Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorna
The saint of the day for May 6th is Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorna. Rosa (1831-1900) was one of six children born to the wealthy, pious family of Francesco Benedetta and Adelaide Campanella Benedetta in Genoa, Italy.
Rosa was married at the age of 21 to Gerolamo Custo and moved with him to Marseilles, France. Financial difficulties brought them back to Genoa. Then following a serious illness, their oldest child became deaf and mute, Gerolamo died suddenly, leaving her a widow with three children, after six years of marriage.A few months later, the youngest child also died.
These tragedies opened up Rosa’s heart to God and she felt called by God to give herself totally to Him. As a third order Franciscan, she took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Shortly thereafter, she received the gift of the hidden stigmata.
Rosa received a call from God to found her own congregation. However, she was hesitant to follow up on this call, as it would mean separation from her two surviving children. She met with Pope Pius IX, who urged her to found the order immediately.
In 1866, along with Father Giovannio Battista Tornatore, she founded the the Daughters of Saint Anne, Mother of Mary Immaculate in Piacenza, Italy. The order served the sick and the poor. She established schools for the poor and for nurses, womens’ shelters for former prostitutes, etc. She advised her sisters: “Be humble … only think that you are the lowliest and the most wretched of all creatures who render service to the Church… and have the grace to belong to her”. At her death, there were 368 houses in which 3,500 sisters were carrying out their mission.