Spirituality for Today – Winter 2021 – Volume 25, Issue 2

Saint of the Month for December 2021
Mary di Rosa – December 15

Born into a large Italian family in 1813, Paula di Rosa was a delicate girl whose father was a wealthy textile mill owner. Her family was devoted to the Church. When Paula was just a child, her mother died, and Paula was educated by nuns. At age 17, she left school to take charge of her father's household.

Although her father tried to find her a husband, Paula did not want to marry. Instead, she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others. So she began with the women and children who worked in her father's mill, arranging for retreats and missions as well as establishing a women's guild. During a deadly cholera epidemic, Paula bravely tended to the sick in the hospital. Her work was so impressive that she was asked to run a workhouse for poor and abandoned girls.

Worried that many of the girls had no place to sleep at night, Paula opened a small boardinghouse for them. She also started a school for the girls who were hearing-impaired. But Paula wanted to do even more. When she was 27, she founded a religious society called the Handmaids of Charity, which was dedicated to the physical and spiritual care of the poor and the sick. In 1848 when Italy was at war, Paula and her sisters offered their services at a military hospital. Despite the doctors' opposition, the Handmaids provided comfort in the hospitals and also to the wounded and dying on the battlefield.

When her congregation was finally approved in 1850, Paula took the name Mary of the Crucified. She died five years later from physical exhaustion, but her faith and selfless works remain an inspiration to this day.

Lord, You opened Mary di Rosa's heart
to young people who were lonely,
unwanted and in need of her comfort.
There are still too many children in our world
who suffer from the emptiness of abuse and neglect.
We ask You to bless the new families who raise them.
Let them offer the love and security that every child deserves.
Teach us to nurture all children in a community of hope
and help us to make the world a better place for them to live.


Contemporary prayer
From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Live