Roman martyrology: Professed religious, Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary.
Beatification Date: October 4, 1981 by Pope John Paul II.
Born on 1 November 1807 at Voltaggio, Italy. Daughter of a notary, and the oldest of eleven children. It was a pious family – three of her sisters became nuns, one brother a priest. Maria joined the Daughters of Our Lady of Refuge (Brignolines) in Genoa, Italy on 7 May 1829, making her final vows in 1831. Seamstress and embroiderer for many years.
When her eyesight began to fail, she was made portress and gatekeeper of her convent, keeping the world out, and being the face of the convent to those outside. Believing in the good of work, and needing diplomatic skills in her position, Sister Maria developed a deep devotion to Saint Joseph, constantly asking for his prayers, protection and guidance. She distributed small medals and images of Joseph, and could heal by placing the image over the affected area, and praying. Owning nothing herself, she still managed to care for the poor. Maria worked selflessly with the sick during cholera epidemics of 1835 and 1854.
Maria’s largesse caused some troubles within her community. The sheer number of people who showed up each day was considered by some of her sisters to be a disruption to their religious lives, and for a while Sister Maria was relieved of her position. She believed it was because she had sinned in some way, and spent most of her time in prayer. Eventually, however, her superiors re-evaluated their decision, and returned Maria to her place at the door.
All her life Maria would un-self-consciously speak to Jesus or the Father as she went about her duties, and toward the end of her life she began to hear answers and see visions of coming home to God.
Died on January 6, 1890 at Genoa, Italy of natural causes.