Lifelong Catechesis

Forming Catholic identity across generations
May 22, 2024


The twofold character of Advent calls us to prepare for the remembering of the Word made Flesh at Christmas, and directs us to wait with alertness for Jesus’ second coming.

Saint of the Week

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Emily, Virgin, c. 550

St. Emily, known in her time as Emiliana, came from a family which included two popes and several saints. Pope St. Felix II was her grandfather (his wife died before he became a priest). His daughter, St. Silvia, was the mother of Emily and her older sister, St. Tharsilla, and the grandmother of Pope St. Gregory the Great through her son, Gordianus, a Roman senator.

Emily, together with her sister, Tharsilla, was able to live a monastic life without ever leaving the house of her brother. Encouraging each other by prayer and discussion, the two were joined for a time by a third sister, Gordiana. This sister found the austere life too rigid and left to marry her guardian. But Emily and Tharsilla found great peace and love in their lives and kept their self-imposed vows throughout their lives.

While little is known of their day-to-day lives beyond their holiness, the manner of their deaths is remarkable. Tharsilla experienced a vision of their grandfather, Pope St. Felix II, who told her of a place in heaven prepared for her and invited her to come to him. Soon after, she became ill and passed away on Christmas Eve.

Within a few days, Tharsilla appeared to Emily and called her to celebrate Epiphany in heaven. Emily then suffered a short, sudden illness and joined her sister in heaven on January 5, the eve of Epiphany.

Emily is the patron saint of single, laywomen. Emily, together with her sister, is honored in their country, Italy, on December 24.

Emily's message today: Few of us can follow the example of Emily and her older sister. In our world today, a life of constant prayer and reflection is difficult amid all of the distractions that we live with. Perhaps, like Gordiana, we can spend some time on retreat where we can thank God for all of his gifts to us and take a little time each day to reflect on what God is calling to do.

  • Do you try to take time for reflection each day? Have you considered joining your parish members in a retreat?