’s house.
Sister Piccarda Donat
Dante greeting Piccarda and the Empress Constance, from Giovanni de Paolo’s illustrations to Paradiso.
After the death of St Agnes, Piccarda entered the community in 1277, probably as a teenager. In the grip of the strife between the White Guelphs and the Black, her brothers took her from her convent, though she was a professed Poor Clare and forced her into a marriage with a man they wanted as a political ally.
Piccarda prayed that God would protect her vows. She died the night of her marriage.
The Poet Dante, himself a Franciscan tertiary, makes her a character in his Divine Comedy and he meets her in the Paradise of the Moon - the lowest step of heaven. He asks her how she feels about being so low down in glory and she responds with what is perhaps the most beautiful line in his poem: In His will is our peace. It is written up today on the wall as you approach the sanctuaries on La Verna.
The opera singer Elena Tavella playing Piccarda in the opera La Divina Comedia by Mgr Marco Frisina