Blessed Maria Schininà (1844-1910)

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Wednesday 19, December 2007 | Category:   Consecrated Life

Blessed Maria Schininà

About Me: Blessed Maria Schininà was born in Ragusa, Italy in 1844 to noble parents. Maria, the fifth of eight children, lived her days of infancy and adolescence surrounded by the care and attention of her parents and brothers.

Until the age of 21 Maria was no more than a carefree girl born of a wealthy family. Her intense and happy life alternated between religious duties she carried out with her family and her love for beauty, which she continuously perfected through music, fashion, and above all dancing. Maria never displayed any particular spiritual inclinations, even if she inherited her parents’ sensitivity towards the poor and the needy.

The death of her father in 1865 induced her to change her life, which she often declared did not satisfy her inner needs. Her soul could no longer ignore the cries of the poor who were living only steps away from her home. Her comfortable lifestyle was too much of a contrast to the misery just outside her door. It was for this reason that Maria began to look into herself, enlightened by faith and God’s calling which became ever clearer at the feet of the Eucharist. These were years of deep reflection.

In 1874 her youngest brother got married, leaving her and her mother alone. This turn of events posed no obstacle to her. She took off her elegant clothes and dressed like the poor, saying: “Let that which served my vanity go to the poor.”

From this moment on she decided to dedicate herself completely to the sick, the poor, and the outcasts who languished in the most squalid hovels in Ragusa, and to abandoned children, without paying attention to the criticisms from people of her social class who thought she was insane. Everything she did was suggested to her by her love for the Eucharist, which would constitute a fundamental characteristic of her life she would pass on to her spiritual daughters.

My Vision: Maria made herself poor to serve the poor, to cure in them “the suffering members of Jesus’ body.” Her life definitely took a new course. She started to participate in various humanitarian and charitable initiatives.

In 1877, after being elected directress of the new Pia Unione delle Figlie di Maria, she was able to attract young people in Ragusa, becoming a living example of how to carry out a “true social revolution” in the light of the gospel. A voice she heard one day while praying before the image of the Sacred Heart told her to obey the “ministers of the church.” This revelation brought her to renounce the monastic life and found an institute, following the advice of the archbishop. This institute would give material and spiritual aid to the poor and the needy in her city.

She loved Christ in the poor. “Love and reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus” meant for Maria Schininà an offering of herself by serving those who are poor and marginalized. She called the new congregation the Institute of the Sacred Heart. This congregation continues to serve the poor in different parts of the world: Italy, the United States, Canada, Madagascar, the Philippines, Nigeria, Romania, India, Panama, and recently France.

I Belong to: The Institute of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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