Helen Valentini was born in Udine, northern Italy, about the year 1396. She married Antonio Cavalcanti around 1414 and bore him six children. When Antonio died in 1441 of illness contracted during a diplomatic mission to Venice, Helen became an Augustinian Tertiary. She was greatly influenced by the Augustinian, Angelo of San Severino, to devote her life thereafter to the care of the needy, in works of mercy, and in a life of penance. Her commitment to prayer was nourished by a great love for the Gospel, devotion to the Passion of our Lord and love for the Eucharist. Above all, she wished to live in imitation of Jesus Christ through a life of sacrifice and service to her neighbor. Helen had a great love for the Order and was a constant visitor to the Augustinian Church of Saint Lucy, as well as one of its most generous benefactors. During the last three years of her life she was confined to bed due to infirmity which she accepted with great patience and resignation. She died on April 23, 1458 and was buried in the Church of Saint Lucy. Since 1845 her remains have been preserved in the Cathedral of Udine. Blessed Pius IX confirmed her cult in 1848.
Blessed Helen is one of the several lay women whose memory is celebrated by the Order. She is, thus, a reminder that Augustinian spirituality is not the exclusive possession of religious only. Our Order has a long and rich tradition of lay men and women walking the same path of Augustinian inspired values professed by friars, nuns and sisters. We are all called to holiness, and the Augustinian vocation is one proven way of reaching it regardless of one’s state of life.