The following were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994:
Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga
Elizabeth Canonori Mora
Gianna Beretta Molla
Josephine Vannini Maddalena Caterina Morano
Petra of St. Joseph Perez Florido
5 November 1994
BL. MADDALENA CATERINA MORANO was born in
1847 into a large family in Chieri, near Turin, Italy. When she was
eight years old, her father and older sister died, and so young
Maddalena had to work. However, she applied herself to study as well,
and in 1866 she received her diploma as an elementary school teacher.
Her studies increased her knowledge of Christian doctrine and her
longing to be a saint. She wished to enter religious life, but the
needs of her family required her to wait. For 12 years she worked as a
rural school teacher in Montaldo and taught catechism in the local
In 1878, having set aside enough savings for her mother's future
needs, Maddalena entered the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a
congregation founded six years earlier by Don Bosco. She was a model
religious, and after a brief but intense novitiate she took her first
vows. In 1881, with Don Bosco's blessing, she was sent to Trecastagni
(Diocese of Catania), Sicily, and put in charge of an existing
institute for women, to which she gave a new orientation inspired by
the principles of the Salesian method.
Sicily became her second home, where she carried out a varied and
fruitful apostolate. She opened new houses, set up after-school
activities and sewing classes, trained teachers, etc. Her real love,
though, was for catechism class, since she was convinced that the
formation of Christian conscience was the basis of personal maturity
and all social improvement. She coordinated catechetical instruction
in 18 of Catania's churches and trained lay and religious catechists
to bring the Christian message to needy boys and girls.
She spent 25 years in Sicily and served her community as local and
provincial superior. She was an attentive mother and caring guide for
many local vocations, faithfully living the charism of Mother Maria
Mazzarello, co-foundress of the institute. She died in Catania at the
age of 61 on 26 March 1908.
16 October 1994
BL. MARIA RAFOLS
was born on 5 November 1781 in Vilafranca del Penedes Spain, to a
simple hard-working family. Because of her talent, she was sent to a
boarding school in Barcelona, where she completed her formation while
maintaining a life of solitude, prayer and piety.
She then joined a group of 12 young women under the direction of Fr
Juan Bonal, who administered Our Lady of Grace Hospital in Zaragoza.
The small community formed an apostolic association dedicated to
serving the most helpless: the sick, the mentally ill, abandoned
children and all types of disabled people.
At the age of 23 she was appointed superior of the group, a task
requiring heroic effort, since she often had to confront a hostile
atmosphere created by some of the hospital employees. During the
Napoleonic wars she laboured in the bombed ruins, endangering her life
to save the sick and the children. She even ventured into the enemy
camp to plead with the French general for help with the sick and
She struggled tirelessly for the approval of her small community.
Finally in 1825 they took their first public vows. The victim of
calumny, she was imprisoned during the Carlist War, but later
released; she spent her remaining years at her Foundling Home. She
died on 30 August 1853 at the age of 72.
BL. ALBERTO HURTADO CRUCHAGA
was born in Vina del Mar, Chile, on 22 January 1901. His father died
when he was four and the family was impoverished.
He received a scholarship to the Jesuit College in Santiago, where he
developed a lively interest in the poor, spending time with them in
the most miserable neighbourhoods every Sunday afternoon.
In 1923 he entered the Jesuit novitiate and was ordained a priest in
1933. He taught religion at Colegio San Ignacio and pedagogy at the
Catholic University of Santiago. He frequently gave retreats to young
men, guiding several to the priesthood and contributing to the
formation of many others as outstanding Christian laymen.
In 1941 he published his famous book, Is Chile a Catholic Country?,
and was asked that same year to serve as chaplain to the youth
movement of Catholic Action, first within the Archdiocese of Santiago
and then at the national level. He carried out these tasks with
exceptional dedication and sacrifice.
In 1944, while giving a retreat, he felt impelled to ask his audience
to consider the many poor people of the city, especially the numerous
homeless children who roamed the streets of Santiago. This request
received a generous response and was the beginning of the initiative
for which Fr Hurtado is especially well-known: the "El Hagar de Cristo",
a charitable work that provides not only housing but a home-like
atmosphere for the homeless.
With the help of benefactors and committed lay people, he opened a
house for children and then similar ones for women and men. The homes
multiplied: some were rehabilitation centres, others trade schools,
In 1945 Fr Hurtado visited the USA to study the "Boys Town" movement
and to consider how it could be adapted to his own country. The last
six years of his life were devoted to developing various forms of "El
In 1947 Fr Hurtado founded the Chilean Trade Union Association (ASICH)
to promote a union movement based on the Church's social teaching.
Between 1947 and 1950 he wrote three important works on trade unions,
social humanism and the Christian social order. In 1951 he founded the
journal Mensaje, dedicated to explaining the Church's teaching.
Pancreatic cancer brought him, within a few months, to the end of his
life. In the midst of terrible pain, he was often heard to say: "I am
After having spent his life manifesting Christ's love for the poor, Fr
Hurtado was called to the Lord on 18 August 1952. He accomplished all
the works described above in the 15 years between his tertianship and
his death at the age of 51.
BL. NICOLAS ROLAND
was born in Reims, France, in 1642. At a tender age his parents
instilled in him a love for God and the poor, and entrusted him to the
Jesuits for his education.
He excelled in his studies and his family connections assured him a
successful business career, but at the age of 18 he decided to study
for the priesthood. He was given a well-endowed canonry before being
ordained a deacon and was highly regarded as a preacher, but realized
that his elegant style reached few of the faithful. He decided to
establish free schools for the Christian education of girls.
After receiving priestly ordination, he went to Rouen where he
received spiritual direction from the curate of Saint-Amand and lived
in complete poverty. He also met Fr Nicolas Barre, an exemplary Minim,
who had collected a group of men and women who worked in free schools
located in several neighbourhoods of the city. He returned to Reims
with the intention of starting similar projects there.
A poorly maintained orphanage was entrusted to him and he gradually
transformed it into a real school. Young girls, frequently of unknown
parentage, were welcomed into a warm atmosphere and educated. Fr Barre
sent him two teachers from charitable schools in Rouen, who were
accustomed to living in community and wanted to consecrate themselves
totally to God. Thus began an intense religious life connected with
apostolic activity. The Sisters of the Infant Jesus were founded in
Reims. Their name suggests that the spirit of childhood is the
quickest and simplest way to find God and to open one's heart to
Some mean-spirited critics rebuked the sisters, maintaining that
teaching Christian doctrine was reserved to priests. But Archbishop Le
Tellier of Reims was convinced by the founder's arguments and so their
work was extended to four sectors of the city.
Fr Roland next thought of boys, but for this task he turned to his
disciple, John Baptist de la Salle. The seed would later sprout, but
first the sower had to die. In fact, the future founder of the
Brothers of the Christian Schools did not feel particularly attracted
by this kind of apostolate and it took providential events to convince
him of its necessity.
On his deathbed, Fr Roland asked his friend to see that the Sisters of
the Infant Jesus were officially approved and entrusted the community
to him. He died of fatigue and overwork on 27 April 1678 at the age of
On 9 May 1678, Fr de la Salle and Archbishop Le Tellier received the
king's approval for the community and the sisters took their first
vows in 1684.
BL. PETRA of ST JOSEPH PEREZ FLORIDO
was born on 7 December 1845 to a Christian family in Malaga, Spain.
From her early years she felt called by God to prayer and to belonging
totally to him. I thought about nothing else but becoming a nun, she
would later say, "and I was consumed by this longing". She practised
charity towards the poor. "When they asked for something and were
given nothing, I felt as grieved as they were".
While still in secular life she started begging on behalf of the
destitute, after having overcome her father's strong opposition thanks
to the intercession of St Joseph. Soon three young girls joined her,
attracted by her simple and joyful way of living out charity.
With the approval of the Bishop of Malaga, she founded the
Congregation of the Mothers of the Helpless and of St Joseph of the
Mountain in 1880. In fact, it was the Bishop who named them "Mothers
of the Helpless" because of the way they treated the poor. Amid many
trials, the congregation grew and new homes were opened.
In 1895 she started working on the Royal Sanctuary of St Joseph of the
Mountain in Barcelona, known as the "Montana Pelada". The Church was
dedicated in 1901.
She lived her faith deeply and her delicate charity led her to be
available to serve those in need, like a caring mother. She died,
serene and full of love, on 16 August 1906 in Barcelona.
BL. JOSEPHINE VANNINI
was born in Rome, Italy, on 7 July 1859 and lost her parents as a
small child. She was raised in the Torlonia Conservatory on Via
Sant'Onofrio, under the guidance of the Daughters of Charity of St
Vincent de Paul. She entered the Daughters' novitiate in Siena, but
was forced to leave because of poor health. While on retreat in 1891
she met Fr Luigi Tezza, procurator general of the Camillians. For some
time he had been thinking of founding a women's community, which would
be consecrated to God for the care of the sick. Moved by divine grace,
he invited her to join him in establishing the new community. She
thought about it, prayed and sought advice; then in characteristic
fashion she gave him a decisive "yes".
In 1892, the Servant of God and two companions received the scapular
of Camillian tertiaries. One year later they professed private vows,
adding a fourth vow of service to the sick, even at the risk of their
own lives. They made their perpetual profession as Daughters of St
Camillus in 1895 and Josephine was elected Superior General.
In 1900 Fr Tezza was sent to Lima, and so responsibility for the new
congregation rested in the hands of Mother Vannini. The congregation
continued to grow and spread to France, Belgium and Argentina. On the
night of 23 February 1911, Josephine Vannini went serenely to meet the
Lord she had served in the poor and sick.
24 April 1994
BL. ISIDORE BAKANJA
, one of "the least brothers" of Jesus, was born in northeast Zaire
(then, Belgian Congo) sometime between 1885 and 1890. His baptismal
record is the first document about him, as he was attracted to Christ
when he was about 18 years of age, working for white colonizers as an
assistant mason. He never forgot the lessons taught him by the
Trappist missionaries from Westmalle Abbey in Belgium: a follower of
Jesus should be characterized by prayer and witness. He should be
recognized by the rosary and scapular (Mary's habit, as it was
rendered in Isidore's native tongue).
Mild, honest, respectful by nature, Isidore worked conscientiously and
prayed faithfully, as many non-Christian witnesses attested. Often
with rosary in hand, he looked for opportunities to share his
new-found faith with others, to the extent that many thought of him as
a catechist. He definitively left his native village because there
were no fellow followers of Christ there. In a larger settlement, he
found employment with the agent of a Belgian company that controlled
the rubber plantations in the region. He was hired as a domestic boy.
Many of the agents were avowed atheists, who hated the missionaries
because of the latter's defence of the natives' rights and their
denouncing of injustices perpetrated against them. "Mon pere" was a
pejorative name given to priests and to all that had to do with
Isidore soon experienced the hatred of the agents for Catholicism. He
asked for leave to return home; permission was refused. He was told to
stop teaching his fellow workers how to pray: "You'll have the whole
village praying and no one will want to work", one agent shouted at
Isidore was told to discard his scapular. When he did not, he was
twice flogged. The second time, the agent flew into one of his rages.
He jumped at Isidore, tore the scapular from around his neck and threw
him to the ground. He had two servant boys hold Isidore by his hands
and feet and a third domestic flogged him. The whip was made of
elephant hide with nails protruding at the end. The writhing Isidore
asked for mercy. "My God, I'm dying", he muttered. But the colonizer
kept kicking Isidore in the neck and head, and ordered his domestic to
scourge him harder still. After 100, those assisting lost count of the
number of blows. Isidore's back was one open wound; some of his bones
were exposed. After scourging he was thrown, legs chained, into a hut
for processing rubber. He could not even move to relieve himself.
Since an inspector was due, Isidore was banished to another village.
But because he could not walk, he fell by the wayside and hid in the
forest. He dragged himself before the inspector, who was horrified at
the sight of this modern Job. The inspector himself left a written
account of his impression: "I saw a man come from the forest with his
back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with
filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get
near me -he wasn't walking; he was dragging himself". The agent
appeared on the scene and tried to kill "that animal of mon pere", but
the inspector even physically prevented him. He took Isidore to his
own settlement, hoping to help him heal. But Isidore felt death in his
bones. He told someone who had pity on him: "if you see my mother, or
if you go to the judge, or if you meet the priest, tell them that I am
dying because I am a Christian".
Two missionaries spent several days with him. He devoutly received the
last sacraments. He told them the reason for his beating: "The white
man did not like Christians.... He did not want me to wear the
scapular.... He yelled at me when I said my prayers". The missionaries
urged Isidore to forgive the agent; he assured them that he had
already done so and that he nursed no hatred for him. This "animal of
mon pere", this convert of two-and-a-half years proved that he knew
what it meant to follow Jesus - even to the point of being flogged
like him, even to the point of carrying the cross, even to the point
of dying. The missionaries urged Isidore to pray for the agent.
"Certainly I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for
him very much".
His agony - more painful than the actual flogging - lasted six months.
He died on either 8 or 15 august 1909, rosary in hand and the scapular
of Our Lady of Mt Carmel around his neck.
BL. ELIZABETH CANORI MORA
was born in Rome on 21 November 1774 to Tommaso and Teresa Primoli.
Her family was well-off, profoundly Christian and diligent in the
education of their children.
Elizabeth studied with the Augustinian Sisters of Cascia (1785-88),
where she was noted for her intelligence, profound interior life and
spirit of penance. Returning to Rome, she led a remarkable life for
some years and in 1796 married Cristoforo Mora, a young lawyer.
Matrimony for her was a thoughtful, mature decision, but after some
months, the psychological fragility of Cristoforo compromised the
serenity of the family. Attracted by a woman of simple status, he
deceived his wife and estranged himself from the family, reducing it
To the physical and psychological violence of her husband, Elizabeth
responded with absolute fidelity. There are no excuses, conveniences
or interests that can justify any detraction whatsoever to the code of
fidelity which is of love and of total surrender.
In 1801 a mysterious illness brought her to death's door. She was
cured in an inexplicable way and had her first mystical experience.
She was the mother of four children, of whom the first two died a few
days after birth. Forced to make a living working with her hands, she
continued to care for her daughters, Marianna and Luciana, and the
daily chores of the home with utmost care. She also dedicated much
time to prayer, the poor and the sick.
Her home soon became a reference point for many people who turned to
her for material and spiritual help. She devoted special care to
families in need. For her, family meant a place for each person, a
place of fruitfulness and life, of faith, solidarity and
responsibility. It was the temple in which she welcomed the "beloved
Lord, Jesus of Nazareth" and all those who turned to her. Through
self-denial, Elizabeth offered her life for the peace and holiness of
the Church, her husband's conversion and the salvation of sinners.
In 1807 Elizabeth joined the Trinitarian Third Order. She came to know
and understand profoundly the spirituality of the Trinitarians,
responding with dedication to the vocation of the family and secular
consecration. Her admirable human and Christian virtues and the fame
of her holiness spread through Rome, Albano and Marino, where she was
popularly known as "the saint".
On 5 February 1825, while being cared for by her two daughters,
Elizabeth died, entering gently into the light of the Holy Trinity.
She is buried in Rome in the Trinitarian church of San Carlino alle
Quattro Fontane. Shortly after her death, as she had predicted, her
husband converted, joined the Trinitarian Third Order and later became
a priest of the Conventual Franciscans. He died on 9 September 1845
and is buried in the Conventual Franciscans' church in Sezze.
BL. GIANNA BERETTA MOLLA
was born in Magenta (Milan), Italy, on 4 October 1922, the 10th of 13
children. Already as a young girl she willingly accepted the gift of
faith and the clearly Christian education that she received from her
excellent parents. As a result, she experienced life as a marvellous
gift from God, had a strong faith in Providence and was convinced of
the necessity and effectiveness of prayer.
She diligently dedicated herself to studies during the years of her
secondary and university education, while, at the same time, applying
her faith in generous apostolic service among the elderly and needy as
a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society. After earning degrees in
medicine and surgery, from the University of Pavia in 1949, she opened
a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta) in 1950. She specialized in
pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and thereafter gave
special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and the poor.
While working in the field of medicine - which she considered a
"mission" and practised as such - she increased her generous service
to Catholic Action, especially among the "very young" and, at the same
time, expressed her joie de vivre and love of creation through skiing
and mountaineering. Through her prayers and those of others, she
reflected on her vocation, which she also considered a gift from God.
Having chosen the vocation of marriage, she embraced it with complete
enthusiasm and wholly dedicated herself "to forming a truly Christian
She became engaged to Pietro Molla and was radiant with joy and
happiness during the time of their engagement, for which she thanked
and praised the Lord. They were married on 24 September 1955 in St
Martin's Basilica in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. In November
1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi; in
December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and
equilibrium she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor and her
passion for life.
In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy,
she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had
developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical
operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy
brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child
she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The
life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven
months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength
of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and
doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain,
and she asked God to prevent that.
A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in
Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of
her child: "if you must decide between me and the child, do not
hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save the baby". On the
morning of 21 April 1962 Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts
and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of 28 April, amid
unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of "Jesus, I love
you. Jesus, I love you", the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her
funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The body
of the body of the newly blessed lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km.
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