Great Dominicans: Bl. Jane of Orvieto

Great Dominicans: Bl. Jane of Orvieto

Blessed Jane of Orvieto was born in Italy in 1264. Jane was a lay Dominican, visionary and prophet, known for her life of deep prayer.


Left an orphan at the age of five, it is said that she pointed to a picture of a guardian angel and said “behold him who will hold the place of father and mother to me”. Later on, she entered the third Order of Saint Dominic; she worked as a seamstress and embroiderer. 

Her long devotions occupied great part of her day. Every Good Friday but one during the last nine years of her life, she was favoured with an extraordinary rapture, during which her body lay stiff and motionless in the attitude of the crucifix. One Christmas night, as she was grieving that sickness prevented her from assisting at Midnight Mass and receiving the Divine Infant in Holy Communion, her little chamber was miraculously flooded with light, in the midst of which appeared a white Host, which descended into her breast. On another occasion, when she was again confined to her bed by illness, our Blessed Lady appeared to her, bearing the Divine Infant in her arms. “Jane, said the Holy Child, you cannot today receive me in Holy Communion, but I am ever yours by grace”. 

Blessed Jane strove to conceal from everyone the Divine favours that were lavished upon her; she sincerely regarded herself as the worst of sinners, and nothing caused her so much pain as to see herself treated with respect and veneration. On the other hand, she looked upon those who ill-treated her as her benefactors. One day, when a woman had grossly insulted her, she said, ” I am sorry that I am so weak as to be unable to do a severe penance for this poor woman’s sins; at any rate, I shall have the pleasure of saying two hundred Paters and Aves for her.” Hence it became proverbial in Orvieto, that, in order to obtain an abundant share in Sister Jane’s prayers, one must do her some injury ! 

She was endowed with the gift of prophecy, and amongst other things predicted some of the miracles she was to work after her death. She had to endure cruel persecution from the devils who were sometimes suffered to beat and otherwise ill-treat her; but she bore all with the utmost courage and patience. She departed on July 23rd 1306 and was beatified by Benedict XIV in 1754. 

Blessed Jane of Orvieto is definitely a model of patience and endurance and she experienced in a very strong way the identification with Jesus Christ, that we are all called to experience by our baptism. Let us pray that, by her intercession, we be granted by the same grace and participate in the life of Jesus Christ. 

(from the Short lives of Dominican Saints)