Santa Verdiana is a medieval hermit closely linked to Castelfiorentino (where her sanctuary stands) and which was highly venerated in the past not only in Valdelsa , but also in Florence . It is mentioned, as well as the sanctuary in the thriller Il Monastero dei delitti by Claudio Aita (Newton Compton).
Almost contemporary with Francesco d'Assisi (whom, according to tradition, he would have known personally), Verdiana was born in Castelfiorentino probably in 1178 from a family of fallen nobles, that of the Attavanti . Hers was a childhood dominated by economic problems, first as a shepherdess, then as a maid with a wealthy relative. The decision to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela represented a turning point in his life. Still today, next to his body, is preserved the ex voto depicting Saint James that the young Verdiana had brought from Compostela. After visiting the Spanish sanctuary, the future saint walked the Via Francigenaon the contrary until reaching Rome where the tombs of the martyrs were. Here it was welcomed, according to legend, by Pope Innocent III. Returning to Castelfiorentino, she had already decided to retire from the world. In 1208 he had himself walled up in a cell on the banks of the Elsa river, near an oratory in the name of Sant'Antonio Abate, a structure used as a hospital for the plague victims. Here she lived for 34 years, completely recluse and, in recent years, with the company of two snakes. A single opening allowed her to attend mass and receive food. His death, which occurred on February 1, 1242, was announced by the killing of a snake and the flight of the other, as well as by the miraculous sound of the bells. In the sanctuary, among other objects and reliquaries, are preserved the remains of the animal and the wool and irons that were the working tools of the nun.
The following of Santa Verdiana spread immediately, also taking on a political connotation with the Municipality of Castelfiorentino in search of its own identity to contrast with its more powerful neighbors. According to the hagiographic tradition, the saint met Francis (let's not forget that her cell was located along the Via Francigena) which would have admitted her to the third Franciscan Order. Curiously, and without any justification, the following iconography will represent Santa Verdiana dressed in the Vallombrosan habit. His following was immediately exported also to Florence where some of his relics were brought to the monastery which was dedicated to his name. Even if the following of the saint will be made official only in 1533 by Pope Clement VII, already in the decades following his death the foundations of the future sanctuary were laid which, in its current grandiose Baroque aspect, will be built in the century. XVIII.
Saint of the day:
Patron Saint of Castelfiorentino, Italy