Depression drew her to God
Saint's moody behavior was actually a spiritual trial
By Tony Staley
St. Flora of Beaulieu
What: Woman religious
Feast: Oct. 5
There's a particular group of saints around whom revolve what many would consider strange stories of paranormal or supernatural happenings.
It can be hard for our early 21st century minds and sensibilities to deal with these accounts because we demand proof by means of photographs or some scientific explanation and verification.
That's impossible with these saints because they lived centuries ago when such means were not available and, had they been imagined, would have been viewed with the same suspicion as stories of these saints engender today.
This week's saint, Flora of Beaulieu, lived nearly 700 years ago in 14th century France.
St. Flora is said to have had a normal childhood, other than she resisted all her parents' attempts to get her married.
Finally, in about 1324, she was admitted into the priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Hospitalers, at Beaulius, between Figeac and the shrine of Rocamadour.
It was only after her entry into the convent that Flora's life took some interesting twists. Suddenly, she underwent many spiritual trials that left her severely depressed. After a while, her moody behavior and sad appearance also began to take their toll on the other members of the order.
The only solace Flora seemed to find was from a visiting confessor who realized that her ordeal was drawing her closer to God.
Eventually she worked her way through this tunnel of depression and began to have mystical experiences. It's said that one year, on All Saints Day, she entered into an ecstacy or trance that lasted for three weeks. During that entire time she had nothing to eat.
Another time, an angel is said to have brought her a piece of consecrated host from a church eight miles away.
Often she was found to know about events or matters that she had no way of learning about. She is also said to have had visions and to have levitated.
Following her death, at age 38, many miracles are said to have taken place at her tomb.
What are we to make of St. Flora and the stories about her? Perhaps that God acts in ways that speak best to the people of that time. Our challenge is to see how God is acting today and to go and do likewise.
(Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints and Dictionary of Saints)