Stories of the Saints - Grace Hall

St Umiliata and the Weasel

Rosina was the secular name of the Saint who by her humility won the name of St Umiliata. She was of a noble family of Faenza, and was desired in marriage by a prince related to Frederick II. She would not listen to his suit, yet was later,against her will, married to one by the name of Ugolotto Caccianemici.

She had always wished to live a religious life and long pleaded with her husband to permit her to retire to a nunnery. He would, however, never consent until after a severe illness his eyes were opened, and he permitted her to take the veil.

She went to the monastery of St Perpetua in Faenza. There, by her holy life and the wonders she wrought, she so won the veneration of the nuns that, feeling herself in danger of becoming proud, she prayed to be allowed to leave the convent. In answer to her petitions she was carried by unseen hands through the doors and over the walls of the cloister, and arriving in the Appenines, was admitted to a company of nuns of St Clare. Here she remained until again her miracles won for her undesired fame.

Later she found the solitude she had so long craved, for a cell was built for her next to the Church of St Perpetua, and there she lived as a hermit.

Her solitude was broken only by the companionship of a little weasel, which suddenly appeared one day with a bell round its neck. Who can express the pleasure and solace of the little creature's presence to the lonely nun! The weasel shared her daily bread and water, and followed her constantly as she went about her routine of devotions.

But, the time coming when Umiliata was called upon to leave her retreat (for the fame of her sanctity again caused her to be called from the hermit's life she loved, and obliged her to go and found a hospice in Florence), the weasel leaped lightly to the sill of the cell's one narrow window, the bell fell from its neck, it sat up on its haunches, waved, and bowed a polite and affectionate farewell, and disappeared.