St. Paula Frassinetti: A Saint for the Sick
Today’s saint of the day is St. Paula Frassinetti (1809 – 1882) also known as Paola Frassinetti. She was the only daughter born to John and Angela Frassinetti in Genoa, Italy. The family is holy and she is well-educated in her faith. All four of her brothers become priests.
Paula’s mother dies when she is only nine years old and she embraces the Blessed Mother as her new mother. An aunt moves in with the family to run the household, but after three years she, too, dies, and, at the age of 12, Paula assumes the responsibility, mothering all four of her brothers. Paula is educated by her father and her brothers at home. She attends daily Mass and prays constantly, even while performing her chores. Her brother, Giuseppe, a theology student, speaks to her of God and she begins to hear the call to religious life.
At the age of 19, Paula suffers from physically exhaustion and a respiratory problem. Her brother, Father Giuseppe, who is parish priest at Quinto, a small seaside village, offers her hospitality for some time. The pure air of Quinto proves beneficial to her delicate health. Parish life affords her the opportunity of doing good, as little by little, her gentle ways attract the youth of the neighborhood. Every Sunday they go to the woods to speak about God. Paula reveals to her companions the secrets of a life totally dedicated to God, and she discovers her vocation as an educator. An enthusiastic group which lives in communion of love, forms itself around Paula. In her mind the idea of a new institute becomes clear and she confides it to her brother, Father Giuseppe.
In 1835, a priest from Bergamo – Father Luca Passi, a friend of Father Giuseppe – having known Paula’s apostolic zeal asks her to assume the Pious Work of Saint Dorothy, which he started with the aim of reaching the poorest and most needy youth in their work and life environment. , Paula consents and founds a new religious group, the Sisters of Saint Dorothy. The Sisters of St. Dorothy were first called to care for the sick in the cholera epidemic that destroyed northern Italy in 1835.
Paula undergoes difficulties in her work. After months of developing a rule for the order, she presents it to the Jesuit priests, who ridicule her efforts. However, she accepts this as she does with all things — in a spirit of humility.
Only seven years after the foundation of the order, on May 19, 1841, Paula arrives in Rome accompanied by two novices. Here she is received in audience by Pope Gregory XVI who is pleased with the work of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy. Foundations were soon opened in Italy, Portugal, and Brazil.
Paula died at the age of 73, following a series of strokes. Her last words were addressed to Our Lady: ” My Mother, remember I am your child “.
Paula’s incorrupt body is entombed at Saint Onofria, the Dorothean motherhouse in Rome, Italy. She was canonized on March 11, 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
St. Paula is the patron of sick people.
~Saint Paula Frassinetti