Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint by Cecilia Ferrazzi

By Cecilia Ferrazzi

Charged by way of the Venetian Inquisition with the wide awake and cynical feigning of holiness, Cecelia Ferrazzi (1609-1684) asked and received the unheard of chance to shield herself via a presentation of her lifestyles tale. Ferrazzi's particular inquisitorial autobiography and the transcripts of her previous testimony, expertly transcribed and eloquently translated into English, let us input an surprising area of the previous and listen to 'another voice'—that of a humble Venetian girl who had outstanding reviews and exhibited remarkable braveness. Born in 1609 into an artisan kin, Cecilia Ferrazzi desired to develop into a nun. while her mom and dad' loss of life within the plague of 1630 made it financially very unlikely for her to go into the convent, she refused to marry and as a unmarried laywoman set out in pursuit of holiness. ultimately she improvised a vocation: operating homes of safe haven for ''girls in danger,'' younger women vulnerable to being lured into prostitution. Ferrazzi's common visions persuaded her, in addition to a few clerics and buddies one of the Venetian elite, that she was once heading in the right direction. The socially worthwhile carrier she used to be supplying improved this impresssion. now not each person, even if, used to be confident that she used to be a real favourite of God. In 1664 she used to be denounced to the Inquisition. The Inquisition convicted Ferrazzi of the pretense of sanctity. but her autobiographical act allows us to determine in shiny aspect either the possibilities and the hindrances provided to seventeenth-century ladies.

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In other instances, such as the "miraculous" birth of her sister, divine intervention modified the conditions of her subjection just enough to make possible her obedience to earthly superiors. During the eighteen years between the death of her parents and her tique>" In Espenel1zareuqtosaescntturefemm1111li tra Medioevoedetamoderna,ed Manlena Modica Vasta (Palermo Bonnano, 1992), pp 135-51 24. Tnal Record, Sentence (1 September 1665), separately pagmated, fol 2r 13 14 Introduction establishment of a house for "girls in danger," Ferrazzi spent a prolonged adolescence under the surveillance of lay protectors/superiors: her uncle, Antonio and lppolita Maffei, Andriana Cuccina, Modesta Salandi, and Marietta Cappello.

I ended up with my head, or rather my scalp, peeled, for my braids remained [in his hand] and the hair never grew back, and thus I'm bald now. While this was going on, my sister, who had been asleep, woke up, saying that she'd heard me shout, and already the Devil had disappeared, having heard me invoke the names of Jesus and Mary. "The following day, after Monsignor sent some gentlewomen took me to the convent and others, Patriarch Monsignor of Santa Maria Maggiore [Federico] Polacco Corner arrived, had and he so that they would take me in, and because they didn't want to, he yelled loudly, 'I'm giving you a saint and you don't want her:" And while this was being written down, she added voluntarily, IIBut it isn't true, sir, because I'm a sinner.

When I came out of the Cappuccine, he [Polacco] put me in the Dom- inican pinzochereat San Martin, and I stayed there about a month, or fifteen or twenty days. And because so many people were coming [to see me], he urged me to have myself put in an underground room, and during those few days he had me exorcised by various men in his presence: by a father of San Giobbe [Raimondo da Venezia], one from Santo Stefano [Nicola Stoppa], and a confessor of the nuns of Santa Giustina [Giovanni Zogallil And the reason for the exorcisms was that everyone said that I lived on communion alone," and that if I tried to eat, I didn't hold down the food.

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