Oil Dedicated to St Fabiola
The St Fabiola is dedicated to the nurse (physician) and Roman matron of rank. She devoted herself to the practice of Christian asceticism and charitable work.
Fabiola had been married to a man who led so vicious a life that to live with him was impossible. She obtained a divorce from him according to Roman law. Contrary to the Church, she entered upon a second union before the death of her first husband.
After the death of her second consort, she decided to enter upon a life of renunciation and labour for others. On the day before Easter, she appeared before the gates of the Lateran basilica, dressed in penitential garb, She did public penance for her sin. This made a great impression upon the Christian population of Rome. The Pope received her formally again into full communion with the Church.
Conversion to Christianity
Fabiola now renounced all that the world had to offer her. She devoted her immense wealth to the needs of the poor and the sick. She erected a fine hospital at Rome. Also, she waited on the inmates herself. She also treated citizens rejected from society due to their “loathsome diseases”. Besides this she gave large sums to the churches and religious communities at Rome and other places in Italy. All her interests were centered on the needs of the Church. She saw these needs as the care of the poor and suffering.
In 395 she went to Bethlehem. There she lived in the hospice of the convent directed by St Paula. She applied herself, under the direction of St. Jerome, with the greatest zeal to the study and contemplation of the Scriptures and to ascetic exercises. She returned to Rome after the Huns invaded the eastern empire. A quarrel between Jerome and John II contributed to her leaving.
She remained, however, in correspondence with St. Jerome. At her request he wrote a treatise on the priesthood of Aaron and the priestly dress. At Rome, Fabiola united with a former senator in carrying out a great charitable undertaking. They erected a large hospice for pilgrims coming to Rome. Fabiola also continued her usual personal labours in aid of the poor and sick until her death on 27 December of 399 or 400. Fabiola’s practice of medicine was pragmatic in application. Her legacy illustrates the involvement of early Christian women in the field of medicine.
Her funeral was a wonderful manifestation of the gratitude and veneration with which she was regarded by the Roman populace. St Jerome wrote a eulogistic memoir of Fabiola in a letter to her relative Oceanus.