I have been blessed to visit San Gimignano in Tuscany, more than once, but had not heard much about St. Fina (Seraphina), this gentle Italian saint, until my most recent visit to this village. She lived her very short life in the 13th century, and is beloved and greatly venerated to this day, in this special town outside of Siena.
Fina suffered greatly at an early age. Serious illness left her paralyzed and she spent several years lying on a board made of a wooden pallet rather than a bed. During her sickness she lost her parents, and afterward only one neighbor girl would care for her and bring her food. Church tradition has it that the great St. Gregory appeared to her and predicted the time of her death.
Despite all of the suffering, instead of complaining Fina thanked God for her numerous trials. She died on March 12th at the age of 15, and at the time of her death the church bells spontaneously began to ring. When her body was moved from her pallet beautiful, fragrant white violets grew where she had lain. Numerous miracles were attributed to her intercession curing townspeople who had crippled hands or legs and is the reason she is known as a patron of handicapped (or physically challenged) people.
St. Fina’s relics reside in the Early Renaissance Chapel of St. Fina in the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Gimignano, Tuscany. There you will find two beautiful frescoes of scenes of her life painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in 1478. This minor basilica also holds a Museum of Sacred Art.