Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, recently beatified Elena Aiello, an Italian religious woman who bore the stigmata and foretold the fall of Benito Mussolini.
The beatification Mass took place Sept. 14 in Calabria, Italy, the hometown of Sister Aiello,
During the celebration, Cardinal Amato said the heroic testimony of her life and work helped shape the region.
According to L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Amato noted that Sr. Elena, who died at age 66, taught Catholics that “it is possible to live the Gospel to a heroic degree, it is possible then to be saints … because this land needs the spiritual beauty of the saints.”
He recalled that Sr. Elena founded the congregation of the Little Sisters of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ with her philosophy of the “little way” toward holiness and her mystical participation in the Paschal mystery, with “her eyes always fixed on the crucifix.”
To those who said her charity toward the needy and the handicapped was “exaggerated,” Sr. Elena said, “The poor, the handicapped and the suffering are the best friends of Jesus, and in doing good to them, we are specifically loving the Lord.”
In March of 1922, while she was practicing the devotion of the “13 Fridays” of St. Francis of Paula in private, she received the stigmata.
From then on her stigmata bled every Friday in March, especially on Good Friday. She also experienced great pain and the gift of prophecy.
In 1928, together with Gina Mazza, she founded the Little Sisters of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to honor the passion of the Lord and to offer spiritual and material help to the poor.
Among her many prophecies, Sr. Elena foretold the tragic end of Mussolini, the Italian dictator who was executed by firing squad on April 28, 1945, after he was caught trying to escape Italy disguised as a German soldier.
“Do you remember when you asked me last July 7 what would happen to the Duce, and I told you that if he did not remain united to the Pope, he would have a worse end than that of Napoleon? I repeat the same words to you now: If the Duce does not save Italy by doing everything that the Holy Father says and does, he will soon fall,” Sr. Elena said.
Sr. Elena Aiello died in 1961.
Speaking to pilgrims on Sept. 14 after his weekly general audience, Benedict XVI said that “the Church in Italy rejoices at the elevation to the altars of such an eminently Eucharistic soul.”
“May the example and intercession of the new blessed increase everyone’s love for the Sacrament of the altar,” he concluded.