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Bl. Mary Magdalene of the Incarnation (1770-1824)

Foundress, Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament


Caterina Sordini was born on 16 April 1770 at Grosseto, Italy, the fourth of nine children born into a deeply Catholic family. When she was 17 her father arranged for her to marry a maritime merchant. At first she was against it, but later complied with her father's wishes. The young man gave her a casket of jewels and, having adorned herself, turned to admire her reflection in the mirror but saw the image of the Crucified Christ who asked: "Do you want to leave me for another?".

She took the question seriously and in February 1788 visited the Franciscan Tertiary Monastery in Ischia di Castro. Caterina entered then and there, thus shocking her father who had thought it was merely a visit. She was clothed six months later, taking the name of Sr Mary Magdalene of the Incarnation.

On 19 February 1789, she fell into ecstasy and saw a vision of "Jesus seated on a throne of grace in the Blessed Sacrament, surrounded by virgins adoring him" and heard him telling her: "I have chosen you to establish the work of perpetual adorers who, day and night, will offer me their humble adoration...". Thus, she was called to become a foundress and to spend her life adoring Jesus in the Eucharist. In that turbulent period for the Church she set an example to all.

She was elected Abbess on 20 April 1802. The period of her governance was accompanied by extraordinary phenomena and an increasingly fervent spiritual life, and the abbey thrived. With the consent of her spiritual director and the local Bishop she drafted the rules of the new Institute and set out for Rome on 31 May 1807.

On 8 July that year, she and a few Sisters moved into Sts Joachim and Anne convent, near the Trevi Fountain. Under the French occupation it was confiscated and the Napoleonic laws suppressed her Order. She was exiled to Tuscany.

There she formed a new group of Adorers. On 19 March 1814, when they could return to Rome they settled at Sant'Anna al Quirinale. On 13 February 1818, Pope Pius VII approved the Institute dedicated to perpetual, solemn, public exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Mother Mary Magdalene died in Rome on 29 April 1824. She was buried at Sant'Anna al Quirinale and in 1839 her remains were translated to the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, the new generalate of the Perpetual Adorers in Rome. Pope John Paul II decreed her heroic virtues in 2001 and in 2007, Benedict XVI recognized a miracle attributed to her intercession.