Serving in that role from 1918 to 1946, Barelli formed “generations of conscious and motivated women,” Preziosi said.
Known as Ida to her friends, Barelli had an strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which helped to spread among the Catholic women she encountered.
“For her, the Sacred Heart is the 'Heart of the King', the merciful love of Christ, which invests every human action,” Preziosi said.
“She lived her faith with ever greater depth, a faith that led to an encounter with Christ himself, loved and present. It is a faith that is simple and strong at the same time, lived as a response to the call of the Lord,” he said.
Barelli went on to help found the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, collected a fund to open an orphanage in northern China, and founded the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ together with Fr. Gemelli.
She died in 1952 after suffering for three years from a progressive chronic illness. Barelli’s cause for sainthood was opened by the Archdiocese of Milan in 1960. Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed her Venerable in 2007 in recognition of a life of heroic virtue.
On Feb. 20, 2021, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Barelli’s intercession, paving the way for her upcoming beatification.
The miracle involved the healing of Alice Maggini, who was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle in 1989 in Prato, Italy after which the doctors predicted severe neurological repercussions.
Maggini’s family invoked the intercession of Barelli, who was then a Servant of God, and Maggini was completely healed in a scientifically inexplicable way and did not suffer any later consequences of the injury until her death in 2012.
The current president of Italy’s Catholic Action, Matteo Truffelli, welcomed the news that Barelli will soon be declared a “Blessed.”
“Traveling down unexplored paths in the proclamation of the Gospel, Armida met thousands of young women, arousing in all of them a creative, daring, courageous and enthusiastic faith, and stirring in them the desire to involve many other people in this mission,” Truffelli said.
“In the diocesan associations of Catholic Action, there have been and still are numerous examples of women like Armida, who have continued her legacy over the years by carrying on with contagious enthusiasm their ‘elder sister’s’ work of evangelization.”
Preziosi said: “The testimony of Armida Barelli is that of a Christian laywoman who takes her life in hand, who loves the Church, who allows herself to be questioned by her time and spends her entire life proclaiming the love of God, which she saw in the Sacred Heart. A woman who, serving a great ideal, shows us the way to a conscious Christian vocation.”