Angela Catherine Borgia was born in Velletri on 14 June 1694 in a large family that had vast properties in that territory. The father was an important collector of works of art and ancient objects.
Every day in the family the Liturgy of the Virgin was recited and in the evening the Rosary, Angela Catherine loved to prepare in the house of the altars around which, at times, the family gathered in prayer. Their parish was the Cathedral of St. Clement.
Her elder brother Camillo continued to live in the palace of Velletri, while the other brothers and sisters of hers dedicated their lives to the Lord.
Among them we can find Alessandro, who a man of vast culture and became an important prelate. In 1716 he was appointed bishop of Nocera Umbra and in 1724 archbishop of Fermo.
In 1729 her brother Fabrizio was appointed bishop of Ferentino.
Another brother of hers was abbot, another Knight of Malta, one did his religious profession in the Order of the Discalced Carmelites.
A sister of hers was a companion of Angela Catherine among the Augustinians of Saint Lucy "in Selci".
The illustrious cardinal Stefano Borgia (1731-1804) was a nephew of theirs.
Angeluccia, as they called her in the family, was concerned about the needs of the service personnel. The study and the housework were alternated with prayers and spiritual songs, at times it was absent and aroused a certain curiosity. Once, a servant saw her while she was praying in an isolated corner of the house.
Despite her young age, her thoughts were taken into consideration in her family.
Her desire to consecrate herself to the Lord matured soon in her soul. One day she spoke about it in her family where, however, there was no shortage of vocations, but she did not find the consent of the mother immediately. The providence sent there a the blessed Antonio Baldinucci to help her. He had already been in Velletri for some popular missions.
The Jesuit priest convinced "Donna Cecilia", her mother, and then they chose to direct her towards the ancient Roman monastery of "S. Lucia in Selci", which was already known in her family.
The Servant of God was about twenty years old. As she arrived in Rome, she expressed only her desire to go and pray the Virgin Mary, named "Salus Populi Romani" (Salvation of the Roman People), in the church of "Santa Maria Maggiore". She made her vestition ceremony on February 24, 1718.
The prayer was the main commitment for all the nuns in the monastery. However, Angela Catherine always felt a need to pray for a longer time and thus added hours of personal prayer to those foreseen by community life. If she did not have to carry out particular work she used to remain in the choir or in a small room called "cantorino" to follow the holy masses, which were ordinarily celebrated in the church. Before silence fell throughout the monastery, the Servant of God used to pray two more hours. She loved nocturnal prayer: if possible until one o'clock in the morning, especially in summer.
When the nun who occupied the room above the choir died, Sister Borgia asked and obtained to live in that cell, even though it had blackened and battered walls. In fact, there was a little window communicating with the choir through which she could listen the community prayers when she was ill.
Angela Catherine was appointed to accomplish various tasks, sometimes simultaneously. For about fifteen years it was a sacristan and a dispensary in the refectory.
She used to remind that she all the tasks have equal dignity if they are fulfilled according to obedience: the work in the kitchen and important tasks. It was also "pharmacist", meaning that she had to provide the medicines for the sisters and to take care of the ill ones.
She was assigned to the porter's lodge and was able to help some of the poor's needs of the village. He had the idea of setting up special days in which to give alms. For a certain period she sold flowers to get the necessary money. She was a teacher of the novices and taught them with great charity. It was called "the hermit" or "the pilgrim". She loved the solitude in order to unite herself to God.
When a nun did something contrary to the Rule, she preferred to appear resentful, rather than using words of reproach. She did not like doing acts that distinguished her. He was an austere character, but she rejoiced to see happiness in the community.
Sometimes she experienced weaknesses and temptations, but she practiced acts of faith to counter them.
She cared about the conversion of non-believers, that she used to call "the blind poor". She claimed that faith was a real good fortune and that, without merit, Catholics had been created as such.
Among her favorite readings there were the books of st. John of the Cross and many hagiographies.
She had a particular devotion to the Holy Father Augustine. She was a deeply mystical soul, but her enthusiasm towards God was not always supported by her health. Over the years she regretted youthful fervor.
She trusted in the Lord's help and made acts of hope. She could comfort the sisters who were facing the same weaknesses. She presented to them the mercy of God and her admonition was effective.
Sister Angela Catherine was a deeply Eucharistic soul. In the monastery the holy Communion was ordinarily celebrated on Sundays, Wednesdays, Fridays and on the feasts.
On the other days the Servant of God made spiritual communion, and she used to explain to her sisters how to do it. She made "extraordinary" Communions when some other nun asked her, but never alone in order not to seem "singular".
She used to prepare for a long time for the Holy Communion. Usually, she did not receive it at the first Mass of the day, but a few hours later.
She used to talk about the luck of the shepherds and Three Wise Men had who could adore the Child Jesus. However she concluded that they saw the Child for a few minutes, while Christians usually do not understand the good fortune of being able to adore the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as long as they desire.
She considered that this was a weakness of faith. In these speeches she used to look inflamed. Once the nuns began talking about the Shroud of Turin and they requested some fragments of it. Sister Angela Catherine said that we did not have enough knowledge that also the corporals and purifiers used in the celebrations wrapped the Body of the Lord.
Sister Angela Catherine loved Our Lady and she used to prepare for her feasts with novenas, the eve prayers and fast. She spoke with tenderness of the Patronage of the Virgin and on some occasions she revealed to the confessor that she had been gratified by some of her "visions" in which she was exhorted to practice the Christian virtues. The confessor was sure that those apparitions were not fictions, but warned her and told her not to rely on such events. He used to recommend her to feel unworthy of that.
Sister Angela Catherine's charity towards her neighbor was first of all spiritual, that is her "commitment" to pray for souls. First of all, they benefited from the sisters who usually gave spiritual advice. She was not afraid of humiliating herself to get into confidence with some "troubled" nun, so that this opened her heart. However, her help in the community was also in material duties. In particular, she worked for "personal and sensitive" needs concerning the ill ones. If someone told her that that was not her job, she used to answer with a smile.
From the day she entered the monastery Angela Catherine did not want anything for herself, everything delivered to the superior. She immediately gave the impression of desiring total detachment from the things of the world. One day she asked for the replacement of the cassock, but she was told to wait. She patched it carefully and did not ask for anything for three years. Her room also stood out in poverty. Humility made her always meek. She said that she did not aspire to authority to have the consolation of being able to obey, since "in obedience she found all her peace".
The nuns knew that Sister Angela Catherine used instruments of penitence. At the time it was a normal practice, but it proves the will of the Servant of God to humiliate herself and let the Lord God grow in her soul.
Angela Catherine often used to do such penitences in the uninhabited rooms of the monastery. Daily she did the pious exercise of the Via Crucis, slowly and scrupulously. She asked for the pictures of the stations in her room in order to pray in front of them when she was ill.
She had obtained the book of prayer called "Orologio della Passione" (The watch of the Passion). She loved to climb every day the "Scala Santa" (Holy Staircase) that was in the monastery.
Every year Sister Angela Catherine want to carry in procession the heavy statue called "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the man", John 19,5) on the Sunday of Passion. It was exposed in in the choir until Good Friday.
This devotion let her share the sufferings of Christ more and more, until she saw Him before her one day.
He told her: "So far I have been crucified for you, now it's your turn to be on the cross for me". He got out of the Cross, took her heart and placed a cross in it. Then He put her heart back in her chest and said these words: "Until the flesh is healed around your heart, you will have no peace".
After this mystical experience, the Servant of God began to suffer from heart problems. This happened a year before her death. Then she had an even greater fervor, a deeper humility and a burning desire to suffer for God.
There were few people in the community who knew these facts. Sister Angela Catherine prayed both mentally and with body postures. Several times the nuns found her in a very remote room, on her knees, with open arms, motionless. Another time some novices found her in a damp and dark basement, on her knees, with her arms open as on the cross. The priest saw in Angela Catherine what St. John of the Cross writes in the Dark Night and in the spiritual Works that lead the soul to perfect union with God.
The Servant of God said that in this state "... found no company in anything of this world , and it seemed to her, that all the creatures were so far from her, as much as the earth is far from heaven". The confessor referred to the spiritual conduction of the Borgia, precisely the work of the Carmelite reformer, he found there described his sufferings of spirit, as "sensitive appetites" that remain "asleep and mortified", "the clouded intellect and even the dry will".
In her illness she always wanted her papier-mache statue of the "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the man", Jh 19,5) near her bed to keep constantly contemplating Him. She said that she had "received a vivid knowledge of the offenses, which are made to God by sinners. Thus she felt in herself such pain, which was expressed in that proposition: I would never have believed, that it was so much worth cognition, that one has of offenses made to God, greater than this I do not believe, can be given". Increased rheumatic pains, headaches, lung problems.
She spoke of the tests to be overcome by saying that she was constantly assisted by God. One evening, they bleeded her to alleviate her headache, but the following night she had "pains of gallstones". She faced also spiritual afflictions, the fear of not pleasing God in suffering.
It was proven by the thought of being unable to do good deeds. In her last infirmity she renewed her request to the Lord to experience the pains of his Passion. One day she confided to her confessor that Jesus had appeared to her crowned with thorns. During her last illness, from 6 to 9 pm every Friday, she lived the agony of Jesus on the cross again in herself.
In the harsh winter of 1743 her health conditions became worrisome. Pneumonia injured her body inexorably. She glanced at her statue "Ecce Homo". It was five o'clock in the morning on February 1st, 1743. Someone noticed that the last illness had lasted 33 days.
It was recalled that Sister Angela Catherine had complained about the excessive heat in her breast the day before. It was decided to ask for an autopsy. A singurar witness of that was the painter Giovanni Sorbi, who had just painted the portrait of Angela Catherine a few hours after her death. They found "little nerves" similar to nails in her heart. They were probably the cause of her pains, as they caused an irregular flow of blood.
When the news of her death spread, many people requested some objects of hers. Her room became a destination for devotees. It can be said that a certain reputation for holiness had surrounded Sister Angela Catherine while she was still alive, even though she was making fun of it.
People began to obtain some graces through her intercession. In fact, even today in the so-called "cave of the venerable" are kept a couple of crutches that a disabled friar left there for a miracle that he had received.
Someone reminded that St. Philip Neri visited the monastery in the 16th century and he said that one day, among those walls, a great saint would have lived.
A few months after her death the ordinary process of beatification was taught (years 1744-1748), followed by the canonical process. Interesting news was also noted in the Chronicles of the city of Fermo, whose author was her brother Alessandro. The process was stopped 1763, probably because of the events that shook the Papal State a few years later.