February 26, 2024
Psalm 56:3
February 26, 2024
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Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin (1888-1922), was a young woman who was greeted by rejection, ridicule and disappointment at every turn, but used such trials to grow closer to God and serve Him with simplicity, humility, and deep faith.

Born Anna Francesca Boscardin in Veneto, Italy, Maria was a member of a poor peasant family. Her father, by his own admission, was jealous, violent, and frequently drunk. Given the family’s poverty, Anna was required to assist in the fields, and could attend school only infrequently. As such, with no significant education, she remained illiterate, simple, and innocent, and was viewed by her peers and neighbors as mentally delayed. Anna was industrious throughout her youth, working for her father as well as working as a house servant for neighbors.

As she did not display any particular talents, she was thought to be not particularly intelligent, and was the frequent target of insulting jokes, ridicule, and abuse—from both adults and children alike. These included being referred to as a “goose” for her slowness by a local clergyman when she declared her intent to join a religious order and serve the Lord.

When Anna was able to attend school, neither her peers nor teachers paid her any positive attention. Despite instructions, sometimes she was unable to correct her homework and her schoolmates, with the cruelty of their age, never forgot to make her aware of the fact. “I really don’t mind,” she would answer humbly, not bearing any anger toward them.

Only once the teacher and her schoolmates remained uncomfortable before her, unable to mock her. During Holy Week the teacher told the class of the passion of Jesus and Anna, hearing the story, burst into tears heartbroken. She explained: “I am crying for the sufferings of the Lord, and because men are so cruel.”

She fared only slightly better with the parish priest, who while stern with her, saw her humility and faith and admitted her to Holy Communion three years before she was authorized to do so (given her age). Similarly, he accepted her wish to join the association of the “Children of Mary” when only twelve. But he was not prepared for her expression of interest in a religious vocation, and her desire to consecrate herself fully to the Lord.
“But you are not able to do anything!” He exclaimed. “The nuns would not know what to do with you!” “That is true, master,” Anna answered quite candidly, and accepted his advice that she remain at home, working in the fields.

He explained that it would be better if she remained at home and gave a hand with the work in the fields. However, upon reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament later that evening, the same priest realized that Anna was called to serve God. He called her back to him, asking “Are you still decided on entering a convent? Tell me something: do you know how to peel potatoes at least?”
“Oh yes, Father, I am able to do that at least.”

With keen insight, he agreed, saying “Alright, you need to know nothing else.” He also presented her with a small copy of the Catechism, which she carried with her every day of her life, and which was discovered in the pocket of her habit upon her death at age 33.

After being rejected for admission to one order because of her slowness, she was eventually accepted as a member of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart at Vicenza, and took the name “Maria Bertilla.” Upon admission, she told 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. She became a great favorite of both the patients and her co-workers, recognized at once for the simple, gentle care she gave her patients.

During the air raids of Treviso during World War I, the hospital fell under the control of the military. Sister Bertilla was noted for her unwavering care of her patients, particularly those who were too ill to be moved to safety. Without hesitation she nursed the wounded soldiers lodged there, refusing to vacate the hospital while it was being bombed.

Saint Maria continued in this manner, devoted to her work, humble and caring, and exhibiting a profound but simple faith. She was noted for her sincere love for her patients and the warm charity that she displayed towards them. She also had a special way of conveying the comforting presence of God to those who were seriously ill and eased their stress through her gentle demeanor.

Her supervisor, angry at her growing reputation, reassigned her to the hospital laundry, a position she remained in (without complaint) for four months. Her congregation’s mother-general heard of this vindictive treatment, and transferred Bertilla back to nursing, making her the supervisor of the children’s ward.

Not long after her transfer, Sister Bertilla’s already fragile health worsened. She had, for several years, suffered a painful tumor without complaint or interruption to her work. It was determined that she needed surgery to remove the tumor, which she obediently underwent, but did not survive.

Saint Maria Bertilla’s reputation for simplicity and devoted, caring hard work 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.”

Devoted crowds traveled on pilgrimage to her tomb, and numerous miracles were reported there. Only 42 years after her death, she was canonized as a saint, and the crowd in attendance included some of the patients she had so deeply cared for.


O Dearly beloved Word of God, teach me to be generous, to serve Thee as Thou dost deserve, to give without counting the cost, to fight without fretting at my wounds, to labor without seeking rest, to spend myself without looking for any reward other than that of knowing that I do Thy holy will. Amen.

Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin, pray for us. 




Saint Porphyry, Bishop of Gaza (347-420)

Saint Porphyry (Porphyrius) of Gaza was born in Thessalonica in present-day Greece. Although a wealthy man, at the age of 25 he went to live in Egypt as a desert hermit. He later moved to Palestine near the Jordan River, then to Jerusalem itself. He did great penances and would often visit the holy places where Jesus lived and walked, despite his poor health. He then renounced all material goods and his inheritance and became a priest in Jerusalem at the age of 40. The relics of the True Cross in Jerusalem were entrusted to his care. Despite his protests he was ordained Bishop of Gaza, a pagan stronghold with an insignificant Christian community.

Gaza’s pagans were hostile, and Saint Porphyry appealed to the emperor for protection and for the destruction of pagan temples, which he obtained. Saint Porphyry built a Christian church on the site of the most important pagan temple dedicated to the chief god, so that he could say Mass in the place where the devil was previously most honored. Saint Porphyry labored for his flock and won many converts through his miracles, though pagan opposition continued throughout his life. He was successful in spreading the Christian faith across his diocese.


Saint Porphyrius, you upheld Christianity in Gaza to the very end of your life, and guarded your flock from the vexatious pagans. Through your prayers, numerous miracles and healings occurred. Holy archbishop, you guided your flock for twenty-five years, and reposed in 420 at an advanced age.

Holy father, Porphyrios, pray to God for us. With your words did you arm and establish the Church of Christ, with true wisdom. O thrice-blessed Father, the beauty of ascetics, Porphyrios, and the protector of all, together with the angels, as we sing our hymn to Christ, grant us the tears of repentance, and entreat that we inherit Paradise, who cry out together: Alleluia! Alleluia! Through Christ our Lord. Amen

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