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Pope approves canonization of “Apostle of the Holy Spirit”


Tetraktys - CC BY 3.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 04/28/24

Bl. Elena Guerra taught St. Gemma Galgani and had a particular devotion to the Holy Spirit, founding the Oblates of the Holy Spirit.

On April 13, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Bl. Elena Guerra, a native of Lucca, Italy, from the 19th century.

The miracle paves the way for the canonization of Bl. Elena, which will take place at a later time.

Teacher of St. Gemma Galgani

Born in Lucca on June 23, 1835, Elena was drawn to a particular devotion to the Holy Spirit after her confirmation at eight years old.

As she grew into an adult, she was pulled in a variety of directions and was constantly discerning what God wanted her to do.

Eventually she was led to begin teaching children of wealthy parents in Lucca, as the Vatican biography explains:

[A]fter reading the biography of Saint Angela Merici, wanting to do something for youth education, she [was inspired] to [found a] school for some poor girls in the house of a Lady of Charity. Then, with the help of the parish priest of the cathedral, in December 1872 she opened a private school for the daughters of the bourgeoisie and the Lucca nobility.

She continued in this apostolate for 10 years before founding the “Oblates of the Holy Spirit.”

In 1882, she left her home and in a building purchased with funds acquired following the division of family assets, a community life began with what were called Oblates of the Holy Spirit. And there, as long as she lived, Elena educated several hundred young people to Christian life, including Saint Gemma Galgani, who asked to enter the nascent community.

Apostle of the Holy Spirit

Elena was saddened that few had a devotion to the Holy Spirit and began writing short books in hopes of inspiring others to invoke the Holy Spirit.

She even went so far as to recommend that Pope Leo XIII encourage all clergy to participate in a Pentecost novena for the conversion of all.

After many years of disease and various misunderstandings that caused her much pain, she died on April 11, 1914.

Many recognized her holiness and so her cause for canonization was officially opened in 1930. She was declared “venerable” in 1953.

She was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1959 and will now be canonized.

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