|Feast: June 20
born towards the middle of the sixth century; died about 612. The family of St.
Florentina furnishes us with a rare example of lives genuinely religious, and
actively engaged in furthering the best interests of Christianity. Sister of
three Spanish bishops in the time of the Visigothic dominion (Leander, Isidore,
and Fulgentius), she consecrated her virginity to God, and all four have been
canonized by the Church. Florentina was born about the middle of the sixth
century, being younger than her brother Leander, later Archbishop of Seville,
but older than Isidore, who succeeded Leander as archbishop of the same see.
Before his elevation to the episcopal dignity, Leander had been a monk, and it
was through his influence that Florentina embraced the ascetic life. She
associated with herself a number of virgins, who also desired to forsake the
world, and formed them into a religious community. Later sources declare their
residence to have been the convent of S. Maria de Valle near Ecija (Astigis), of
which city her brother Fulgentius was bishop. In any case, it is certain that
she had consecrated herself to God before the year 600, as her brother Leander,
who died either in the year 600 or 601, wrote for her guidance an extant work
dealing with a nun's rule of life and with contempt for the world ("Regula
sive Libellus de institutione virginum et de contemptu mundi ad Florentinam
sororem", P.L. LXXII, 873 sqq.). In it the author lays down the rules
according to which cloistered virgins consecrated to God should regulate their
lives. He strongly advises them to avoid intercourse with women living in the
world, and with men, especially youths; recommends strict temperance in eating
and drinking, gives advice concerning the reading of and meditation on Holy
Scripture, enjoins equal love and friendship for all those living together in
community, and exhorts his sister earnestly to remain true to her holy state.
Florentina regulated her life according to the advice of her brother, entered
with fervour into the spirit of the religious life, and was honoured as a saint
after her death. Her younger brother Isidore also dedicated to her his work
"De fide catholica contra Judeos", which he wrote at her request.
Florentina died early in the seventh century and is venerated as the patroness
of the diocese of Plasencia. Her feast falls on 20 June. The name is written
Florentia in the Roman martyrology, but Florentina is without doubt the correct
J. P. Kirsch
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press,
Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
Provided Courtesy of: