Vanna of Orvieto
(Italy, d. 1306)
Her heart burned so intensely that she took off all her clothes to pray and still was drenched in sweat; when she went into a rapture, stretched out as though on the cross, mosquitoes would land on her unblinking eyes.
Frederick of Regensburg
(Germany, d. 1329)
Although not a monk, he chopped wood at the monastery.
At eleven, as she received her First Communion, a glowing host was seen by all above her head; she stayed on after Mass to pray. Hours later they found her still kneeling, smiling, and dead. It was said that she had often said: “Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?”
Flora of Beaulieu
The other nuns ridiculed her, for she was usually silent and depressed but sometimes ran screaming down the corridors; then one day they saw her hovering in the air with her arms outstretched and blood streaming from her mouth and sides.
She led a life of extravagance until the night, dressing for a party, she saw in the mirror the face of a demon rather than her own, and became a nun.
(Italy, d. 1380)
A monk who died of the plague on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, his name was oddly or randomly appropriated by Shakespeare.
A Medici, he renounced his family, went to live unsheltered in the forest, dressed in a goatskin, and never again spoke a word.
At fifteen, she was killed with a spindle by her wicked stepmother who discovered her praying instead of doing her chores.
(Bohemia, d. 1393)
King Wenceslaus IV had him drowned when he refused to say what Queen Sophie had told him in confession.
Margaret the Barefooted
(Italy, d. 1395)
In solidarity with the poor, she dressed in rags and never wore shoes, winter or summer, and her husband despised her for it.
He converted twelve robbers who became the Poor Brothers of St. Jerome; when his father and two brothers were murdered, he refused to leave his cell and forgave the assassin.
Mary Mancini of Pisa
(Italy, d. 1431)
At five, she was transported to the cell where Peter Gambacorta was being tortured and cut the ropes binding him; at twenty-five she had lost two husbands and all her seven children; the actual Catherine of Siena came to visit and as they prayed together they were surrounded by a bright cloud out of which a white dove flew; she became a nun.
At seventy he went to preach in Syria where, to his regret, he was not martyred, and he returned to Italy to die.
A friend of Fra Angelico, it is said that the most remarkable thing about him was that he always preached with a skull in his hands.
John of Sahagún
He preached against extravagant clothes, and women would pelt him with stones on the street; he preached so severely against sex outside of marriage that a woman poisoned him when she lost her repentant lover.
(France, c. 1420–1471)
He reformed the Carmelites to admit nuns; he was mistaken for Ethiopian; he died from eating unripe mulberries.