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As a child, Rusticula was raised in a convent of Arles, France. Sometimes the little girl would take a nap as one of the nuns propped her on her knee. The nun would gently recite a psalm in the child’s ear. As Rusticula awoke and heard the words, she absorbed them, so that by her teenage years she knew the Psalms by heart. Remaining at the convent to become a nun, Rusticula excelled in meekness, obedience, and prudence. When only about eighteen, she was chosen to become her convent’s abbess. As the other nuns slept, she spent whole nights in church tearfully offering prayers for the religious entrusted to her care and for all the lay faithful beyond the convent walls. One night, upon falling asleep, Rusticula experienced a vision of the virgin martyr Saint Lucy, clothed in a gold-threaded dress. Lucy addressed Rusticula as “Marcia,” the nickname her family had used for her when she was a child: “Marcia, know that when you will have departed from this body, you shall have a portion with me, actually with the rest of the virgin disciples of Christ, who have fought for the name of the Lord.”


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