Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations announced this week that on
Saturday, March 18th, the Servant of God, Elia di San Clemente, a
Carmelite nun who died in 1927 at the age of 26, will be beatified at
the Cathedral of Bari in the Italian region of Puglia.
Elia de San Clemente, whose given name was Teodora Fracasso, was born in Bari on January 17, 1901, and was called “the little smile of God” by the bishop of the time.
Teodora lived with her family until she was 19, when she entered the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph in her native city on April 8, 1920. She made her final profession on February 11, 1925 and towards the end of 1926 she began to suffer a continuous headache, which she referred to as “my little brother.”
In a letter written to her spiritual director, she said: “My little brother won’t allow me to give long discourses, much less listen to them. As you see, all this is working together to isolate me from everything so that I live only in God. Nothing upsets the peace of my soul. Everything has become a way of drawing myself towards Him. No, venerable Father, I do not regret having consecrated myself victim to the Lord.”
The pains were the beginning of encephalitis, which would culminate in her early, and unexpected death; the community was only made aware of the gravity of the situation when she was already in a coma.
On a radiant Christmas morning in 1927, at age 26, Sister Elia went home to God.