Camilla Varano was the daughter of a powerful Italian prince and his mistress. Raised by the father and his lawful wife, she was groomed for a life in this highest circles of society. For many years she embraced this world of “music, dancing, dress, and other worldly amusements.” She could “not bear” the sight of monks or nuns. Then one day she heard a sermon that hit her like a thunderbolt. In response to prayer she received the gift of “three lilies”: hatred of the world, a sense of unworthiness, and a willingness to suffer. Gradually she found herself attracted to religious life.
Her father did everything he could to thwart her vocation – even to the point of locking her up. But after two years, when she was twenty-three, he relented and allowed her to enter the Poor Clares, where she took the name Baptista. She likened the experience to crossing the Red Sea to escape from slavery under Pharoah.
In the newfound freedom of the cloister, Baptista began to experience vivid mystical visions, including colloquies with St. Clare. In another case, two winged angels held her aloft to contemplate the bleeding feet of Christ on the cross. She composed several books describing the inner suffering of Christ, as well as offering spiritual instructions.
Baptista died on May 31, 1524, and was canonized in 2010.