St Mary di Rosa

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Nun and foundress of the Handmaids of Charity. St Mary took seriously Jesus' words that whoever helped the least of his brethren did it to him.

Born in 1813, in Brescia, since she was a young girl Mary was always very concerned about the poor and sick. She regularly visited the women and child factory workers who lived in appalling conditions. She also went to the hospital each day to visit patients. She took a particular interest in the deaf.

At the age of 27 she established her order. War broke out with Austria in 1849 and the sisters worked night and day, nursing the injured and caring for displaced families.

In 1852 there was an outbreak of cholera which decimated the population. Mary di Rosa personally cared for hundreds of people throughout the epidemic, and died, it is said, of exhaustion, in 1855. She was just 42. She was canonised in 1954.