Saint Maria de Mattias

Born to a pious and educated upper class family. Though women of her day were forbidden a formal education, she learned to read and write, and much about her faith at home from her father. Being an upper class girl of the time, she grew up isolated and self-involved, but in her mid-teens she felt the hollowness of her life, and began to search for more meaning. She prayed for enlightment and received a mystical vision that led her to leave home and wander the roads, explaining the love of God to any who would listen.

At age 17 she attended a mission preached by Saint Gaspare de Bufalo, and saw the obvious changes to people who attended. She wanted to have the same effect, and with the aid of Venerable Giovanni Merlini she founded the Congregation of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Acuto, Italy on 4 March 1834, a woman's congregation for teaching girls. She expanded their work to teaching andcatechizing women and boys. Though, due to the social mores of the time she was not allowed to speak to men, they would often gather on their own, sometimes in hiding, to listen to her teaching. Pope Pius IX assigned her to running the San Luigi Hospice in Rome, and from there she worked to expand theAdorers. The congregation experienced occasional opposition from the clergy, but always support from the laity; they ran 70 schools by Mary's death, most in small isolated towns, and over 400 by her beatification.