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Sforza, Seraphina (1434–1478)

Sforza, Seraphina (1434–1478)

Italian Catholic saint. Born in Urbino, Italy, in 1434; died in 1478; daughter of Guido Sforza, count of Montefeltro, and Catherine Colonna (d. around 1440); married Allesandro Sforza (1409–1473), lord of Pesaro and Cottignola, in 1448; entered Franciscan order around 1457.

Seraphina Sforza was born into an aristocratic Italian family in 1434. Her father Guido Sforza was a count, and her mother Catherine Colonna was the niece of Pope Martin V. Orphaned at an early age, Seraphina was raised in Rome at the Colonna Palace.

The widower Allesandro Sforza, duke of Pesaro, treated Seraphina with respect at the time of their marriage in 1448. He even left her in charge of his realm when he was away at war in 1456, and Seraphina apparently did an excellent job of managing her husband's business. Nonetheless, after he started an affair with Pacifica , a doctor's wife, he did everything in his power to make Seraphina's life miserable. He humiliated her in public, beat her, tried to strangle her, and on several occasions attempted to poison her. Because of one such attempt, she was left half-paralyzed for the rest of her life.

Thereafter, Allesandro had Seraphina kept captive in the convent of the Poor Clares in Pesaro, and guards were positioned to keep anyone from coming to her aid. He even brought a judge with him to stand outside her cell while he tried to make her admit to adultery, but Seraphina refused to speak. A year and a half later, she chose to take vows in the order of St. Francis. She eventually was made abbess and lived a praiseworthy life counseling her sisters in the religious community until her death in 1478.

Ruth Savitz , freelance writer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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