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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Beatifications: Charles de Foucauld, Maria Curcio, Maria Mastena
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 Yesterday morning, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins CMF, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, lead a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica during which he read the Apostolic Letter by which the Pope proclaimed as Blessed, the following Servants of God: Charles de Foucauld, priest (1858-1916); Maria Pia Mastena, virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Countenance (1881-1951); and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, virgin and founder of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St Theresa of the Child Jesus (1877-1957). At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father venerated the relics of the new Blessed, and gave his apostolic blessing. Charles De Foucauld (Brother Charles of Jesus) was born in Strasbourg, France on 15 September, 1858. Orphaned at the age of six, he and his sister Marie were raised by their grandfather in whose footsteps he followed by taking up a military career. He lost his faith as an adolescent. His taste for easy living was well known to all and yet he showed that he could be strong willed and constant in difficult situations. He undertook a risky exploration of Morocco (1883-1884). Seeing the way Muslims expressed their faith questioned him and he began repeating, "My God, if you exist, let me come to know you." In October 1886 he rediscovered his faith. A pilgrimage to the Holy Land revealed his vocation to him: to follow Jesus in his life at Nazareth. He spent seven years as a Trappist, first in France and then at Akbès in Syria. Later he began to lead a life of prayer and adoration, alone, near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth. Ordained a priest at 43, in 1901, he left for the Sahara, living at first in Beni Abbès and later at Tamanrasset among the Tuaregs of the Hoggar. He wanted to be among those who were, "the furthest removed, the most abandoned." He wanted all who drew close to him to find in him a brother, "a universal brother." On the evening of December 1st 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders who had encircled his house. Maria Pia Mastena was born in Bovolone in the Italian province of Verona on December 7, 1881. Her parents were exemplary Christians and very fervent in the practice of the faith and in works of charity. On 19 March 1891 she made her First Holy Communion and made a private vow of perpetual chastity. During her adolescence she was assiduous at religious functions and at parish activities, especially as a catechist. She requested to enter religious life at the age of 14, but she was only accepted as a postulant in 1901 in the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona. On 24 October 1904 she professed vows of religious life and received the name Sister Passitea Maria of the Child Jesus. She was a teacher in various places in the Veneto region, in particular for more than 19 years in Miane, where she dedicated herself to an intense apostolate to students of every age, infirmity and disability. With the authorisation of her superiors and! the "nulla osta" of the Holy See, on 15 April 1927 she entered the Cistercian monastery of Veglie, to fulfil a deep desire for the contemplative life. On 15 November, 1927, with the encouragement of the bishop of Vittorio Veneto, she left the monastery, resumed teaching and proceeded toward the foundation of a new religious institute called the Religious of the Holy Face. Her entire apostolic ministry was dedicated to the establishment and the expansion of the Congregation, through promoting new initiatives for the poor, the suffering and the infirm. She died in Rome on 28 June 1951. Maria Crocifissa Curcio, foundress of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, was born in Ispica, south east Sicily, in the diocese of Noto, on January 30, 1877, the seventh of ten siblings. Lively intelligent and with a pleasant personality, she was very strong-willed and determined, and in her early teens she developed a strong tendency towards piety, with specific attention and solidarity towards the weak and marginalised. She found a copy of the Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus. The impact of this saint enabled her to come to know and love the Carmel, and so she began her "study of celestial things". In 1890, at the age of thirteen, she succeeded, and not without difficulty, in enrolling in the Carmelite Third Order. Her desire to share the ideal of a Missionary Carmel, which unites the contemplative dimension with that of a specifically apostolic dimension, she began an initial experience of community life with a few fellow members of the Third Order. After several years of trials and hardships in May 17, 1925, she came to Rome for the canonization of St Therese of the Child Jesus, and the next day, accompanied by father Lorenzo, she visited Santa Marinella, a small town on the Latium coast north of Rome. She was struck by the natural beauty of this region, but also by the extreme poverty of a great number of this town's inhabitants and it was here that she finally realised that she had reached her landing place. In 1930 her small group obtained the recognition of the Church as the Congregation of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She was able to achieve her missionary yearning in 1947 when she sent the first sisters to Brazil. She died on 4 July 1957. Source: VIS
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