Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Saturday, October 20, 2007

St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin, Pray for Us

Born Anna Francesca Boscardin at Brendola, Veneto, St. Maria Bertilla was a member of a peasant family. Her father, Angelo Boscardin, would testify during her beatification process that he was jealous, violent, and frequently drunk. As a child she could only attend school irregularly, as she was needed to help at home and in the fields. When she did attend school she also worked as a servant in a nearby home. She did not display any particular talents, was thought to be not particularly intelligent, and was often the target of insulting jokes. These included being referred to as a "goose" for her slowness by a local clergyman.

After being rejected for admission to one order because of her slowness, she was accepted as a member of the Teachers of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart at Vicenza in 1904, taking the name "Maria Bertilla". She herself internalized some of her earlier criticism, telling the novice-mistress of the order, "I can't do anything. I'm a poor thing, a goose. Teach me. I want to be a saint." She worked there as a kitchen maid and laundress for three years.

She was then sent to Treviso to learn nursing at the municipal hospital there, which was under the direction of her order. During her training period, she was once placed to work in the kitchen. However, upon completing her training, she was promoted to working with victims of diphtheria in the hospital's children's ward. During the air raids of Treviso following the disastrous Battle of Caporetto, the hospital fell under the control of the military. Sister Bertilla was noted for her unwavering care of the her patients, particularly those who were too ill to be moved to safety.

This devotion to duty attracted the attention of the authorities of a local military hospital. However, her superioress did not appreciate Sister Bertilla's work and reassigned her to work in the laundry, a position she remained in for four months until being reassigned by a more perceptive, higher superior, who put Sister Bertilla in charge of the children's isolation ward at the hospital. Shortly thereafter, Sister Bertilla's already poor health got worse. A painful tumor which she had had for several years had progressed to the point of requiring an operation, which she did not survive.

Her reputation for simplicity and devoted, caring hard work had left a deep impression on those who knew her. A memorial plaque placed on her tomb refers to her as "a chosen soul of heroic goodness ... an angelic alleviator of human suffering in this place." Crowds flocked to her first grave at Treviso. After a tomb was erected for her at Vicenza, it became a pilgrimage site where several miracles of healing were said to have taken place.

In 1961, 42 years after her death, she was canonized as a saint. The crowd in attendance included members of her family as well as some of her patients.

text from Wikipedia


  1. Thank you for such a lovely and inspiring story that God can take the unlovely places in our lives and make them places of such beauty--that even after our death--the Love of Jesus Christ continues to heal others. Today is her Saint Day and I thank Father God for her life!

  2. Thank you dear saint. The humble are truly God's children and you proved this virtue time and time again. Pray for us in your glorious home.

  3. I hadn't clicked on saint for the day in years. Yesterday--Oct. 20--something (God?) prompted me to do so. What a wonderful surprise I found---a dedicated pediatric nurse saint. I am a pediatric nurse---I sit shifts with children who have tracheostomies and are on ventilators and tube feedings in their homes. She's my new patron saint.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!