Maria Pia Mastena (1881-1951)
MARIA PIA MASTENA was born in Bovolone in the Italian province of Verona on December 7, 1881.
The texts describe her parents as exemplary Christians and very fervent in the practice of the faith and in works of charity. Of their four children, the last, Tarcisio, entered the Order of the Capuchin Friars and he too, died with a reputation for sanctity.
The future Blessed received her First Holy Communion on 19 March 1891 with great fervor, and on this occasion she made a private vow of perpetual chastity. On 27 August 1891 she received the Sacrament of Confirmation. During her adolescence she was assiduous at religious functions and at parish activities, especially as a catechist.
Shortly afterward she sensed a calling to religious life, and she pursued this ideal that was characterized by a strong Eucharistic devotion and devotion to the Holy Face. She requested to enter religious life at the age of 14, but she was only accepted as a postulant in 1901 in the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona.
With the permission of her superiors, on 11 April 1903, coincidentally on the same day the Mystic of Lucca, St. Gemma Galgani was born into eternal life, she made “a private vow to be a victim soul”.
She was vested with the religious habit on 29 September 1902, and on 24 October 1904 she professed vows of religious life and received the name Sister Passitea Maria of the Child Jesus. The Blessed lived this phase of her life with particular spiritual intensity and she would also recall that it was a time of grace and blessing, especially remembering with esteem and affection her superiors and the Sisters of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy. The fervor which she experienced in this Institute would be an inspiration for her to take a vow to seek perfection in all things.
She was a teacher in various places in the Veneto region, in particular for more than 19 years in Miane, where she dedicated herself to an intense apostolate to students of every age, infirmity and disability.
With the authorization of her superiors and the “nulla osta” of the Holy See, on 15 April 1927 she entered the Cistercian monastery of Veglie, to fulfill a deep desire for the contemplative life.
On 15 November, 1927, with the encouragement of the bishop of Vittorio Veneto, she left the monastery, resumed teaching and proceeded toward the foundation of a new religious institute called the Religious of the Holy Face. It was canonically recognized on 8 December 1936 and, after great suffering, it was recognized as a Congregation of Pontifical Right on 10 December 1947.
The entire apostolic ministry that followed was dedicated to the establishment and the expansion of the Congregation, through promoting new initiatives for the poor, the suffering and the infirm, entrusting to the Institute the charism to “engender, restore, and rediscover the image of the gentle Jesus in souls.”
She died in Rome on 28 June 1951.