July Feast Days

Saint Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus

The daughter of Antonio Napoleone Visintainer and Anna Pianezzer, she was born to a poor but pious family. In September 1875 her family, along with 100 other folks, about a fifth of her home town, emigrated from Italy to the state of Saint Catherine in Brazil to seek a better life. There the Italian emigres founded the village of Vigolo (modern Nova Trento). She received First Communion about age twelve. In her early teens, Amabile began teaching children catechism, visited the sick, and cleaned the church.

On 12 July 1890 Amabile and her friend Virginia Rosa Nicolodi were caring for a woman suffering from cancer. From them and their work began the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, approved by José de Camargo Barros, bishop of Curitiba. They and Teresa Anna Maule took their religious vows in December 1890; Amabile took the name Sister Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. Their congregation grew quickly, and in 1903 Mother Pauline was elected Superior General for life. Even with her new responsibilities, she left Nova Trento in late 1903 for Saõ Paulo to work with orphans, the children of slaves, and aged slaves who had been left to die because they could no longer work.

In 1909 she was relieved of her duties as Superior General by Duarte Leopoldo e Silva, Archbishop of Saõ Paulo following a series of disputes within the congregation. She was sent to work with the sick and aged at the Hospice of Saint Vincent de Paul at Bragança Paulista. She spent her spare time in prayer in support of the Congregation. In 1918 she was recalled to the Congregation‘s motherhouse of Ipiranga. She lived there for over 20 years, caring for sick sisters, praying, and living away from the world. In 1938 her health began a long, slow decline as she fought a losing battle with diabetes.

The Congregation continues its work today in Argentina, Chile, Nicaragua, Chad, Zambia, Mozambique and Italy. They combine interior spirituality with service to those in need, drawing strength from devotion to the Eucharist, the Immaculate Virgin, and Saint Joseph. She is the first Brazilian citizen to be canonized.

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