St. Melania – December 31st
This Saint was the daughter of one of the richest men of Rome. She and her family were Christians, but her father was not willing to let Melania follow her vocation to become a religious. He engaged her to Pinian, the son of the ruler of Rome, and when she was only fourteen, they were married. Melania told her young husband that she would be happy if they could give themselves completely to Jesus. Pinian, however, was like Melania’s father-a good man but very much concerned about pleasing important people and being admired.
After a couple of years, Melania became gravely ill, and her husband promised God that if He would spare her life, he would let her live in the holy way she desired. She got better, but her father made her keep on dressing and behaving like the other great ladies of Rome. Then, he too, fell ill, and as he lay dying, he asked her forgiveness. “Fearing the ridicule of evil tongues,” he said, “I have made you sad by opposing your heavenly vocation.”
Melania’s mother and husband joined her in giving up worldly pleasures. They moved to a country village and made it a center of charity to travelers, poor people, slaves, and even whole families. St. Melania had huge estates all over the empire, left her by her father. Now she sold them and gave the money to churches, monasteries, captives, sick people, pilgrims and everyone who needed help. In two years, she set eight thousand slaves free.
Melania’s husband, too, became so holy and good that wherever they visited people recognized the virtues of this blessed couple. After living in Africa and practicing great mortifications, St. Melania went with her dear ones to the Holy Land. There her beloved husband and mother died. The Saint built a cell for herself near their graves and many disciples came to share her holy life. It was there, in the land of Jesus, that she died peacefully, surrounded by her religious, and saying over and over: “As the Lord willed, so it is done.”
We should obey our parents in all things. But should God call us to be His, and should our parents oppose it, first we must obey God.