Anna Maria Adorni, in her life a mother, widow and consecrated religious, was beatified on Sunday. The 19th-century Italian blessed is remembered for her maternal charity to the needy, especially those in jail, and her constant prayer.
Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Vatican's congregation for saints' causes, presided over the beatification liturgy in the cathedral of the Italian city of Parma.
In an article published in Saturday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the postulator for her cause for canonization, Fr. Guglielmo Camera, remembered how, despite many hardships, she did not give in to despair.
She was born in 1805 and at 39 years old, after her husband's passing and having suffered the early deaths of five of her six children, she took up a life of charity and relief for those in jail at her confessor's encouragement.
Other women followed in her example and their work expanded to the care of women released from jail, at-risk children and orphans through their house called the Institute of the Good Shepherd. In 1857, together with eight companions she was able to found a religious congregation which "called and considered themselves the 'Handmaidens of Blessed Mary Immaculate'," wrote Adorni's postulator.
Fr. Camera added that Blessed Adorni, who died in 1893, "is considered the mother of the marginalized, exploited, of all who are subject to new forms of slavery and, in particular, of the incarcerated and women offended in their human dignity."
The Holy Father also remembered Blessed Adorni in his address before the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, calling her and "an exemplary spouse and mother" who later "dedicated herself to charity to jailed women and those in difficulty."
"Mother Adorni, because of her constant prayer, was called the 'living Rosary'," he recalled, as he urged the faithful to seek fortification in the prayer as she did, especially during the Marian month of October.
Blessed Guido Maria Conforti, Bishop of Parma in the times of Anna Maria Adorni wrote after her death that "her charity was without limits, it shone also in the darkest place of expiation, deprived of the light of truth.
"From the dismal jails where derelict souls received from that angel the word of comfort, of resignation, of peace, it extended itself in the miserable shacks," he said, "where the poor found aid in her, refreshment to their sorrows; to the bed of the infirm to which she gave, with maternal charity, all the physical and moral healings required by the necessities of each one."
Blessed Adorni's is the latest of a number of beatifications in the Catholic Church in recent months. Among others, English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Italian Chiara "Luce" Badano and Spanish Friar Leopold de Alpandeire have also been declared blesseds in separate ceremonies in their homelands. Later this month, on Oct. 17, the canonizations of Australia's Bl. Mary MacKillop, Canada's Bl. Andre Bessette and four others will take place in St. Peter's Square.