Countdown to beatification of martyred Italian nun begins with Eucharistic adoration

Sisterr Maria Laura Mainetti public domain Sister Maria Laura Mainetti. Public domain.

The celebrations in northern Italy for the beatification of Sr. Maria Laura Mainetti began Thursday night with Eucharistic adoration at a church in her hometown near Lake Como.

Mainetti was murdered in 2000 by three teenage girls as part of a Satanic ritual. Pope Francis declared Mainetti to be a martyr, killed “in hatred of the faith,” last year.

The diocese of Como has organized three days of events leading up to her beatification on June 6, the anniversary of her murder in Chiavenna, Italy.

The celebration began in the Church of San Bernardino da Siena in Villatico di Colico, where Mainetti was born in 1939. The church hosted an evening of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with readings of meditations and reflections from the martyred sister’s diaries.

Bishop Oscar Cantoni of Como released a message to mark Mainetti’s beatification.

He said: “It is not a simple coincidence that the day of the beatification of Sister Maria Laura coincides with the feast of ‘Corpus Domini,’ the memorial of the wedding feast of the Lamb, immolated and victorious.”

“With the Eucharist, it is no longer we who live, but it is Jesus who lives in us: our actions are born from communion with him, since we were created for communion and for the gift of ourselves. We are called to draw ever new energies of love from the heart of Christ, so that we too become a source of life for others, thus giving our life, in one way or another, to others.”

Cantoni said that this is the message that the Church proclaims with the beatification of Mainetti, calling her “a luminous instrument for spreading God's love to everyone everywhere.”

On the eve of the beatification, there will be a prayer vigil and procession from the San Luigi Oratory in Chiavenna to the Church of San Lorenzo at 4:30 p.m. on June 5. Sr. Beniamina Mariani and Fr. Ambrogio Balatti will share their testimonies at the vigil.

Sr. Laura Mainetti’s vestition ceremony in 1959. /
Sr. Laura Mainetti’s vestition ceremony in 1959. /

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside over the beatification Mass taking place in a large field in Chiavenna at 4 p.m. on June 6. The beatification will be broadcast live on Italian national television and online via live stream on the official beatification website.

Mainetti was the superior of the Sisters of the Cross convent in Chiavenna, which was devoted to helping juvenile delinquents. She was well known in her small town for her social and charitable commitment to dispossessed youth and poor people.

On the evening of June 6, 2000, three girls who knew the religious sister because she had taught them catechism lured Mainetti into a park by claiming that one of them needed to talk, because she had been raped and impregnated and was considering an abortion.

The three girls made Mainetti kneel and shouted abuse at her. One girl beat the 60-year-old sister with a brick and another pushed her head repeatedly into a wall.

They took turns stabbing Mainetti 19 times with a kitchen knife. They had, according to Italian media reports, intended to stab her 18 times, six times each, to form by their violence the number 666.

Sr. Mainetti prayed throughout the attack and asked God to forgive the girls for their actions.

Her last words, according to some accounts of her death, were “Lord, forgive them.”

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The three girls later admitted that they killed her as a demonic ritual. They confessed that they had originally planned to kill the parish priest, but decided that because he was larger, it would prove too difficult. Investigators said the girls’ notebooks were filled with Satanic writings, and that they had made a blood oath some months earlier.

Mainetti's killers were convicted and imprisoned. The killers have since been freed from prison, and have started families -- changing their names and moving to large Italian cities, according to Corriere della Sera.

One of the girls who killed Mainetti wrote a letter to her religious community after her conviction. Milena De Giambattista said in the letter that the memory of Sr. Mainetti forgiving her as she was killing her has stayed with her.

“I can have of her only a memory of love. And in addition to this, it also allowed me to believe in something that is neither God nor Satan, but which was a simple woman who defeated evil,” Milena wrote.

“Now in her I find comfort and the grace to endure everything. I always pray and I am sure she will help me become a better person.”

After her release from prison in 2006, Milena was a guest for several years of the Exodus communities in the area of Verona -- residences for the prevention and treatment of drug addiction, founded by Fr. Antonio Mazzi.

Mazzi once said, as recounted by Amedeo Mainetti, the murdered nun’s brother, that Milena “is fully aware of what she did and at the same time repentant and convinced that she can be reborn and recover better and better.”

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In Sr. Mainetti’s diary on the day of her perpetual profession of vows, she wrote: “Give me your feelings, Jesus, those of the Beatitudes: the poor who trusts, abandons himself/the child who feels loved by him/the affliction that is participation in that of Christ and is salvation/Mercy, Benevolence, Purity of body and heart, Humility.”

“To serve Christ is to reign: Here I am… The joy of my service every instant in conformity with Your Divine Will.”

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