Religious Sister and Foundress (1813-1855)
+ Paola Francesca di Rosa was born was born into a wealthy family in Brescia, Italy. Educated by the Visitation Nuns, she left school following her mother’s death in 1824 and began working in a mill owned by her father.
+ The young woman saw the difficult conditions the workers had to endure and, after becoming a manager at the age of 19, she began to take a special interest in the experiences of the women working in the factory. She dedicated a decade of her life to this and other forms of social work.
+ In 1836, Brescia was struck by a cholera epidemic and Paola went to serve the ill in a local hospital. It was around this time that she began to direct a home for deaf and mute women.
+ In time, Paola brought together a group of like-minded women and established a new religious community that came to be known as the Ancelle della carità (“The Handmaids of Charity”). Paola took the religious name Maria Crocifissa and was clothed in the religious habit in 1852.
+ Maria Crocifissa spent the last years of her life guiding her community and dedicating herself to the care of the sick and poor. She died on December 15, 1855, and was canonized in 1954.
For prayer and reflection
“I suffer from seeing suffering.”—Saint Maria Crocifissa di Rosa
On this day, the Church also honors the memory of Blessed Ramón Eirin Mayo. A Salesian religious brother, he served as a teacher in Madrid, Spain, before his school was shut down during the anti-Catholic persecutions of the Spanish Civil War. Blessed Ramón died as a martyr in the same persecutions on December 15, 1936, and was beatified in 2007.
O God, who have taught your Church to keep all the heavenly commandments by love of you as God and love of neighbor; grant that, practicing the works of charity after the example of blessed Maria Crocifissa, we may be worthy to be numbered among the blessed in your Kingdom. 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 Those Who Practiced Works of Mercy)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.