Today is the feast day of St. Magdalena of Canossa (1792-1799)! In addition to the fact that she struggled with anxiety, discouragement, and scruples her vocation evolved in the manner we are all familiar with– the unfolding of life events. Circumstances often convolute our paths and thwart our best-laid plans. In St. Magdalena’s case the results of Napoleon’s siege and her family duties were those circumstances. She did have the good fortune of having a spiritual director with whom she conversed via letters. Her letters are gone but his letters comprise a book with a very long title (see below).
Here are a few words from her director addressed to her at different points in her life. They are not here to chide you for having anxiety and depression but in order to let you know you have another Saint who understands your difficulties via life-long personal struggle. That’s always comforting.
“My Daughter, I do not want you to be anxious.” November 1792, p. 34
“Cheer up, let us walk with courage and trust God along these paths. They are rugged and hard but they bring us to God.” March 1793, p 46
“I say first of all: I do not want you to be so anxious…” October 1793, p. 62
“I desire too, my Daughter, that you keep far from scruples and discouragement…” January 1795, p. 80
“I am sorry for your various woes, but most of all for your agitation… These fears and agitations are always growing because you think too much…” June 1799 p. 162
St. Magdalena of Canossa, who understands anxiety, discouragement, and obsessive-compulsions, pray for us!
Source of quotes: Letters of Spiritual Direction addressed to Marchioness Magdalen Gabriella of Canossa (1792-1799). Introduction and footnotes by Adele Cattari. Translated by M. Teresa Mathias. Copyright 1982 by Facolta’ Teologica Dell’Italia Settentrionale – Milano. —Picture is public domain.