Today, the universal Church celebrates a beautiful lady, St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin.
On October 6, 1888, she was born Anna Francesca Boscardin at Brendola, Veneto, to a poor peasant family. In her town, the people called her, “Annette”. This dear little girl was in constant fear of her abusive alcoholic father, Angelo Boscardin. (Indeed and in fact, Angelo testified during her beautification process that he was “jealous, violent and frequently drunk.”) Accordingly, she lived in a kind of terror, a horrible environment for a little girl. She attended school irregularly, because she had to help at home and work in the fields to support her family. One could safely presume that this was necessary because her father was not a reliable provider for the needs of this family.
People viewed her as not particularly intelligent with not many talents, being the target of inappropriate and insulting jokes. A “local clergyman” called her “goose” because she was “slow”. (Shame on this “clergyman”! And look who became the saint!)
When she was eight and a half-years of age, she was allowed to receive her First Holy Communion, wherein the authorized age was usually at 11. At the age of 12, a priest accepted her into the “Children of Mary” association. This kind priest gave her a catechism. (This gift was found in her possession at the time she died at the age of 34.)
She was rejected for admission into a religious order because she was too slow, but in 1904 in Vicenza, she joined the Sisters of St. Dorothy, a teaching order, whereupon she took her new name, “Maria Bertilla.” Dear Maria, remembering the criticism she received all of her life, told the novice-mistress of the order, “I can’t do anything. I’m a poor thing, a goose. Teach me. I want to be a saint.” Maria was assigned to work in the bakery, the laundry and the kitchen.
The order sent Maria to Treviso to learn nursing at the municipal hospital under the order’s tutelage and direction. She at once was placed in the kitchen, but after she finished her training, she was promoted to working with victims who suffered from the terrible disease of diphtheria in the children’s ward. Sister Maria became the children’s favorite Sister, because of her kind, gentle and sweet ways.
During World War I, whilst the air raids of Treviso occurred which followed the Battle of Caporetto, the order’s hospital fell under the care, custody and control of the military. Sister Maria cared for her patients with diligence and love, particularly those patients who were too ill to be moved to safety. She remained with these patients even amidst the constant bombing.
Sister Maria remained very popular with her patients, and a jealous superior removed her from her important position as a nurse to go back to work in the kitchen. She remained in this capacity for four months, when the mother-general of the order, having discovered this ridiculous re-assignment because of envy and ill-will, assigned Sister Maria to be in charge of the children’s isolation ward at the hospital, the highest position she had received.
Sister Maria suffered from ill-health during her life, wherein she endured the pain of a tumor which progressed to the point of requiring surgery. Our dear Sister Maria did not survive the operation, having died of cancer on October 20, 1922.
She was beatified on June 8, 1952 by Pope Pius XII, and canonized on May 11, 1961, by Pope John XXIII.
The anger ran through my veins as I learned about this most lovely and pure saint, dear Maria, who was badgered, ridiculed and rejected by idiotic and narcissistic individuals, including a clergyman, who called her a “goose”. Her little description of herself shows her humility, but it also showed that she all the while had the real goal in her life, which bypasses millions of narcissists, of wanting to be a saint. We also learn that she had many talents and capabilities, in the kitchen, in the laundry, in the bakery, and most importantly, in nursing and caring for little children awaiting death, and tending to wounded soldiers during World War I. The mother superior of her order saw her great gifts and obviously admired her great charity, forbearance, courage and endurance. And to think that her previous superior abused this fine saint by re-assigning her to duties believed to be less important. Dear Lord, please help me to never be jealous! I do not understand jealousy or envy, because thankfully, I have never experienced same. But we learn from this saint that she was a victim of jealous and envious individuals all throughout her life; yet, she remained steadfast through her love of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic Faith that she treasured.
Dear St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin, having just met you today, I cherish you very much, as I wipe the tears from my eyes so I can finish typing this post, so that many other individuals can learn about you and your wonderful life of pure love. Please remember us here on earth, and intercede for us to the Triune God, to help us to be pure of heart as you were, and loving and giving as you were.
St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin, pray for us!
With respect and love,
Sources: catholicnewsagency; Franciscan Media
(P.S. I received an e-mail from Franciscan Media today, Wednesday, February 26th, that St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin is the Saint of the Day. However, I am unsure if her feast day is today, because she died on October 20th, 1922. In any event, I shall leave this wonderful lady for today’s saint.)