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Modern women on the path to sainthood lived motherhood in many different ways

Throughout the history of the Church, women have lived lives of holiness as physical and spiritual mothers. The Church honors women who had several children or few, women who worked outside the home or within, women who experienced miscarriages, women who had abortions, women who were mothers to religious communities and more.

This Mother’s Day, get to know some of the modern, holy women who lived out the call to motherhood in many different ways.

Blessed Maria Quattrocchi

Lived: 1884-1965 | Feast: Nov. 25

Bl. Maria Quattrocchi
Blessed Maria Quattrocchi was a mother of four who lived in Italy in the late 19th and early 20th century. She earned a college degree and worked as a professor. She married Luigi on Nov. 25, 1905, at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. The couple had four children and raised them to love Christ through ordinary life, which included Mass, the Rosary and First Friday holy hour alongside sports, vacations and hospitality to friends. Maria was an active part of the Italian Catholic Women’s Association and a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross during World War II. Luigi and Maria helped found one of the first scouting groups in Rome and also mentored other couples preparing for marriage.

The couple was beatified together by St. John Paul II on Oct. 21, 2001. They were the first married saints to be beatified together.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the time of their beatification, said that the Quattrocchis “made a true domestic church of their family, which was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity with the poor and to friendship.”

Resources on raising children in faith: Moms Transmit the Faith, a course hosted in parishes to increase mothers’ understanding of the Catholic faith to more effectively pass it on to their children: momstransmitthefaith.com.

Faith Alive in the Home, a parish-based program that accompanies parents of young children to encourage parents in their role as first teachers of the faith: faithaliveinthehome.org.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Lived: 1922-1962 | Feast: April 18

St. Gianna Beretta Molla
St. Gianna was a working mother in Italy in the 20th century. She became a pediatrician and married Pietro Molla at age 32, continuing her medical practice while raising children. After having their first three children, Gianna and Pietro experienced two miscarriages.

With three children on earth and two in heaven, Gianna became pregnant again. A fibroma was discovered in her uterus, and her doctors recommended a hysterectomy that would also end her unborn child’s life. Gianna instead chose to just have the fibroma removed. While the removal was successful, after Gianna Emanuela was born in April 1962, Gianna died of a post-operative infection.

St. Gianna was canonized by St. John Paul II on May 16, 2004.

Resources on miscarriage and loss: nfpgoodforlife.com/miscarriage-loss-resources-st-louis

Ven. Maria Luisa Josefa

Lived: 1866-1937

Ven. Maria Luisa Josefa
Maria Luisa de la Pena lived in Jalisco, Mexico, in the late 19th and early 20th century. At age 15, she married Pasqual Rojas, a prominent physician. After settling in their home, Maria Luisa devoted herself to caring for the poor and the sick, aided by her husband.

Although they longed for children, Maria Luisa and Pasqual were unable to conceive. They continued their dedication to the poor, opening a charitable hospital for children called the Hospital of the Sacred Heart.

After Pasqual died, Maria Luisa continued her work at the hospital and also established a school and an orphanage. She later founded the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. During religious persecution in Mexico, she came as a refugee to Long Beach, California, where she established a community of her sisters. She returned to Mexico two years later.

Maria Luisa Josefa was declared Venerable — the title given to a candidate for sainthood whose cause has not yet reached the beatification stage but whose heroic virtue has been declared by the pope — in 2000.

Resources on infertility: The archdiocesan Office of Natural Family Planning offers resources for couples experiencing infertility, including the Enkindle Infertility Ministry: archstl.org/natural-family-planning/infertility-and-adoption

Servant of God Dorothy Day

Lived: 1897-1980

Servant of God Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day is best known as the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, which opened its first houses of hospitality in New York. Before founding the Catholic Worker, Dorothy had an abortion, which she regretted, and also gave birth to a daughter, Tamar, while living in a common-law marriage. Tamar’s birth helped draw Dorothy to the Catholic Church, and both were baptized, prompting Tamar’s father to leave.

Dorothy raised Tamar as a single mother as she founded the Catholic Worker newspaper and opened the first Catholic Worker houses of hospitality. She also wrote and published six books, including a novel, a spiritual autobiography and memoirs.

There are now more than 200 Catholic Worker communities worldwide. In 2000, Dorothy was named a Servant of God, the first step toward canonization.

Resources on abortion healing: The archdiocesan Abortion Healing Ministry offers many different resources for women and men affected by abortion: archstl.org/respect-life-apostolate/hope-healing

Walking with Moms in Need: An initiative providing a resource and support network to pregnant and parenting mothers around the archdiocese:archstl.org/respect-life-apostolate/walking-with-moms

Venerable Mother Mary Lange

Lived: 1784-1882

Ven. Mother Mary Lange
Mother Mary Lange was a spiritual mother to Black children and others in Baltimore and mother of the religious community she founded, the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Born Elizabeth Lange in Cuba, she came to the United States in the early 1800s, where she settled in Baltimore. She opened her own home to educate children of color who were not receiving schooling elsewhere.

She founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence in 1829, the first religious order for Black women in the United States, taking the name Mother Mary. The order opened St. Frances Academy for girls, which remains today as the oldest continuously operating Catholic school for Black children in the United States.

Pope Francis declared her Venerable in 2023.

Read more on spiritual motherhood: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) wrote extensively on spiritual motherhood: oursundayvisitor.com/meet-the-great-saint-who-wrote-of-spiritual-motherhood

Resources on consecrated life: archstl.org/office-of-consecrated-life



>> A spiritual bouquet to our Blessed Mother

May is traditionally observed as a month dedicated to Mary, as well as the month in which we celebrate mothers through the observance of Mother’s Day. This activity seeks to lift up the many intentions laid on our hearts by the observance of Mother’s Day and offer them to our Blessed Mother during the month honoring her. It also provides a way to give thanks for her maternal love and care for us.

Materials:

Flowers or greenery, real or paper

Small note cards or slips of paper

Pens, crayons or markers

Small basket or other container

Vase of water (if using fresh flowers)

Statue, icon or image of the Blessed Mother

Directions:

1. Gather your materials. Look around your own yard for flowers or greenery that might be available, or pick some up at the store.

2. Set up a small table for your Marian spiritual bouquet. Place on the table your statue or image of Our Lady with a small basket for prayer intentions and a vase with water. Put writing utensils and paper or notecards nearby.

3. Pre-cut notecards or small slips of paper.

4. Invite household members to participate in the spiritual bouquet. Participants can write down what they would like to ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for. They can then be invited to place their prayer intentions in the basket, as well as to place their flowers in the vase in thanks for Our Lady’s maternal love and care.

5. When all participants have presented their prayer intentions and gifts to Our Lady, offer a closing prayer of your choosing.

6. Encourage family members to pray throughout the week for all the intercessions placed under the care of our Blessed Mother.

—United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Mother’s Day Action Guide


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