This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18 -- Feast of Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce

Blessed Maria Teresa
The single most visited post in Hagiomajor is dedicated to Rita of Cascia.  Since writing that, I learned a cool story about Rita that I will share below.  But right now, I need to focus on Maria Teresa, whose feast it is today. 

Maria Teresa was one of eight children.  All the girls told their parents that they wanted to join convents (all the cool kids must have been doing it), but through persistent discouragement, most of them gave up their plan.  Only Maria Teresa stuck to her guns and was permitted to enter a convent. 

Being deeply devoted to Saint Rita, young Maria Teresa wanted to enter the Augustinian house at Cascia.  That was a long way from her home in Genoa, so her folks tried to talk her out of it.  They picked out another Augustinian convent -- one much closer to home.  Again she insisted and prevailed. 

Victory isn't always as sweet as it ought to be.  The few nuns left in the house in Cascia did not really welcome her.  They figured a young Genoan would soon tire of the dull life with seven older nuns in a small country village.  They made it rough on her and soon she returned home to contemplate a new plan. 

Bees to Roses
At home, her old plan looked pretty good again.  She returned, threw herself into her work, and was soon elected mistress of novices.  After six years in the house she was the vicar of the abbess.  After nine years, she was the abbess; she held that post until her death twenty-seven years later. 

Her devotion to Saint Rita was the vehicle by which she hoped to spread faith and revive the convent.  She founded a magazine, From Bees to Roses, to spread her thoughts.  She also planned and began construction on a new shrine of Saint Rita.  Although it was not finished until a few months after her death, the basilica had already begun to draw pilgrims.  After its completion, a shelter for homeless girls, a hospital, a seminary, and a retreat house were all constructed near the Basilica of Saint Rita. 

Saint Rita, sans worm
The number of page hits seems to suggest that Saint Rita has exceptional popularity.  She was apparently an obscure saint when Maria Teresa began her campaign.  If Rita deserves the attention, so too does the beata who built her popularity. 

Oh, and that story about Rita?  She was blessed with a stigma (singular of stigmata) -- a thorn wound in her forehead.   It remained an open would, and at one point at least it had a worm (maggot?) inhabiting it.  Once when she was bent over a book, the little invertebrate dropped out.  She gently reached down, picked the little creature up, and tucked him back into the stigma. 

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