Poor Clare Colettine Nuns of Rockford, Illinois | Blessed Helen Enselmini
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Blessed Helen Enselmini

Blessed Helen Enselmini
Born: 1208, Padua, Italy
Died: November 4th, 1242, Padua, Italy

The picture one often sees of Blessed Helen seems to be portraying a young nun in a mystical ecstasy. Eyes closed, head hanging back, hands gently resting on her chest…. In reality this is a picture of a young woman tragically blind, mute, and mostly paralyzed! But within this frail frame, Blessed Helen embraced these painful crosses and achieved remarkable union with God.\

Helen Enselmini was born in 1208 to noble parents in Padua, Italy. Like St. Clare, she heard St. Francis preach a sermon and was forever changed. Although only 12 years old, she promptly entered the new Poor Clare monastery started in Padua by St. Francis and St. Agnes, sister of St. Clare (according to tradition). It is also commonly held that St. Anthony of Padua was her spiritual director.

She was noted for her fidelity to the rules regarding silence and was regarded as an exemplary sister. In addition, she received private revelations regarding purgatory and heavenly rewards.

It’s rather unclear how long her final illness lasted, but it was terrible: severely disabled, her only mode of communication was possible through limited use of her fingers. But her sisters saw the joy of a deep union with Christ radiating through her tortured features.

Although an early twentieth century biography wistfully states, “She would have been a splendid case for [a cure through the intercession of Our Lady of] Lourdes,” Blessed Helen remained infirm until her death. She even went without food for the preceding three months! Pope Innocent XII beatified this Poor Clare, also incorrupt, in 1695.