BL. MARIA RAFFAELLA CIMATTI


Memorial : 23 June

BL. MARIA RAFFAELLA CIMATTI was born into a humble family on 6 June 1861, in Celle di Faenza, Ravenna, Italy. Of her five brothers, the two who survived became priests and also died in the odour of sanctity.

After her father's death in 1882, she took on the education of her brothers, and was also a parish catechist. When her parish priest became aware of her intelligence and sweet nature, he gave her the sacrament of Confirmation at the age of 7.

She had felt attracted to the religious life for some time but was obliged to wait patiently and help her mother and brothers. After they had both joined Don Bosco's new congregation, and her mother had been taken in by the rectory, she was finally free to follow her vocation. In Faenza she had worked with youth; in Rome, where in 1889 she was officially admitted to the Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy, she dedicated herself to the sick.

She took the veil in 1890 with the name "Maria Raffaella" and made her first religious profession in 1891, taking in addition the vow of hospitallity. She was then sent to Alatri as a pharmacist's assistant, and later to Frosinone. She took her final vows in 1905. In 1921 she became superior of the house in Frosinone, and in 1928, of that in Alatri.

She was a mother, sister, friend and counsellor, always ready to help and a pattern of every virtue. In 1940, after 50 years of religious life she resigned her position as superior but asked to remain in the Alatri community as an ordinary religious, serving her sisters, the sick and the hospital staff, and devoting more time to prayer.

In 1944, while the Second World War was raging, there were many wounded to be nursed and, although she was 83, Sr Raffaella spread such comfort and love among them that they called her "mamma".

She successfully protested in person to General Kesserling at the German headquarters in Alatri when she heard a rumor that to halt the Allied Forces Alatri would have to be massively bombed. The general changed his plans and Alatri was spared.

Sr Raffaella died on 23 June 1945, leaving the memory of her saintly life and heroic virtues. The cause for her canonization was begun in 1962. In 1988-89 the last process attributed to her intercession Loreto Arduini's miraculous recovery from "viral encephalitis, convulsions and breathing failure". This led to the promulgation of the decree for her beatification by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 1993.


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