Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The "Excellent Foundress"

The Venerable Giovanni Merlini, 3rd Moderator of the Congregation of the Precious Blood, a favorite companion of its founder, St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and spiritual guide of Maria de Mattias, referred to her in his funeral oration as "an excellent foundress, a woman able to govern numerous communities and many daughters".

Maria de Mattias (1805-1866) came from Vallecorsa (Frosinone), Italy. In her adolescence there she met Gaspar and Merlini, under whose guidance she came to realize that her vocation was to found a community of nuns in 1834 at Acuto: the Congregation of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Her motto was "Charity toward God and toward our dear neighbor."

Merlini later spoke of Maria as "a strong woman, a tireless worker…" He describes her as having a sensitive heart, open to God's grace, an energetic spirit, and a saintly character. That came, as it always does, at a personal cost. Maria's devotion to the Mother of Christ as a young woman revealed to her her vanity and pride, and moved her to eventually appreciate and perpetuate a greater vision of unselfishly helping others to realize Christ's desire to love and be loved by them, under the symbol of his precious Blood.

Father most holy, who in your loving plan adorned
St. Maria de Mattias with exceptional gifts of grace
so that in the Church she might be a witness to the
blood of Christ: grant that, through her intercession, 
we may faithfully adore Christ who died and rose for us,
celebrate with thanksgiving the new and eternal covenant
in his blood, and with zeal proclaim to all the power
of the love of Christ crucified.

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