Saint Camilla Baptista Varano
(1458 – 1524)



A Teardrop for Christ
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Think of the love of Christ and of His bitter sufferings,” the Franciscan friar pleaded.  “Resolve to shed a tear – just one little tear – every Friday in honor of His Passion.”   It was Lent 1466 in the flourishing ducal city of Camerino, Italy, and among those who heard this fervent exhortation was eight year old Camilla Varano.  Grace touched the little girl’s heart as she resolved to do exactly what the preacher had counseled: to shed one tear every Friday in honor of Jesus’ sufferings.

Keeping her Lenten pledge proved to be more difficult than Camilla had imagined.  For this little girl was not the product of a devout Christian family, but the illegitimate daughter of the most powerful man in Camerino, the Duke Giulio Cesare da Varano.  In the opulent Renaissance court in which she was raised, high culture and loose morals, classical erudition and political ambition freely mingled. Camilla was vivacious, intelligent and independent. When she first began visiting the palace’s chapel on Friday to shed the required tear, the duke’s daughter admitted that she stayed only briefly and swiftly returned to the glamour of court life.

But slowly grace began to work in her heart, showing her the emptiness of worldly pleasure and the joy of living for God alone.   At twenty-one, Camilla made a private vow of virginity.  Two years later she was able to convince her ambitious father that God was calling her not to the court but to the cloister.  Camilla entered the Poor Clare Monastery in Urbino, where she took the name Baptista and made her vows.

A few years later, she returned to Camerino with eight other sisters to found a new monastery of Poor Clares.   It was here that the “teardrop” of her consecrated life became a mighty river. St. Clare’s stirring admonition: Meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Passion, became Sister Camilla Baptista’s spiritual watchword. She accepted the sufferings that came to her – interior trials, illness, exile, the tragic deaths of her father and brothers – in a spirit of deep faith, aware that every suffering united to the Passion of Christ can bear rich fruit for the kingdom.   She served her community as abbess and vicaress and bequeathed to her Sisters several profound treatises on the mystical life.  A true bride of her Crucified Lord, Camilla Baptista Varano died on March 31, 1524 at the age of 64 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010.

St. Camilla Baptista’s life witnesses to the wonders that God can do, even with one little teardrop!  May she lead us all on that spiritual quest to give Christ love for Love, blood for Blood, life for Life and so join in her eternal song of gratitude to Him who is goodness, comfort and rest, life and peace and our beloved Spouse.  

Almighty God, You made the virgin 
Saint Camilla Baptista
 excel in meditating
on the Passion of Your Son
 Jesus Christ.
Grant us through her intercession to bear in our hearts
the mortification of the Cross and thus merit to obtain eternal life.

Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.