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PONTIFICIUM OPUS A SANCTA INFANTIA

 

VENERABLE ANTONIETTA MEO

 

Antonietta Meo, affectionately called “Nennolina”, was born in Rome on December 15th of the year 1930. At the age of three, she attended nursery school with religious sisters, and at the age of 5, she enrolled in Catholic Action, in the group for the littlest ones. At six years old, osteosarcoma forces her left leg to be amputated. Already at that age, she had a concept of the value of suffering that was incomprehensible without the grace of God.

A religious sister who was a nurse in the clinic testified: “One morning, while I was helping the nurse was in charge of ordering the room of the little girl, her father entered. After caressing her, he asked her: “Do you feel much pain?” And Antonietta said: “Daddy, the pain is like fabric, the stronger it is, the more value it has.” The religious sister added: “If I had not heard this with my own ears, I would not have believed it.”

She begins to go to elementary school at the age of six, with a prosthesis that bothers her greatly. However, she offers it all to Jesus: “May each step that I take be a little word of love”. She wants to celebrate the day of the anniversary of her amputation with a big lunch and with a novena to Our Lady of Pompeii, because thanks to this event she was able to offer her suffering to Jesus.

The night of Christmas of 1936, she receives her First Holy Communion with great fervor, and a few months later she receives Confirmation. The amputation of her leg had not stopped the tumor that had spread to the head, hand, foot, throat, and mouth. Both the pain of the illness and the treatments that tried to heal her were very strong.

When they would meet a poor person, it was she who wanted to give her the cent that she had. She liked to attend school and catechism class; she wrote to Jesus: “I go enthusiastically, because I learn so many beautiful things about You and Your saints.”

She died in the midst of terrible pains. She had not even completed seven years of age.

She has been declared “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI on December 17th, 2007. Her life has been a witness of sanctity for children who suffer.

About her, Pope Benedict XVI has said:

"I am pleased that you just mentioned Antonia Meo, a little girl known as "Nennolina". Exactly three days ago, I decreed the recognition of her heroic virtues and I hope that her cause of beatification will soon be successfully concluded. What a shining example this little peer of yours left us! In her very short life - only six and a half years - Nennolina, a Roman child, showed special faith, hope and charity, and likewise the other Christian virtues. Although she was a frail little girl, she managed to give a strong and vigorous Gospel witness and left a deep mark on the diocesan Community of Rome. Nennolina belonged to Catholic Action: today, she would certainly have been enrolled in ACR! Therefore, you can consider her a friend of yours, a model to inspire you. Her life, so simple and at the same time so important, shows that holiness is for all ages: for children and for young people, for adults and for the elderly. Every season of our life can be a good time for deciding to love Jesus seriously and to follow him faithfully. In just a few years, Nennolina reached the peak of Christian perfection that we are all called to scale; she sped down the "highway" that leads to Jesus. Indeed, as you yourselves said, Jesus is the true "road" that leads us to the Father and to his and our definitive home, which is Paradise. You know that Antonia now lives in God and is close to you from Heaven: you feel her present among you, in your groups. Learn to know her and follow her example".

(Audience to boys and girls of Catholic Action, 20 December 2007)


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