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Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu of Unity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 25 November 2007 22:24

I came across the name of Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu of Unity just now while reading Ut Unum Sint, 27.

She was beatified some years before I was Catholic and paying attention to things like that so perhaps that is why I have never heard of her but her story is interesting. (Obviously this is a translation from the original Italian)

"Witnesses from the period of her childhood and adolescence speak of a character obstinate, critical, protesting, rebellious, but with a strong sense of duty, of loyalty, of obedience: "She obeyed grumblingly, but she was docile". "She would say no but she would go at once", is said of her.

What everyone noticed was the change that came about in her at eighteen: little by little she became gentle, her outbursts of temper disappeared; she acquired a pensive and austere profile, sweet and reserved; the spirit of prayer and of charity grew in her, a new ecclesial and apostolic sensibility appeared; she enrolled in `Azione Cattolica', a catholic Youth Movement.

At twenty one she chose to consecrate herself to God and, following the guidance of her spiritual father, entered the (Trappistine) monastery of Grottaferrata, an economically and culturally poor community, governed at that time by Mother Pia Gullini."


Her abbess, M.M.Pia Gullini, had a great ecumenical awareness and desire. After taking it up in her own life, she had communicated it to the community too.

"When Mother M.Pia, animated by Fr. Couturier, explained to the community the request for prayer and offering for the great cause of Christian Unity, Sr. Maria Gabriella felt immediately involved and compelled to offer her young life. "I feel the Lord is calling me" - she confided to her abbess - "I feel urged, even when I don't want to think about it"

Tuberculosis showed itself in the body of the young sister, who up to now had been extremely healthy, from the very day of her offering, sweeping her along to her death in fifteen months of suffering. (Sr. Maria Gabriella died in 1939)

Her offering, even before its consummation, was received by the Anglican brethren and found a profound response in the hearts of believers of other confessions. The influx of vocations, who arrived in great numbers during the following years, is the most concrete gift of Sister Gabriella to her community.

Her body, found intact on the occasion of the recognition in 1957, now rests in a chapel adjoining the monastery of Vitorchiano, whence the community of Grottaferrata transferred.

She was beatified by John Paul II on 25 January 1983, forty-four years after her death, in the basilica of St.Paul outside the Walls, on the feast of the Conversion of St.Paul, the last day of the week of prayer for Christian Unity.

A bit of explanation from the same site:

"Mother M.Pia Gullini (1892-1959)was abbess of Grottaferrata from 1931 to 1940 and from 1946 to 1951. She governed the community with a discerning intelligence and nurtured in it an ever wider and deeper vision of spiritual life, placing the Eucharist as its center. She lived the passion for the Unity of the Church with a prophetic intensity and thus became the cause for the community's adherence to the ecumenical ideal. She directed and sustained the sacrifice of Sr. Maria Gabriella."

Another note:

In 1935 Abbé Paul Couturier, a Catholic priest in France, advocated a “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” during which Christians would pray together ‘for the unity Christ wills by the means He wills’. Mother M. Pia heard about it and proposed prayer for the untertaking to her community. Sr. Maria Gabriella made her offering in 1938 and died in 1939.

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