We think Blessed Sybillina is among the women at the bottom of this famous rendition of Dominican saints and blesseds by Fra Angelico!
Blessed Sybillina (1287-1367) was orphaned at a young age and went out to work as a servant, although she had to give this up when she became blind. She became a Dominican tertiary. Her great devotion to St. Dominic encouraged her to pray to him for a miraculous cure for her blindness. St. Dominic came and told her, \”Here, you must suffer darkness so that you may one day behold eternal light.\” After this experience, she decided to become a recluse in a small cell attached to the Dominican church in Pavia, Italy. It is somewhat unusual for a Dominican to become a recluse–Dominicans are famously community minded, following the example of their founder, St. Dominic–but after all, the Order of St. Dominic is a \”broad and joyous garden\”, as St. Catherine of Siena writes, and there is a place for everyone! She had a small window in her cell that was her only contact with the outside world–but through this tiny opening she encountered people of all walks and classes of life, begging for her assistance. She prayed for them all and provided them with wise counsel. She had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and followed all the Masses and Offices in the Church for the 67 years she lived as a recluse.
Blessed Sybillina was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1854. We remember her today especially because we have a sister in our community named for her! Happy feast day, Sr. Mary Sybillina!