Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno: Wife, Mother, Widow, Religious, Foundress
The saint of the day for May 6th is Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno. Rosa (1831-1900) was one of six children born to the wealthy, pious family of Francesco Benedetta and Adelaide Campanella Benedetta in Genoa, Italy. She had a very serene and lovable character, and practiced the virtues of piety and charity.
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. Her husband attempted to find fortune abroad, and received a fatal illness, leaving her a widow with three children, less than six years into 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. She received daily, Holy Communion, which was uncommon in those days. She grew daily in her intimacy with the Lord, and it is in Him, that she found her support, missionary fervor, strength and zeal for service to her brothers and sisters. As a third order Franciscan, she took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Shortly thereafter, she received the gift of the hidden stigmata, the five wounds of Christ.
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.
She found the Crucified Christ in everyone she served, always preaching the Gospels, through the actions of her life. Her charism has spread in the Church with the birth of other forms of Evangelical life – Sisters of Contemplative life, a Religious Association of Priests, the Secular Institute and the Ecclesial Movement for the Laity, which are all active in the Church, in almost all parts of the world today. She is a role model to many, as she served God in many vocations in life – Wife, Mother, Widow, Religious, and Foundress.
Novena to Blessed Anna Rosa Gattorno
Blessed Gattorno, your life was one of continual suffering. Notably your first child was left deaf and mentally handicapped after a sudden illness. Later you would lose your husband after only 6 years of marriage and then your youngest little son. Bl. Gattorno the suffering of your life brought you to a closer communion with Jesus. Pray that our suffering here on earth will also bring such beautiful fruits. Pray that we may possess a missionary fervor, strength and zeal of service to our neighbors. Pray Bl. Gattorno that our faith may deepen so that we may face all obstacles in our life with trust and complete abandonment to Jesus. We ask that you present our petitions to Jesus at the foot of the cross. Amen.
(1 Our Father, I Hail Mary, 1 Glory Be)