Helen Valentini was born in 1396 in north eastern Italy. She was married at the age of eighteen and had six children. The sudden death in 1441 of her husband Antonio affected her greatly. She is reputed to have cut off her hair and placed it, with her jewellery, in his coffin. After listening to a sermon given by a famous preacher at the Augustinian church in the city of Udine Helen decided to become a Tertiary of the Augustinian Order. Her time was devoted to prayer, penance and works of charity.

She suffered much from ill health, depression and spiritual trials. There were times when she was even tempted to end her own life. Prayer and trust in God’s will for her kept her going. Grave illness confined her to bed for the last three years of her life. Even then she continued her severe personal mortifications.

Helen died on the 23rd April 1458 at the age of sixty two. She was buried in the Augustinian church of St Lucy but since the suppression of Religious houses in the 19th century her remains now rest in the cathedral of Udine.