St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
St. Maria Guiseppa Rosello was born Benedetta Rosello on 27 May 1811 in Albissola Marina, Italy. She came from a poor family of nine children and was the fourth child. Her father Bartolomeo Rossello worked as a potter while her mother Maria Dedone took care of the children. Though she suffered from poor health as a child, she also helped her parents by taking care of her siblings. After the death of her mother, second brother, sister Josephine and her father, Benedetta became the support system of her family, both financially and emotionally.
Pious from an early age, Benedetta attempted to join a religious order, but she was denied admission because of her poor health and lack of dowry. However, the pious family she was working for, could have given her a dowry, but they did not because of fear of losing her as a member of the family. They were childless and had an intention of adopting her. Her devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christianity facilitated her to become a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, at the tender age of sixteen.
Benedetta and Bishop De Mari
Bishop De Mari of Savona yearned to find a generous person to take care of neglected children. He thought aloud as he approached a group of girls playing on the street. When Benedetta heard these thoughts, she immediately offered to assist the Bishop. Quickly, Bishop De Mari could see that the young woman had a generous and charitable heart. He considered her a truly apostolic, God sent woman destined for great work.
De Mari gave Benedetta and her three co-workers a small house in the city of Savona situated in a street called Vico del Vento. On 10 August 1837, the foundation of the Conservatory of the Sisters of Mercy and Saint John the Baptist was established. Working with the poor and uneducated, Benedetta became the Mistress of Novices. She also had a responsibility in the financial department of the institute, as a treasurer.
Bishop De Mari presented to each young woman a religious habit. He also changed their names to symbolize their commitment to serving God in all capacities. Benedetta was named Sister Maria Giuseppa otherwise known as Sister Maria Joseph because Saint Joseph was going to be her protector, provider, and father throughout her life. The Sisters in their commitment to God took three vows which were poverty, chastity, and obedience. The institute was named officially, the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy and the Sisters dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the work of God.
In its service to God, the institute educated the youth, took care of the sick, and did all the works of mercy. The Sisters offered their services in parishes, hospitals, and schools. In 1840, Maria Giuseppa was appointed Superior General of the order and she served in the office for forty years. After drafting the Rule of Life of the institute, Bishop DeMari died on 14 December 1840.
The Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy experienced rapid growth all over Italy and South America was not left out. In 1875, 15 Sisters were sent to the Argentine city of Buenos Aires where their influence spread to such an extent that foundations were established in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Peru. In the present day, the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy is firmly established in 19 countries on five continents. These are Africa, Caribbean Islands, North and South America, Italy, India, Germany and Romania.
Death of St. Maria Giuseppa
She died on 7 December 1880 due to heart complications posed by her strenuous work. She was 69 years old. She was buried in Savona at local cemetery. Her Feast Day celebrations are held on 7 December.
Canonization and Patronage
Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria Giuseppa on 12 June 1949 at Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City. St. Maria Giuseppa is the patron saint of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy institute. She is also a patron of Potter.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
- After her remains were buried in Savona, they were re-interred into the motherhouse chapel in 1887.
- Her remains were moved in 1917 to her order’s new motherhouse grounds.
- When her body was exhumed it was still intact with no sign of decomposition.
- Her heart was surgically removed at the request of her order who wanted to keep it at the old motherhouse as a relic from their saint founder.
- Her heart was still incorruptible and it still gave out blood.
Prayer to St. Maria Giuseppe Rossello
Saint Mary Joseph Rossello, pray for us!