Maria de Mattias (1805-1866)

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Wednesday 22, August 2007 | Category:   Consecrated Life

About me: Maria de Mattias was born on February 4, 1805 in Vallecorsa, a small village in the mountains of

Maria de Mattias,
Foundress of the the Adorers

central Italy, about 50 miles southeast of Rome. Her father, Giovanni de Mattias, came from a prominent and well-to-do family in the village.

At that time the Italian kingdoms and republics were in constant conflict with one another. Those who were on the run hid out in the mountains around Vallecorsa and preyed on the villagers and peasants. Unemployed young men from the town were attracted to these bandit gangs. Their way of life may have had an influence on Maria’s devotion to the Blood of Christ, rather than the bandits' blood of violence.

Maria was a lively, creative, and energetic child. Women of her day were forbidden a formal education, so she taught herself to read and write; she received much of her religious education from her father. Being an upper-class girl of the time, she grew up isolated and a bit self-absorbed, but in her mid-teens she felt the hollowness of her life and began to search for more meaning. One day when she was looking at herself in the mirror, she felt her gaze drawn to an image of the Virgin Mary. She felt that Mary was calling her to something more.

At age 17 she attended a mission preached by Saint Gaspare de Bufalo, a Missionary of the Precious Blood, an existing religious community. His preaching on the love of God, poured out in the blood of Jesus, touched Maria deeply. She felt that Gaspar's invitation to imitate Jesus by giving one's life for one’s brothers and sisters, especially the poor, was addressed directly to her.

In 1834, at age 29, Maria founded the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Acuto, Italy. To her, the greatest mark of God's love for us is the blood his Son shed on the cross. Maria poured every ounce of her energy into shaping her religious community. She traveled widely—on donkey, on foot, by carriage—on treacherous mountain paths in all kinds of weather. She gave up monetary comforts and food to better serve neighbors in need.

Maria was able to open about 70 communities during her lifetime, mostly in the towns of central Italy but also three in Germany and England and one in Rome, where Pope Pius IX called on her community to establish a presence.

My vision: Fueled by a fervent love of Christ, Maria made it her mission in life to help people release the creative power within them to serve God and neighbor. She reached out to those in need, especially women and children, offering practical aid while guiding them to stronger faith lives.

Maria empowered people by carrying out various roles: as a talented teacher, a prolific letter-writer, an impassioned preacher, a compassionate listener, a patient diplomat, a creative collaborator, a resourceful problem-solver, and an untiring advocate. She laced every pursuit with prayer. "Pray much," she said. "Be of good heart and have unbounded confidence in God." It was an exhortation she practiced faithfully.

Maria had a profound love for God and remarkable ability to enable others to use their talents and gifts to build up God's Kingdom on earth.

I belong to: The Adorers of the Blood of Christ

Feast day: February 4

 

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