Today is the feast day of Saint Vincenza Gerosa. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Vincenza was born Catherine Gerosa in Lovere, Bergamo, Italy in 1784. She was orphaned as a youth. Catherine was eventually adopted by a wealthy family of shopkeepers. Despite her family’s wealth, Catherine grew up shy and reserved. She was ever focused on aiding those in need, specifically the poor and abandoned. She dressed modestly, and spent her time away from working at the family shop in prayer and at daily Mass.
Catherine was sent by her parents to be educated by the Benedictine Sisters of Gandino. However, she soon fell ill, and her poor health prevented her from continuing her studies. She returned to Lovere, where her mother, father, and dear sister died in rapid succession. Catherine was left alone to manage the family business, suffering the losses of her family by offering them to Christ. She prayed constantly to accept the will of the Lord in her life, and used her family’s money to provide charitable works in the community. Catherine became involved in her Church parish, organizing a women’s oratory with meetings and retreats. She founded a practical school to teach the poor girls of the community domestic work so as to improve their station in life.
In her teachings, Catherine encountered Bartolomea Capitanio, and together they embarked on a new mission: to found a hospital to care for those who could not afford medical care. This they did, and extended their mission to establishing a special religious institute with the objectives of providing assistance to the sick, free education for girls, Christian orphanages, and programs designed to promote youth welfare. To accomplish this mission, together they founded the Sisters of Charity in 1824. At that time, Catherine took the name Vincenza. Together they wrote ‘the Foundation Document” which forms the basis of the Rule of Life for the Order: “The Institute which will be founded in Lovere is be totally founded on charity and this must be its principle aim…should have as its aim the education of poor young girls…devote itself to the relief of the sick..”
Only nine short years later, Bartolomea died, leaving Vincenza to manage and expand the order. The Order of the Sisters of Charity was approved by Pope Gregory XVI in 1840, and quickly spread throughout Italy, and later to India and other countries. Vincenza continued overseeing the order until her death in 1847. Her body is venerated at the Chapel of the Sisters of Charity in Lovere.
Saint Vincenza Gerosa was beatified on 7 May 1933 by Pope Pius XI. She was canonized on 18 May 1950 by Pope Pius XII.
Image: Saint Vincenza Gerosa (3)