Blessed Christine of the Holy Cross - 4th January

Although the year of her birth is unknown, we know that Oringa Menabuoi was born in the village of Santa Croce on the river Arno, close to the town of Pistoia, Italy. According to some historical sources, it is most probable that she was born towards the end of the 30th year of the 13th century. The background of this blessed person follows the traditional ways of those times, when Oringa’s upbringing within a Christian family and her kindly attitude of a young girl, served to indicate that, from an early age, she was drawn towards a greater knowledge of God and of  matters blessed.

In fact, from an early age she was drawn to a clean life in body and heart and her parents brought her up not only in the fear of God but also engendered in her a great spirit of compassion for the poor and miserable. In the 13th century, a time of great social upheavals, there were gradual signs of what, in due course, came to be known as social classes. These changes had a profound effect on society and produced an ever increasing level of people in poverty, who found shade and shelter only in other people’s doorways.

Her attraction to God engendered in her a wish for a life of prayer and contemplation. She was taught from her childhood that she was not going to find happiness from things of this world.

However, not everything was plain sailing for the little Kristina; after the untimely death of her mother, she was maltreated by her siblings who wanted her to get married, something which her wish to dedicate herself entirely to God did not permit her to accept, to the extent that she ran away from home and sought refuge in the town of Lucca where she lived for seven years doing humble jobs without any respite so as to maintain herself. Notwithstanding everything, and far away from home, she maintained a genuine spirit of prayer and recollection, even when overwhelmed by a lot of domestic work which she had to attend to, something she undertook with fidelity.

At the Monte Sacro del Gargano there is the famous sanctuary dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel that dates from medeaval times and attracts a large number of pilgrims. Kristina greatly wished to visit this famous sanctuary, with a great devotion in her heart towards the Archangel Michael. Her wish became a reality around 1265. In that year she started working in Rome in the home of a noble family.

The witness of a fervent Christian life without any compromises had such an effect on those around her that they started to call her “Christine”.

Whilst she was on a pilgrimage at Assisi, to visit the remains of St. Francis, she had what seemed to be an apparition in which she saw particular localities and she felt internally a determination to build there a place where God could be praised and for the love of Christ to be lived through monastic life. This determination led her to take the necessary steps, first to build the place, and then to establish in it a type of consecrated life that later was placed under the direction of the Rule of St. Augustine, for reason that the religious who used to live there, above all B. Kristjana, had shown this wish and they had a particular devotion towards that Order.

Kristjana lived in accordance to the name given to her whilst she lived in Rome; a model of Christ on this earth, where she devoted herself to live in the best way she knew and could, an Evangelical life. God gave her spiritual graces which she used for the benefit of the Christian community: reading of hearts; a clean heart and body; humility of the utmost sincerity; great compassion towards the poor and deprived.

She died in 1310 and her remains are found at the Augustinian monastery of Santa Croce on the river Arno. Her everlasting cult, after due discernment by the Church, was confirmed by Pope Pius VI in 1556. Thus, the Augustinian Order became able to venerate appropriately this creature who tied herself completely to that Order.

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