Foundress of the Congregation of Daughters of Mercy (1892-1966)
+ Maria was born into a large family in Blato, Korcula, Croatia. Her family was known for charity to the poor and Maria received an excellent education.
+ Feeling drawn to religious life, she made a private vow of chastity in 1906 and served as the president of an spiritual sodality called the Daughters of Mary from 1909 to 1919. During that time she visited the sick, helped prepare children for their first communion, and even founded a society for Catholic mothers.
+ In 1917, she began working in a soup kitchen operated by the Sisters of Charity and she would become a member of that community in 1919. Because of political tensions, the Sisters of Charity were forced to discontinue their work in Croatia in 1920 and this inspired Maria to establish a new congregation, which she named the Daughters of Mercy.
+ Maria served as a superior of the new community for the next thirty years, helping to establish nearly 50 communities. The sisters served in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, seminaries, and parishes.
+ After an extended illness, Blessed Maria Petkovic died in Rome on July 9, 1966. She was beatified in 2003.
For prayer and reflection
“Love infinitely the most sweet Lord Jesus Christ; do everything for Him alone and spend your life in works of mercy and of love.”—Blessed Maria Petkovic
Today we also remember Blessed Faustino Villenueva. Born in Spain, he entered the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1956. He was sent to his community’s missions in Quiché, Guatemala. For the next 21 years, he served as pastor of several parishes and was a staunch advocate for the rights of the indigenous peoples. Because of his opposition to oppressive government policies, Faustino was shot to death by two unknown assailants in the parish rectory on July 10, 1981. Blessed Faustino was beatified with other martyrs from Guatemala in 2021.
O God, who called blessed Maria to seek your Kingdom in this world through the pursuit of perfect charity, grant, we pray, through her intercession that we may advance with joyful spirit along the way of love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Religious)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.