A Mystic who Re-Wrote the Rules for Nuns
In a post on the Feast of Saint Alphonsus Maria Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, I mentioned that he co-founded the Redemptionist Order with Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa. A little more information about that is appropriate on her feast.
Maria Celeste came from one of the more privileged families in Naples. Although her dad would have happily found her a prosperous husband to ensure a life of comfort and leisure (as much as one can ensure such things), she opted for the religious life. Unlike some eighteenth century dads, he didn't kick too much, being more concerned about what she wanted for herself than about what he wanted for her.
She entered a Carmelite monastery at age 23, but the bishop closed the house four years later. She moved to a monastery in Scala, the director of which was Tomaso Falcoia. Maria Celeste began to have visions in which changes in the monastery were revealed to her. Poor Tomaso became something of a local laughingstock, caught between rejecting visions which made sense (and in which he was of uncertain belief) and taking orders from one of the sisters. Local gossips were making things very uncomfortable for him by the time Saint Alphonsus, a brilliant lawyer and priest, visited to investigate.
He arrived with an attitude of skepticism, noting that there are more false visions than true ones. Nine days later, he left with a conviction that the new monastic Rule was divinely inspired and needed to be implemented. With Maria Celeste, he worked closely in founding the Redemptionist Order and in reaching out to the urban poor, evangelizing those who were overlooked right there at home.
When Maria Celeste died a month and a half shy of her sixtieth birthday, a Redemptionist named St. Gerard Majella told one of the brothers that he had seen the sister's soul depart the body and fly upward in the shape of a dove. You can't be much more certain of someone's sainthood than that.