Sunday, May 7, 2023

The Family of Saints: Florentina

Severianus and Theodora were members of well-to-do Hispano-Roman families in the 6th century who bore four children, all of whom became saints. The family lived in Cartagena, or Carthago Nova ("New Carthage"), on the southeast coast of Spain. The family moved to Seville about 554 CE, but their parents died before the children were all grown up.

Younger than Leander but older than Isidore, Florentina was being raised by Leander. His embracing of the monastic life probably influenced her to do the same, so she and a number of virgins banded together to form a religious community. Leander wrote for her a guide to living an ascetic life away from the world; since he died in 600 or 601, she must have chosen the cloistered life prior to that year.

Among his "rules" were to avoid interactions with men, especially young men; and to avoid interactions with women who were still living in the world. The women should be temperate in their eating and drinking. They should read Holy Scripture and meditate on it. Those living in the community should hold each other in equal love and friendship.

She died about 612, and her feast day is 20 June. She is considered the patroness of the diocese of Plasencia. The statue above is from the Cathedral in Seville. Her bones are interred in two places in Spain: a few are in the cathedral of Murcia, but most of her remains are in Berzocana, along with those of her brother Fulgentius, of whom I will have more to say next time.

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