Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just Who Is Saint Olivia?









Dear readers:
I receive so many questions and requests about Saint Olivia—in fact, they come in every day— that I thought I'd give you a little history and background about this fascinating saint. (I think some may be confused because the titles of my books are Olivia and the Little Way and its pro-life sequel Olivia's Gift, so they think perhaps the books are about her! That may be an idea for one of my future books, but of course my fiction books are about a fifth-grader named Olivia who develops a loving devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.)

I do feel a special connection to St. Olivia, since she hailed from Palermo, Sicily, and I am of Sicilian descent. Not a whole lot is known about this beautiful young woman from the 9th century, but here is what tradition tells us: When Olivia was thirteen years old, Muslims kidnapped her from her noble Sicilian family and took her to Tunis in Africa, where they made her a slave. But her abductors were so impressed by her virtue and beauty that they allowed her to live in a cave by herself. Local sick people came to her for miracle cures, which converted many Muslims to Christianity. Because of these successful conversions, Olivia was imprisoned and tortured. She was sentenced to be burned to death, but the flames would not touch her! So the Muslims beheaded her, finally killing her.

Saint Olivia is the patron saint of music, and some say it is because she liked to sing and write songs. Her feast day is June 10.

Did you know that in Latin, the name Olivia means "an olive tree or branch"? The name Olivia is a symbol of peace, fruitfulness, dignity, and beauty. Sounds just like Saint Olivia to me.

Saint Olivia, pray for us!



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