A Catholic Monthly Magazine

March Saints

18 March

Blessed Celestina of the Mother of God

Marianna Donati was born in Florence. At the age of 13 she made her first Holy Communion and felt the first stirrings of a religious vocation. After spending some inconclusive time with the Vallombrosane sisters, she returned to her family and entrusted herself to the guidance of a Piarist priest, Father Celestino Zini.

When her father, deeply attached to his daughter, refused a further request, Marianna resigned herself to living with private vows to God within her parents’ home. When she was 33 years old, her mother died, her father becoming even more attached to her presence.

At age 40, when she once again asked to leave home to take up religious life, her father said that she must take him, her aunt and sister Gemma with her. Finally, the following year, Marianna was joined by four young women who wanted to serve Christ in the very poor and later formed the nucleus of the Daughters of the Poor of St Joseph Calasanz.

Now called Mother Celestina, Marianna’s profound religious spirit and union with God expressed itself in care for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of child victims of abandonment or abuse. She opened her first school outside Florence in 1889 to provide a Christian education and offer these poor children a chance to live a better adult life.

In 1890, one of the four founding Sisters died of consumption. Two years later Archbishop Zini died. In 1899, due to a sad circumstance brought to Celestina’s notice, the Sisters began their ministry to the children of prisoners.

The backbone of Mother Celestina’s accomplishments was a strong spiritual life. She had great devotion to Jesus Crucified and was an ardent apostle of Eucharistic Adoration. She knew how to instil into her Sisters the spirit of holy poverty. She died in Florence in 1925.

Blessed Celestina, obtain for us the patience to await God’s time in our lives.

Source: Internet – various

4 March

St Giovanni Antonio Farina

Giovanni Farina was born in Gambellara, Italy, the second of five brothers. After the premature death of his father, his uncle, Fr Antonio, took the family into his home. This priest was his spiritual and intellectual mentor.

When Giovanni was 15, he entered the diocesan seminary of Vicenza, where at 21, he was asked to begin teaching. He was ordained priest in 1827 and immediately earned an elementary school teacher's diploma. On account of his pedagogical gifts, he was appointed as teacher and spiritual director at the seminary where he served for 18 years. He was assistant pastor at St Peter's Parish for 10 years and headmaster in elementary and secondary schools in Vicenza.

In 1831 in Vicenza he founded the first school for poor girls and in 1836, the Institute of the Sisters Teachers of St Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts, to supply suitable teachers. He wanted his religious also to care for deaf-mutes, blind girls and the psychologically disabled. They nursed the sick and the elderly in hospital and at home. 

In 1850 Giovanni was appointed Bishop of Treviso. Here he undertook a variety of pastoral initiatives, forming his priests and laity for evangelisation and Catholic Action. Throughout his ten-year term, canonical problems with the Cathedral Chapter caused him constant suffering and setbacks. Here he was able to follow the preparation of Giuseppe Sarto (the future St Pius X) for the priesthood in 1858.

In 1860 he was transferred to Vicenza. During his 28 years as bishop he embarked on an ambitious pastoral programme that included the spiritual and cultural formation of priests and laity for evangelisation, the reform of studies and discipline in the seminary, and the organisation of associations for the care of the poor. He was called the ‘Bishop of Charity.’

He was devoted to pastoral visitation and visited every parish in his diocese. His strength ebbed after a serious illness in 1886 and he died from a stroke in Vicenza on 4 March 1888.

St Giovanni, Obtain for us a deep spirit of empathy with the poor and suffering.  

Source: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy 

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