BLESSED MARIA ADEODATA PISANI (1806-1855), virgin and religious
Today, the Church honors Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani, who lived a serene and quiet life of self-denial, humility and charity after experiencing a very tumultuous youth.
Maria was born in Naples, Italy on December 29, 1806, and was baptized Maria Teresa. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother abandoned the marriage, leaving Maria with her husband’s mother. Maria was ten years old when her grandmother died, after which she was sent to a boarding school until she was seventeen. In 1821, Maria’s father was deported to the island of Malta due to his involvement in an uprising in Naples.
In 1825, Maria, now together with her mother, moved to Rabat, near where her father was living, but they never lived together. Maria declined several marriage proposals, preferring to lead a quiet life of prayer. She joined the Benedictine Community in Saint Peter’s Monastery in Mdina, Malta in 1828, and took the name Maria Adeodata. She made her solemn profession of vows two years later.
Her fellow nuns and many people outside the cloister benefited from her acts of charity and saintly life. She looked after the chapel and was a porter, which kept her close to the poor who came seeking help. She wrote various works, the most famous titled The Mystical Garden of the Soul that Loves Jesus and Mary, which is a collection of her personal reflections written between 1835 and 1843.
For four years, she was in charge of novices, and, from 1851 to 1853, she was elected as abbess of her religious community. Sister Maria was renowned for her spirit of self-sacrifice and self-denial. The best she had, whether food or clothes, were always given to those in need, while she was happy to live on leftovers and worn out clothes.
During the last two years of her life, heart trouble slowly eroded her health. Yet, in spite of this, she continued to force herself to live a normal life within her community, always striving for perfection and leading others through her example.
On February 25, 1855, at the age of 48, in very poor health and against her nurse’s advice, Sister Maria forced herself to enter the chapel for daily Mass. After receiving Communion, she had to be carried back to her bed, where she died soon afterwards surrounded by her community reciting prayers.
As soon as news of her death reached the people outside the monastery, the same phrase was repeated throughout Malta – “The saint has died!” She had a simple funeral and was buried in the monastery’s crypt the following day.
Maria Adeodata was beatified on May 9, 2001, by Pope St. John Paul II.
We honor her feastday on February 25.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, ewtn.com/footsteps and acatholicview.blogspot.com)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Holy Women ~ religious)
“Lord God, You kept Blessed Maria Adeodata faithful to Christ’s pattern of poverty and humility. May her prayers help us to live in fidelity to our calling and bring us to the perfection You have shown us in Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”