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Baptista Varani

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Baptista Varani (Varano) (b. at Camerino, in the March of Ancona, 9 April 1458; d. there, 31 May 1527) was an Italian Poor Clare and ascetical writer.


Her father, Julius Caesar Varano or de Varanis, Duke of Camerino, belonged to an illustrious family; her mother, Joanna Malatesta, was a daughter of Sigismund, Prince of Rimini. At baptism Baptista received the name of Camilla. Of the first ten and the last twenty-three years of her life little or nothing is known; our knowledge of the intervening years is derived almost entirely from her own writings. This revelation of herself was brought about through the influence of her confessor, Peter of Mogliano, provincial of the Franciscans in the Marches (1490). It seems to have been the eloquence of Mogliano that brought about the "conversion" of Baptista, who, for a time at least, appears to have been captivated by the glamour of the world. Her father did all in his power to force his daughter into marriage, even to the extent of imprisoning her. But Baptista resisted his plans so firmly that after two years and a half he restored her to liberty, for fear, as he said, of drawing upon himself divine vengeance, and gave his consent to her becoming a nun.

On 14 November 1481, Baptista entered the monastery of the Poor Clares at Urbino. Not long afterwards her father founded a new monastery of that order at Camerino, and presented it to his daughter. Baptista introduced the primitive observance of the rule there, and thenceforth her vigorous and impressive personality found scope not only in the administration of this monastery, of which she became the first abbess, but also in the production of various literary works.

Baptista died on the feast of Corpus Christi, and was buried in the choir of her monastery.

The cultus of Baptista was approved by Pope Gregory XVI in 1843, and her feast is kept in the Franciscan Order on 2 June.


She wrote with equal facility in Latin and Italian, and who was accounted one of the most accomplished scholars of her day. Her works include the: "Recordationes et instructiones spirituales novem", which she wrote about 1491; "Opus de doloribus mentalibus D.N.J.C.", written during 1488-91 and first published at Camerino in 1630; "Liber suae conversionis", a story of her life, written in 1491, and first published at Macerata in 1624. These works have been edited by the Bollandists in connection with some of Baptista's letters. But most of her "Epistolae spirituales ad devotas personas" as well as her "Carmina pleraque latina et vulgaria" are still unpublished.

As a whole the writings of Baptista are remarkable for originality of thought, spirituality, and vivid language. Both Philip Neri and St. Alphonsus have recorded their admiration for her.


  • Acta Sanctorum, May, VII (Antwerp, 1688), 476-514;
  • Luke Wadding, Annales Minorum ad annum 1509, n. 25;
  • ____, Scriptores ord. Min. (3rd ed., 1906), 36;
  • Sbaralea, Supplementum, pt. I (1908), 113-114;
  • LEON DE CLARY, Lives of the Saints and Blessed of the Three Orders of St. Francis, II (Taunton, 1886), 315-48;
  • DE RAMBUTEAU, La Bienheureuse Varani, Princesse de Camerino et religieuse franciscaine (Paris, 1906);
  • JORGENSEN, I det Hoje (Copenhagen, 1908), German tr. in Excelsis (Kempten and Munich, 1911),
  • For an appreciation of her poetry see CRESCIMBENI, Storia della volgare poesia, I, lib. 2, cap. xiii.

External links

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.

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