Spirituality for Today – May 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 10

Saint of the Month
St. Mary Mazzarello

May, 14

A painting of Saint Mary MazzarelloSaint Mary Mazzarello

Named Maria Domenica at birth, Mary was born in 1837. As a girl, she worked on her parents' farms. She also donated many hours to a lay charity that was dedicated to the spirit of the Virgin Mary.

The group was influenced by the example of Father John Bosco, who gave vocational and spiritual training to poor, young boys. Indeed, Father Bosco would play an important role in Mary's life through the years.

Then, in 1860, typhoid swept through Mornese, and Mary caught it while taking care of sick relatives. After her recovery, she was too weak for farm work and decided to start a dressmaking business. Soon, Mary was teaching young village girls her craft, giving them the same opportunities Father Bosco offered boys.

In 1865, Father Bosco came to Mornese to open a school, but he never did. Instead, he was so impressed with Mary's work that he gave her the building for her girls. Soon after, in 1972, Mary and 10 associates took their vows and became the first members of the Salesian Sisters. Father Bosco drafted the Order's rules, and Mary became its first superior.

Although largely unschooled herself, Mary was an effective leader, and she infused the Order with her virtues of hard work and congeniality. The Salesian Sisters grew quickly, adding houses in Italy, France and South America. In 1881, Mary fell ill on a trip to Marseilles. She returned home, and Father Bosco gave her the last rites. Mary died a few days later.

In the light of Your Spirit of Light, O Lord,
free me from doubts; show me Your face;
reveal to me the splendor of Your kingdom;
open my eyes to Your presence
hidden in the heart of the world.
Through the breath of Your enthusiasm
and strength-giving Spirit, O Lord,
free me from the fear of putting my life at stake;
open up the flowing springs of my energy;
make me ever share my happiness with others;
help my heart to sympathize with the woes of my sisters and brothers;
help me give my all for the young and poor.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives