St. Juliana Falconieri, born in Florence in 1270, niece of St. Alexis Falconieri, even as a child showed such sanctity that her holy uncle told her mother that she had given birth to an angel. To hear sin spoken of made her tremble.
At the age of fifteen she consecrated her virginity to God. She formed the Order of the Mantelette (wearers of a short cloak or mantle); she was then asked by St. Philip Beniti to take charge of the whole order of the Servites and thus may be regarded as a second foundress of this community devoted to the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin.
Toward the end of her life, on account of constant sickness, it was not possible for her to receive the Blessed Sacrament; she asked that it might be held near her heart. When this was done the sacred host miraculously penetrated her breast. She died on June 19, 1340.
In olden times the pagans placed in the mouth of the dead a piece of money as payment to the boatman Charon (one of their gods). In the fourth century it was already an ancient tradition of the Roman Church to comfort the last moments of the faithful by administration of the Eucharist; the Viaticum also was sometimes placed on the breast of the dead person. This custom which testified to the robust faith of that early age in the immortality of the soul and final resurrection was afterwards modified by the Church, decreeing that Communion after Confession and Extreme Unction should suffice as Viaticum.
(Adapted from The New Roman Missal by Father Lasance)
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