November Feast Days

St.Rose Philippine Duchesne

ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE Was born August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, France. She was baptized in the Church of St. Louis and received the name of Philip, the apostle, and Rose of Lima, first saint of the new continent. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d’en Haut, then, drawn to the contemplative life, she became a novice there when she was 18 years old.

At the time of the Revolution in France, the community was dispersed and Philippine returned to her family home, spending her time nursing prisoners and helping others who suffered. After the Concordat of 1801, she tried with some companions to reconstruct the monastery of Ste. Marie but without success.

In 1804, Philippine learned of a new congregation, the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and offered herself and the monastery to the Foundress, Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat. Mother Barat visited Ste. Marie in 1804 and received Philippine and several companions as novices in the Society.

Even as Philippine’s desire deepened for the contemplative life, so too her call to the missions became more urgent – a call she had heard since her youth. In a letter she wrote to Mother Barat, she confided a spiritual experience she had had during a night of adoration before the Eucharist on Holy Thursday: “I spent the entire night in the new World … carrying the Blessed Sacrament to all parts of the land … I had all my sacrifices to offer: a mother, sisters, family, my mountain! When you say to me ‘now I send you’, I will respond quickly ‘I go”‘. She waited, however, another 12 years.

In 1818 Philippine’s dream was realized. She was sent to respond to the bishop of the Louisiana territory, who was looking for a congregation of educators to help him evangelize the Indian and French children of his diocese. At St. Charles, near St. Louis, Missouri, she founded the first house of the Society outside France. It was in a log cabin – and with it came all the austerities of frontier life: extreme cold, hard work, lack of funds. She also had difficulty learning English. Communication at best was slow; news often did not arrive from her beloved France. She struggled to remain closely united with the Society in France.

Philippine and four other Religious of the Sacred Heart forged ahead. In 1818 she opened the first free school west of the Mississippi. By 1828 she had founded six houses. These schools were for the young women of Missouri and Louisiana. She loved and served them well, but always in her heart she yearned to serve the American Indians. When she was 72 and no longer superior, a school for the Potawatomi was opened at Sugar Creek, Kansas. Though many thought Philippine was too sick to go, the Jesuit head of the mission insisted: “She must come; she may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work”.

She was with the Potawatomi but a year; however, her pioneer courage did not weaken, and her long hours of contemplation impelled the Indians to name her, Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,
“Woman-Who-Prays-Always”. But Philippine’s health could not sustain the regime of village life. In July 1842, she returned to St. Charles, although her heart never lost its desire for the missions: “I feel the same longing for the Rocky Mountain missions and any others like them, that I experienced in France when I first begged to come to America…”.

Philippine died at St. Charles, Missouri, November 18, 1852 at the age of 83.

~Source:Vatican.va

November Feast Days

St.Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, also known as St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, was born in Hungary on July 7, 1207 to the Hungarian King Andrew II and Gertrude of Merania.

As soon as her life began, she had responsibilities from being a royal pressed upon her. While Elizabeth was very young, her father arranged for her to be married to Ludwig IV of Thuringia, a German nobleman. Because of this plan, Elizabeth was sent away at the age of four for education at the court of the Landgrave of Thuringia.

Elizabeth’s mother, Gertrude, was murdered in 1213, when Elizabeth was just six-years-old. According to history, the murder was carried out by Hungarian noblemen due to the conflict between Germans and the Hungarian nobles. From this point on, Elizabeth’s perspective on life and death dramatically changed and she sought peace with prayer.

Happiness was returned to her young life in 1221 when she was formally married to Ludwig, whom she deeply loved. Together the couple had three beautiful children, two of whom became members of nobility and the third entering the religious life, becoming abbess of a German convent.

Elizabeth continued to live a life full of prayer and a service to the poor. Ludwig, who was now one of the rulers of Thuringia, supported all of Elizabeth’s religious endeavors even though she was a part of the royal court. She began to lead an austerely simple life, practiced penance, and devoted herself to works of charity. She used her royal position to advance her mission for charity.

In 1223, Franciscan friars arrived in Thuringia and taught 16-year-old Elizabeth all about Francis of Assisi’s ideals. She then forth decided to live her life mirroring his.

She wore simple clothing and set aside time every day to take bread to hundreds of poor people in her land. Ludwig and Elizabeth were politically powerful and lived with a remarkable generosity toward the poor.

In 1226, when disease and floods struck Thuringia, Elizabeth took to caring for the victims. It is said she even gave away the royal’s clothing and goods to the afflicted people. Elizabeth had a hospital built and provided for almost a thousand poor people daily.

Elizabeth’s life was full of love and faith. However, tragedy struck when Ludwig passed away from illness in 1227. It is said upon hearing the news, she said, “He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today.” His remains were entombed at the Abbey of Reinhardsbrunn.

Elizabeth vowed to never remarry and to live a life similar to a nun, despite pressure from relatives.

Her vows included celibacy and an agreement of complete obedience to her confessor and spiritual director, Master Conrad of Marburg. His treatment of Elizabeth was very strict and often harsh. He held her to a standard that many saw as impossible to meet. He provided physical beatings and sent away her children. However, she continued to keep her vow, even offering to cut off her own nose, so she woud be too ugly for any man to want.

In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Third Order of St. Francis. Elizabeth, having received her dowry, founded a hospital in honor of St. Francis, where she personally attended to the ill. She ministered to the sick and provided support to the poor.

Elizabeth’s life was consumed deeply by her devotion to God and her charitable labor. She passed away at the age of 24, on November 17, 1231 in Marburg, Hesse.

One of her greatest known miracles occurred when she was still alive, the miracle of roses. It is said that during one of her many trips delivering bread to the poor in secret, Ludwig met with her and asked her questions to erase everyone’s suspicions that she was stealing treasures from the castle. He asked her to reveal the contents under her cloak, and as she did a vision of white and red roses was seen. To Ludwig, this meant God’s protection was evident. In other versions, it was her brother-in-law who found her. Elizabeth’s story is one of the first of many that associates Christian saints with roses.

Another living miracle involved a leper lying the bed she shared with her husband. Her mother-in-law discovered Elizabeth had placed a leper in the bed, and feeling enraged, she informed Ludwig. Annoyed with the situation, Ludwig removed the bedclothes and instantly the “Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed.”

After her death, miraculous healings began to occur at her graveside near her hospital. Examinations were held for those who had been healed from 1232 to 1235. The investigations, along with testimony from Elizabeth’s handmaidens and companions and the immense popularity surrounding her, provided enough reason for her canonization.

Pope Gregory IX canonized her on May 27, 1235.

St. Elizabeth’s feast day is celebrated on November 17 and she is the patron saint of bakers; beggars; brides; charities; death of children; homeless people; hospitals; Sisters of Mercy; widows.

Elizabeth’s body was laid in a gold shrine in the Elisabeth Church in Marburg. Although the shrine can still be seen today, her body is no longer there. One of her own descendents scattered her remains at the time of the Reformation.

St. Elizabeth is often depicted with a basket of bread to show her devotion for the poor and hungry. She is also painted in honor of the “Miracle of Roses” and “Crucifix in the Bed.”

St. Elizabeth has been praised by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a “model for those in authority.”

November Feast Days

St.Agnes of Assisi

Saint Agnes of Assisi was born 1197 at Assisi, Italy. She was a daughter of Count Favorino Scifi and Blessed Hortulana, ant the younger sister of Saint Clare of Assisi, the Abbess of the Poor Ladies. Her saintly mother, Blessed Hortulana, belonged to the noble family of the Fiumi, and her cousin Rufino was one of the celebrated “Three Companions” of St. Francis. Agnes was a beautiful girl. As a little girl she was known by members of her household to be a sensitive child, gentle, prayerful and kind. Clare heard Saint Francis of Assisi preaching in the streets of Assisi about his new mendicant order and was moved by his words. When she was about 13 years old, she refused marriage, stating that she could have no spouse but Jesus Christ.

On March 18, 1212, her eldest sister Clare, inspired by the example of Francis, left her father’s home to become a follower of the saint. Sixteen days after her sister Clare renounced her inheritance and family and founded the Poor Clares, the Franciscan cloistered Order, Agnes joined her at the Benedictine cloister of St. Angelo in Panso, where they received their initial training. The family tried to bring Agnes back by force, dragging her from the monastery, but her body became so heavy that several knights could not budge her. Her uncle Monaldo tried to beat her, but was temporarily paralyzed. The family then left Agnes and Clare in peace.

The name of Agnes was given to her by Saint Francis, when he cut off her hair with his own hand, gave her the habit of Poverty and he choose her to found and govern a community of Poor Clares at Monticelli, near Florence. In 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess at San Damiano, and defended her order from the attempts of prelates to impose a rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of St Benedict than Francis’ stricter vows.

Not the least important part of Clare’s work was the help and encouragement she gave to her spiritual father, Francis. It was to her that he turned when in doubt and it was she who urged him to continue his mission in preaching when he thought his vocation lay in becoming a hermit. After receiving the Stigmata, blind, ill and dying, Francis came for the last time to San Damiano. Clare built a little reed hut for him outside the cloister and tended him. It was there that he composed his magnificent “Canticle of the Creatures”, in the spring of 1225.

Agnes died on November 16, 1253 at the monastery of San Damiano of natural causes died at the age of 56 in 1253, shortly after her sister Clare. From this one can deduce that she was born in 1197. She was buried in the Santa Chiara church, Assisi, Italy. God, Who had favoured Agnes with many heavenly manifestations during life, glorified her tomb after death by numerous miracles.

On August 15, 1255, Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare as St Clare of Assisi. In 1263, Pope Urban IV officially changed the name of the Order of Poor Ladies to the Order of Saint Clare.

November Feast Days

St.Gertrude the Great

St.Gertrude: the only female Saint to be called “the Great”

Gertrude of Helfta was a highly intelligent woman. She was born on 6 January 1256 in the little town of Eisleben in Thuringia. At age 5, Gertrude went to the Cistercian monastery school of Helfta in Saxony, and since then has always been known as “Gertrude of Helfta”. She dedicated herself to study, and it was not long before she surpassed all her companions.

She also discovered Christ in the monastery, and the beauty of living for him and with him in the intimacy of love. But the divine Teacher remained in the background of her life for some time while she used all her faculties to improve her education, becoming proficient in literature, philosophy, song and the refined art of miniature painting.

After several years, Gertrude moved from the monastery school to the novitiate, taking the veil and becoming a nun. For her Jesus was “Someone”, but her studies were still her all. But she was not on the wrong track, for knowledge, when it goes hand in hand with humility, does not distance people from God. And he was waiting on her path.

In 1280, she was 24 years old and a half-hearted and distracted nun. Towards the end of the year, she went through an inner crisis that lasted several weeks. She felt lonely. lost and depressed. Her human plans disintegrated like shattered idols. This might have been the end of everything, but instead, it was a new beginning.

On 27 January 1281, Gertrude saw Jesus in person in the form of a marvellous adolescent who said to her, “I have come to comfort you and bring you salvation”. Remembering that day, she was to write: “Jesus, my Redeemer, you have lowered my indomitable head to your gentle yoke, preparing for me the medicine suited to my weakness”. From that moment, she was solely concerned with living in full union with Jesus.

In her writings, she established the date of her newfound unity with Christ as 23 June 1281: all her life she must have seen that day as the day of her new birth, the birth of the true Gertrude in the image of Christ.

She abandoned the study of profane subjects and dedicated herself entirely to the study of Scripture, writings of the Church Fathers and theological treatises. She found extraordinary delight in reading the letters of Augustine, Gregory the Great, Bernard and Hugh of Saint-Victor.

From a scholar specialized in the humanities, she became a “theologian” filled with God and his fragrance. Her life was truly filled with the Lord alone.

But Gertrude did not want to be the only one to enjoy this supreme “Pleasure”: so she began to write short treatises for the Sisters in the monastery and those who approached her in which she explained the most difficult passages of Scripture. true spiritual treasures written in a clear and lively style.

The monastery parlour was also often filled with people in search of her words, comfort and guidance. She exercised a great influence on souls.

Since her conversion, she had become the confidant of Jesus, who revealed to her the infinite Love of his divine Heart and charged her to spread it among human beings with love for the suffering and for sinners. Gertrude’s ecstasies with Jesus prompted her to write those ardent pages that would bring souls to him.

Humble, always happy and smiling, with a loving heart for all, she sparkled with trust, joy and peace, and led everyone to the Lord. To her soul, Jesus was like a spring day, vibrant with life and scented with flowers: Love par excellence, the one overwhelming Love. This is why she is known on the one hand as the “Teresa of Germany” and on the other, the “theologian of the Sacred Heart”.

One day, Jesus said to Gertrude: “It would be good to make known to men and women how they would benefit from remembering that I, the Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, always stand before God for the salvation of the human race, and that should they commit some sin through their weakness. I offer my unblemished Heart to the Father for them”.

She truly became one with Jesus and transmitted him to her brethren in the many works she has bequeathed to us. some of which have been lost.

In 1298 her health deteriorated but she transformed her sufferings into love, an offering with Jesus to the Father and a gift for humankind.

During her long and painful illness, she decided to recount the “adventure” of her conversion and to tell of the wonderful revelations with which Jesus had favoured her: “Until the age of 25, I was a blind and insane woman… but you, Jesus, deigned to grant me the priceless familiarity of your friendship by opening to me in every way that most noble casket of your divinity, which is your divine Heart, and offering me in great abundance all your treasures contained in it”.

On 17 November 1301, at age 45. she rejoined her Bridegroom for ever. Interestingly, she is the only woman among the saints to be called “the Great’: St. Gertrude the Great.

Carmelite saints, November Feast Days

Saint Raphael Kalinowski

Father Raphael of Saint Joseph Kalinowski, was born at Vilna, 1st September 1835, and at baptism received the name Joseph. Under the teaching of his father Andrew, at the Institute for Nobles at Vilna, he progressed so well that he received the maximum distinction in his studies. He then went for two years (1851-1852) to the school of Agriculture at Hory-Horky. During the years 1853-1857, he continued his studies at the Academy of Military Engineering at St Petersburg, obtaining his degree in Engineering, and the rank of Lieutenant. Immediately afterwards he was named Lecturer in Mathematics at the same Academy. In 1859, he took part in the designing of the Kursk-Kiev-Odessa railway.

In 1863 the Polish insurrection against their Russian oppressors broke out. He resigned from the Russian forces, and accepted the post of Minister of War for the region of Vilna, in the rebel army. On 24th March 1864, he was arrested and condemned to death, a penalty that was mitigated to 10 years hard labour in Siberia. With an admirable strength of spirit, patience, and love for his fellow exiles, he knew how to instill into them the spirit of prayer, serenity and hope, and to give material help together with a word of encouragement.

Repatriated in 1874, he accepted the post of tutor to the Venerable Servant of God, Augusto Czartoryski, living mostly in Paris. His influence on the young prince was such, that Augusto discovered his true vocation as priest and religious. He was received into the Salesians by their founder, Saint John Bosco, in 1887. On the other hand, Joseph Kalinowski entered the Discalced Carmelites at Graz in Austria, and received the religious name of Brother Raphael of Saint Joseph. He studied theology in Hungary, and was ordained Priest at Czerna near Krakow, 15th January 1882.

Afire with apostolic zeal, he did not spare himself in helping the faithful, and assisting his Carmelite brothers and sisters in the ascent of the mountain of perfection.

In the sacrament of Reconciliation, he lifted up many from the mire of sin. He did his utmost for the work of reunification of the Church, and bequeathed this mission to his Carmelite brothers and sisters. His superiors entrusted him with many important offices, which he carried out perfectly, right until the time of his death.

Overcome by fatigue and suffering, and held in great respect by all the people, he gave his soul to God, 15th November 1907, at Wadowice in the monastery founded by himself. He was buried in the monastery cemetery, at Czerna, near Krakow.

During his life and after death, he enjoyed a remarkable fame for sanctity, even on the part of the most noble and illustrious of people, such as the Cardinals Dunajewski, Puzyna, Kakowski and Gotti. The Ordinary Process for his eventual beatification, was set in motion in the Curia of Krakow during the years 1934-1938, and later taken to Rome where in 1943 was issued the Decree concerning his writings. His cause was introduced in 1952. From 1953-1956 the Apostolic Process was carried out, and the Congregation proceeded to the discussion on his virtues.

Pope John Paul II, on the 11th October 1980, promulgated the Decree on the heroicity of his virtues. After the approval of the miraculous healing of the Reverend Mis, the Holy Father beatified Father Raphael Kalinowski at Krakow on 22nd June 1983.

As the fame of his miracles was increasing, the Curia of Krakow in 1989, set in motion the Canonical Process to investigate the extraordinary healing of a young child. The discussions of the doctors, theologians and cardinals, were brought to a happy conclusion. On the 10th July 1990, the Holy Father John Paul II, approved the miracle for the canonization.

In the Consistory of 26th November 1990, Pope John Paul together with the Cardinals, decided to canonize Blessed Raphael Kalinowski. They set the ceremony for Sunday, 17th November 1991.

Pope John Paul II, today canonizes him, and presents him as a model to all Christians in the universal Church.

~Source:Vatican.va

November Feast Days

Blessed Lucy of Narnia

Already very early it became evident to her pious Italian family that this child was set for something unusual in life. When Lucy was five years old, she had a vision of the Child Jesus with Our Lady. Two years later, Our Lady appeared with Child Jesus, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Dominic. Jesus gave her a ring and Saint Dominic gave her the scapular. At age 12, she made a private vow of total consecration, determined, even at this early age, to become a Dominican. However, family affairs were to make this difficult. Next year Lucy’s father died, leaving her in the care of an uncle. And this uncle felt that the best way to dispose of a pretty niece was to marry her off as soon as possible.

The efforts of her uncle to get Lucy successfully married form a colorful chapter in the life of the Blessed Lucy. At one time, he arranged a big family party, and his choice of Lucy’s husband was there. He thought it better not to tell Lucy what he had in mind, because she had such queer ideas, so he presented the young man to her in front of the entire assembly. The young man made a valiant attempt to place a ring on Lucy’s finger, and he was thoroughly slapped for his pains.

The next time, the uncle approached the matter with more tact, arranging a marriage with Count Pietro of Milan, who was not a stranger to the family. Lucy was, in fact, very fond of him, but she had resolved to live as a religious. The strain of the situation made her seriously ill. During her illness, Our Lady appeared to her again, accompanied by Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine, and told her to go ahead with the marriage as a legal contract, but to explain to Pietro that she was bound to her vow of virginity and must keep it. When Lucy recovered, the matter was explained to Pietro, and in 1491 the marriage was solemnized.

Lucy’s life now became that of the mistress of a large and busy household. She took great care to instruct the servants in their religion and soon became known for her benefactions to the poor. Pietro, to do him justice, never seems to have objected when his young wife gave away clothes and food, nor when she performed great penances. He knew that she wore a hair-shirt under her rich clothing, and that she spent most of the night in prayer and working for the poor. He even made allowances for the legend told him by the servants, that SS Catherine, Agnes, and Agnes of Montepulciano came to help her make bread for the poor. Only when a talkative servant one day informed him that Lucy was entertaining a handsome young man, who seemed to be an old friend, Pietro took his sword and went to see. He was embarrassed to find Lucy contemplating a large and beautiful crucifix, and he was further confused when the servant told him that the figure on the crucifix looked like the young man he had seen.

But when, after having disappeared for the entire night, Countess Lucia returned home early in the morning in the company of two men and claimed that they were Saint Dominic and John the Baptist, Pietro’s patience finally gave out. He had his young wife locked up. Here she remained for the season of Lent; sympathetic servants brought her food until Easter. Being allowed to go to the church, Lucy never returned. She went to her mother’s house and on the Feast of the Ascension, 1494 May 8, she put on the habit of a Dominican tertiary.

Count Pietro was furious, burned down the Dominican priory and even tried to kill her spiritual director who had given her the habit. Rich and influential, he continued to try to bring her back. Next year Lucia went to Rome and entered the monastery of the Dominican tertiaries near Pantheon. Her sanctity impressed everyone so much that by the end of the year, with five other sisters, she was sent by the Master General of the Dominicans to start a new monastery in Viterbo.

Friday, 1496 February 25, Lucia received the Stigmata, the Sacred Wounds. She tried very hard to hide her spiritual favors, because they complicated her life wherever she went. She had the stigmata visibly, and she was usually in ecstasy, which meant a steady stream of curious people who wanted to question her, investigate her, or just stare at her. Even the sisters were nervous about her methods of prayer. Once they called in the bishop, and he watched Lucy with the sisters for 12 hours, while she went through the drama of the Passion.

The bishop hesitated to pass judgment and called for special commissions; the second one was presided by a famous Inquisitor of Bologna. All declared that her stigmata were authentic. Here the hard-pressed Pietro had his final appearance in Lucy’s life. He made a last effort to persuade Lucy to change her plans and to come back to him. After seeing her, he returned to Narni, sold everything he had and became a Franciscan. In later years, he was a famous preacher.

The duke of Ferrara was planning to build a monastery and, hearing of the fame of the mystic of Viterbo, asked Sister Lucia to come there and be its prioress. Lucy had been praying for some time that a means would be found to build a new convent of strict observance, and she agreed to go to Ferrara.

This touched off a two-year battle between the towns. Viterbo had the mystic and did not want to lose her; the duke of Ferrara sent first his messengers and then his troops to bring her. Much money and time was lost before she finally escaped from Viterbo and was solemnly received in Ferrara on 1499 May 7. Later Duke Ercole asked his future daughter-in-law, Lucrezia Borgia, to bring for Lucy’s convent eleven candidates from Rome on her way to Ferrara. They arrived a few days ahead of Lucrezia’s state entry into Ferrara on 1502 February 2. But the records say, sedately: “Many of these did not persevere.”

The duke of Ferrara liked to show off the convent he had founded. He brought all his guests to see it. One time, he arrived with a troop of dancing girls, who had been entertaining at a banquet, and demanded that Lucy show them her stigmata and, if possible, go into ecstasy. It is not surprising that such events would upset religious life, and that sooner or later something would have to be done about it. Some of the sisters, naturally, thought it was Lucy’s fault.

They petitioned the bishop, and, by the order of the Pope, he sent ten nuns from the Second Order to reform the community. Lucy’s foundation was of the Third Order; of people who remain laymen even after their vows. The Second Order “real” nuns, according to the chronicle, “brought in the very folds of their veils the seed of war”; nuns of the Second Order wore black veils, a privilege not allowed to tertiaries.

The uneasy episode ended when one of these ten nuns was made prioress and when Duke Ercole died on 24 January 1505. Lucy was placed on penance. The nature of her fault is not mentioned, nor was there any explanation of the fact that, until her death, 39 years later, she was never allowed to speak to anyone but her confessor, who was chosen by the prioress. Only now, 500 years later, the situation is slowly beginning to clear.

The Dominican provincial, probably nervous for the prestige of the order, would not let any member of the order go to see her. Her stigmata disappeared, too late to do her any good, and vindictive companions said: “See, she was a fraud all the time.” When she died in 1544, people thought she had been dead for many years. It is hard to understand how anyone not a saint could have so long endured such a life. Lucy’s only friends during her 39 years of exile were heavenly ones; the Dominican Catherine of Racconigi, sometimes visited her–evidently by bi-location–and her other heavenly friends often also came to brighten her lonely cell.

Immediately after her death everything suddenly changed. When her body was laid out for burial so many people wanted to pay their last respects that her funeral had to be delayed by three days. Her tomb in the monastery church was opened four years later and her perfectly preserved body was transferred to a glass case. When Napoleon suppressed her monastery in 1797 her body was transferred to the Cathedral of Ferrara and on 1935 May 26 – to the Cathedral of Narni.

Yes, there is a small town in Italy, very close to Rome, that bears the Italian name of Narni. Until about 200 years ago, for about two thousand years, it was known only as Narnia. And this ancient name even today still continues unchanged not only in Latin but also in some English books.

Carmelite saints, November Feast Days

Blessed Maria Teresa of Jesus

Maria Scrilli was born on 15 May 1825 in Montevarchi, Arezzo, Italy, into an influential family. She was the second daughter of parents who had been hoping for a son and heir. Her mother’s disappointment and lack of affection on this account affected her deeply.

In adolescence, a serious illness confined Maria to bed for nearly two years. She recovered miraculously after invoking the intercession of the holy Martyr, Fiorenzo. During her long convalescence she realized the Lord was calling her to the consecrated life.

She therefore decided to enter the Carmelite Convent of St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi in Florence, although her parents were strongly opposed to it. She returned home after only two months, but the time had nevertheless served to confirm her certainty that God was calling her to do something more.

While seeking to discern the Lord’s plan for her, Maria opened a small school at home where she devoted herself to educating young girls. She provided a moral, civil and religious education, inculcating in them a holy fear of God and the love of virtue. Several other equally zealous young women joined her. Their outstanding spirit of sacrifice attracted the admiration of the Chief Magistrate and of the Superintendent for Schools, who put them in charge of the Scuole Normali Leopoldine. 

Gradually, Maria came to understand that she should found a religious institute devoted exclusively to the education of children from the earliest age through adolescence.

On 15 October 1854, after obtaining the approval of her Bishop and of Duke Leopold II of Habsburg, Grand Duke of Tuscany, she and her three companions were clothed with the Carmelite habit, and Maria founded the Institute known today as the Sisters of Our Lady of Carmel. For her name in religion, she chose “Maria Teresa of Jesus”.

The Sisters were so full of love of God and apostolic zeal that the number of their pupils and aspirants rapidly increased. In spring 1856, at the request of the Municipality of Foiano, Mother Maria Teresa sent several Sisters there to run the girls’ school; their work was deeply appreciated.

Unfortunately, political turmoil, anticlericalism and freemasonry, all widespread at that time, put an end to the new institution almost as soon as it began. The political leaders of Montevarchi, who frowned upon the Carmelites’ presence, confiscated their school in 1859 via the law of partial suppression and obliged them not to wear the religious habit.

But the Sisters would not admit defeat, and the Foundress opened a house and private school in Montevarchi. Due to lack of space in the new premises and to avoid further difficulties, several Sisters and Mother Maria Teresa lived at her family home.

In 1862 individual citizens were deprived of the right to earn a living – let alone to run a private school -, and the Religious had to close their school and return to their respective families.

Mother Maria Teresa moved to Florence in 1878. With the Archbishop’s blessing she could at last reconstitute her community. She opened a boarding school for poor girls which enriched Florentine society with many young women of sound principles. After so many misfortunes, it seemed that everything had turned out for the best, but the Sisters’ troubles were not yet over.

Perhaps because of their austere life and unhealthy living conditions, many Sisters died, including the Foundress. Years of suffering and adversity, borne with holy resignation, had undermined her health. She died near Florence on 14 November 1889, at the age of 64.

Again, it seemed that all was over. The Institute had only two Sisters, a novice and a postulant. 
A former boarder, Clementina Mosca, had seemed to be a promising vocation, but she had entered the Dominican Convent at Sodo. Shortly after the death of Mother Scrilli, however, on 1 December 1898, Clementina decided to enter the tiny Carmelite Institute. Then, when the new Superior died, she became superior and under her leadership the Institute gradually began to flourish.

In 1919 new houses were opened, the Constitutions were drafted, and the Institute had many vocations and obtained diocesan approval “ad experimentum”. On 27 February 1933, it received Papal Approval.

During the World Wars, the Sisters were asked to extend their apostolate to the wounded. Later ministry included assistance to prisoners and the elderly.

Mother Maria Teresa’s charism lives on in her Institute in the nations where it is present today:  Italy, the United States, Canada, Poland, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic and the Philippines.

Pope John Paul II declared Mother Maria Teresa of Jesus Venerable on 20 December 2003, and Pope Benedict XVI recognized the miracle required for her Beatification on 19 December 2005.

~Source:Vatican.va