Christina the Astonishing (c. 1150–c. 1224)

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Christina the Astonishing (c. 1150–c. 1224)

French saint. Born around 1150 into a peasant family in Brusthem, in Liége, France; died around 1224.

Born into a peasant family in Brusthem, France, Christina the Astonishing was orphaned at age 15. Her life comes down from two eminent scholars of the time: Thomas de Cantimpré (d. 1270), professor of theology at Louvain, and Cardinal Jacques de Vitry (d. 1244). Writes Vitry who knew her personally:

In her the divine operations were truly marvellous. She had been dead a long time and had obtained the grace of resuming her flesh in order to suffer her purgatory here below. Thus for many years she underwent extraordinary trials, sometimes rolling in the fire, sometimes remaining in icy water in the middle of winter, sometimes going as though despite herself into the tombs of the dead. In the end she was favoured with sublime graces and enjoyed profound peace. Often, her spirit in ecstasy, she led the souls of the dead to purgatory; sometimes she even led them out of purgatory to paradise.

Christina spent her last days in the convent of St. Catherine at Saint Trond. Her feast day is celebrated on July 24.