St.Virginia Centurione Bracelli
Virginia Centurione, Bracelli widow, was born on April 2, 1587 in Genoa (Italy). She was the daughter of George Centurione, Doge of the Republic in the year 1621-1622, and Lelia Spinola, both descendants of ancient noble families. Baptized two days later, received her first religious and literary formation of his mother and a tutor.
Although since his teens expressed an inclination to the life of the cloister, had to accept the decision of his father, who wanted to marry, on 10 December 1602, with Grimaldi Bracelli Gaspar, a young wealthy heir of an illustrious family, but inclined to a disorderly life and gambling addiction. She gave birth to two daughters: Lelia and Isabella.
Virginia married life was short lived. Gaspar Bracelli, however the marriage and parenthood, did not abandon his dissipated lifestyle, to the point of endangering its own existence. Virginia, with her great patience, prayer and affection, tried to convince her husband to undertake a modest life. Unfortunately, Gaspar was sick, but Christian died on June 13, 1607 in Alessandria, assisted by his wife, who had moved there to heal him.
Now a widow with only 20 years, Virginia took a vow of perpetual chastity, dismissing the chances of remarriage, as suggested by his father, and she lived in retirement at his mother-in to apply to education and property management their children and dedicating herself to prayer and charity.
In 1610 she clearly felt the special vocation "to serve God through the poor". Although she was strictly controlled by her father, without ever neglecting the care of his family, he began working for the needy. She personally helped distributing in alms half of her wealth, or through charitable institutions of that time.
Once conveniently placed their daughters in marriage, Virginia was entirely devoted to the care of abandoned kids, the elderly and the sick, and promotion of the marginalized.
The war between the Republic of Genoa and the Duke of Savoy, supported by France, increasing unemployment and hunger, led Virginia in the winter of 1624-1625, to welcome at home, first to fifteen young abandoned, then by increasing the number of fugitives in the city, to the poor as he could, especially women, providing all your needs.
After the death of her mother-in August of 1625, not only began to accept girls who came spontaneously, but she herself went through the city, especially the most notorious neighborhoods in search of more need and who were in danger of corruption.
In order to meet the growing poverty, led to the Hundred Ladies of Mercy protective of the Poor of Jesus Christ, an association which, in conjunction with the local chapter of the "Eight Ladies of Mercy," had the specific task of check directly, through home visits, the needs of the poor, especially if they were paupers.
To intensify the initiative of hosting the young, especially during times of plague and famine in 1629-1630, Virginia was forced to take on lease the empty convent of Monte, where he moved on April 14 in 1631 with her beneficiaries, which came under the protection of Our Lady of Refuge. Three years after the Work already had three houses in which lived about 300 acogidas.Por that Virginia saw fit to ask for official recognition to the Senate, which he gave on 13 December 1635.
The beneficiaries of Our Lady of Refuge became for Santa in his "daughters" par excellence, with whom she shared the food and clothing, and taught them catechism and train them to work for that earned their own livelihood.
Intending to give the work its own office, having renounced the acquisition of Montecalvario because its too expensive, he bought two adjacent houses on the hill of Carignano, who, with the construction of a new annex of the church dedicated to Our Lady of Refuge, became the mother house of the Work.
The spirit that animated the institution founded by Virginia Bracelli was generally presented in the Rule compiled in the years 1644-1650. It is confirmed that all houses are the only Institution of Our Lady of Refuge, under the direction and administration of the Protectors (lay nobleman appointed by the Senate), reaffirming the division between the "daughters" with habit and "daughters" habit, but all must live - even if not votes - such as more observant nuns in obedience and poverty, working and praying, they also must be willing to go to serve in public hospitals as if they were forced through a vote.
Over time, the Institution is divided into two religious congregations: the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Calvary Refuge and the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary.
Following the appointment of the Protectors (July 3, 1641), who were considered the real top of the Work, Virginia disengaged herself more in the government of the house she was subject to his will and follow their rules, even in the acceptance of any youth in need. She lived as the last of his "daughter", dedicated to serving the house, went out in morning and afternoon to beg for the sustenance of the house. She cared for a mother to everyone, especially the sick, giving them more humble.
Already in previous years had started a healing social action, designed to cure the roots of evil and in relapse prevention: the sick and disabled were hospitalized in the Institute of for them, the men were sent on work initiated the women were exercising at the looms and doing sewing work and the children were obliged to go to school.
Growing up activities and the efforts, Virginia declined around the number of partners, especially middle and upper class women, who feared compromising their reputation in dealing with corrupt people following a guide, albeit noble and holy appreciates a little reckless in their companies.
Abandoned by the Auxiliary, in fact overruled by the protectors in the government of his work, and occupying the last place among the sisters in the house of Carignano, while his physical health was weakening rapidly, Virginia seemed to find new strength in solitude moral.
On March 25, 1637 that the Republic would get to the Virgin Mary as protector. She pleaded to the Archbishop of the city the institution of the Forty Hours, which began in Genoa at the end of 1642, and the preaching of parish missions (1643). She intervened to settle the frequent and bloody rivalries that, for trivial matters, arising between the noble families and knights. In 1647 she achieved the reconciliation between the Archbishop and the Government of the Republic, battling each other for pure prestiges issues never lose sight of the most abandoned, he was always available, regardless of social rank, for any who turned to her for help.
Enriched by the Lord with ecstasy, visions, locutions and other special mystical gifts, gave up his spirit to the Lord on December 15, 1651 at the age of 64.
The Pope John Paul II proclaimed her blessed, during his apostolic trip to Genoa, 22 September 1985, the same pope canonized in the Vatican Basilica on 18 May 2003.
she is one of the incorruptables.
Father may the life of your holy daugter
Virginia be to us a way of life to follow
may we follow her example so we to become saints.
We ask this through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns
with you and the holy spirit on GOD forever and ever.