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Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories

Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko, Russia

[Her life, from an ancient MS., in the Convent of S. Clara, at Florence, was published by Silvanus Razzi, and reprinted in the Acta Sanctorum.]

The Blessed Oringa was born at Sancta Croce, on the Arno, in the year 1237, of poor parents, who died whilst she was young. She kept the cattle on the farm occupied by her two brothers. The cows were taken by her into the woods to pasture, and they became so docile that they obeyed her voice in all things. When she grew to a marriageable age, her brothers determined that she should become the wife of a small farmer in the parish; but she ran away, and escaping across the river, made her way to Lucca.

The way was long, and night falling, the young girl lost the road, and wandered in a forest. At the same time her fancy conjured up horrible forms to frighten her. She would had died of terror, but for the companionship of a little hare which played about her skirts, as tamely as if it had been a favourite kitten, and rested on her lap all night, when she cast herself down in weariness. Next morning, the hare gamboled before her, and led her into the road, after which it ran away.

(To enlarge the picture of St. Oringa and Hares, click on the picture or link)

At Lucca she entered the service of a pious family. As she was annoyed on account of her beauty, she stained her skin with walnut juice. Having gone on a pilgrimage to Mount Gargano, on which the archangel Michael had once appeared, for she held the angels in great reverence; on her return, some men with whom she fell in on the road, towards dusk, misled her with evil purpose; but S. Michael himself flashing out of the darkness at her side, protected her, and led her in the right road.

Later in life she visited Rome, and took service in the house of a pious widow, named Margaret, who treated her as a daughter rather than as a domestic. At Rome she was called Christiana, instead of her baptismal name of Oringa. She occasionally fell into ecstasies as she prayed, and saw into futurity.

When aged seventy she was struck with paralysis, in which she lay three years. As she died, her face is said have shone with a celestial light.

~S Baring-Gould, Lives of the Saints, January, London, Hodges 1872 p146-147

Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow.  He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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