Saint Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa, Virgin

December 15

Today is the feast day of Saint Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa.  Ora pro nobis.

Lord, hear the prayers of those who recall the devoted life of the virgin Saint Maria Crocifissa di Rosa. Guide us on our way and help us to grow in love and devotion as long as we live. We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Saint Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa was born Paula Francesca Maria Di Rosa.  Her birth place was Brescia Italy.  She was one of nine children of a spinning mill owner and countess. Maria was raised in the Catholic faith, and of her siblings, demonstrated the greatest interest and calling to the Lord. A well-balanced and normal childhood, the family spent happy times together, and religious devotions were a significant part of the time they spent together. When Paula was just ten years old, her mother died, but little changed in the household due to well-established routines. A nearby convent of Visitation nuns undertook the education and instruction of Paula and her sisters, teaching them the Catechism, sewing, music, poetry, manners, and devotions.

At the age of seventeen, she left that school after the death of her mother, to care for her father.  He ran a sawmill with many employees and needed the help.  She also was noted for helping the women and girls working at the sawmill.  In 1836 there was a cholera epidemic.  She also worked in the hospital in Brescia to assist those with cholera.  She went on and founded a school for the hearing impaired and created programs to assist women of poverty.

At the age of 27, Paula decided that she needed to be a bit more organized in her charitable efforts. She was concerned with the lives of the factory workers after they left their jobs, as many of the young were living in unsafe conditions and were easily targeted and victimized. Together with a wealthy widow, Gabriela Bornati, she founded the society of Handmaids of Charity. The sole purpose of the Handmaids was to minister to the material needs of those afflicted by poverty or disease. Her first act was to found a home dedicated to the spiritual needs of the young women she cared for, and a school for deaf children. Forsaking luxury, she lived in a tiny shack by the hospital, caring for the ill on a daily basis.

Her father, for his part, while still wishing to see her married, was concerned with her living conditions. He offered a house to the women, which they accepted. Gabriela died there some three years later, but not before the Handmaids of Charity had established a solid presence throughout the region. In 1840, Paula became the superior of the Order, taking the name Maria Crocifissa. The local bishop offered approval of the order, followed by papal approval in 1850.

Her strong spirituality was grounded in the imitation of Christ’s suffering on the Cross.  This was the basis of her teaching and contemplation.  In her love of the crucified Christ, she translated her dedication to him towards the suffering members of His Mystical Body.  In 1840, at the age of thirty, she took the name of Maria Crocifissa di Rosa.  She founded a new religious congregation, the Handmaids of Charity.  Their chief apostolate was the care of poor, the sick and the suffering.  Her new Order was granted Papal approval in 1850.  St. Maria Crocifissa di Rose died at Brescia, in 1855, at the age of 42.  She was beatified and canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1954.

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Research by REGINA Staff


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