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Monday, November 18, 2013

Today is the Feast of Blessed Salome, Virgin and Poor Clare Nun

Salome was a daughter of the royal family of Prince Lescon V, and a sister of Boleslas the Chaste, the virginal spouse of Blessed Kinga (July 23). She was born at Crakow, the capital of Poland, in 1201. At the age of 3, according to the custom of the time, she was betrothed to Prince Colman of Hungary, a brother of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (Nov 17), and was sent to the court of King Andrew II in order to be raised according to the customs of the country.

The little girl proved to be a child of grace and a model to all with whom she associated. When the day of her marriage arrived, both spouses resolved to preserve their virginity. They preserved their vow intact to the end of their lives.

The pious couple vied with each other in their practices of piety and penance. With the consent of her husband, Salome received the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis at the hands of her confessor, a Franciscan friar. Following her example, many of the ladies at court renounced worldly pomp and vanity, and the palace took on the appearance of a convent. Even when her husband became king of Galicia, and Salome, in addition to the crown that was here by birth, received a royal crown, she remained the simple daughter of St. Francis in the Order of Penance.

King Coleman fell in battle against the Tatars in 1225. Salome then resolved to consecrate herself to God, and used her wealth in supporting the poor and in building churches. In 1240 she entered the convent of the Poor Clares at Zawichost. The convent was later removed to the vicinity of Crakow, to protect it against the inroads of the Tatars, and it was known as St. Mary of the Stairs. Here Salome continued to live for 28 years, highly respected by her fellow sisters because of her virtue. On several occasions she was elected to the office of abbess.

When she was 67 years old, she was seized with an illness one day during holy Mass, and she predicted that her death would follow shortly. Admonishing those about her deathbed to practice charity and harmony, and faithfully observe the rule, she died November 17, 1268, favored and fortified in her last hour with a vision of our Lady and the Child Jesus. A heavenly sign that she was receiving a third crown, the best of them all, was the fact that her sisters in religion, at the moment of her death, saw a brilliant start rise from her lips and mount to heaven.

When her body was exhumed seven months after burial, it was found incorrupt and giving forth a sweet odor. She was then entombed in the Franciscan Church at Crakow beside her husband, King Colman. Many miracles occurred in testimony of her sanctity, whereupon Pope Clement X beatified her.


1. Consider how precious is the virtue of purity of heart, which shone so brightly in Blessed Salome. Christ pronounced Salome blessed in advance when He said: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Matt 5:18). Blessed are such souls even here on earth, for they possess that interior bliss which results from a good conscience and from the right order of things preserved despite the warring emotions of the heart. The pure of heart also win the affections of their fellowmen, just as little children are believed by everyone. The greatest blessing of purity, however, is the assurance of eternal happiness; for, says Eternal Truth, "they shall see God." -- Should we not be eager to acquire this precious virtue?

2. Consider what contributes purity of heart. It considers, not only in rejecting all indecent, impure desires and affections, but also in conquering all the other passions which stain the soul, especially injustice and avarice, pride and vanity, lying and deceit. In answer to the question as to who will be admitted to the vision of God, the Psalmist says: "The innocent in hands, and clean of heart, who has not taken his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbor" (Ps 23:4). -- How do matters stand with you?

3. Consider how we can preserve purity of heart. Be ever mindful of the high origin of your soul. A person of high birth needs only to remember his distinguished extraction in order to refrain from doing anything unbecoming. Your soul is of utmost distinguished origin. It has been created by God Himself according to His image and likeness; it has come forth from baptism a child of God and an heir of heaven. If sensuality, pride, or avarice attack your soul and threaten to stain it, say with Blessed Salome: "I am of too noble an extraction, I am too distinguished in birth to yield to anything of that sort," and then banish the tempter with contempt. -- Mindful, however, of your weakness, so not fail to plead with the prophet: "Create a clean heart in me, O God!" (Ps 50:12).


O God, who didst combine in Blessed Salome contempt of an earthly kingdom with the luster of virginity in the married state, grant, we beseech Thee, that imitating her example, we may serve Thee with a pure and humble heart and deserve to attain to the imperishable crown of glory in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press