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Bl. Giuseppina Catanea (1894-1948)

Carmelite Religious


Giuseppina Catanea (Sr Maria Giuseppina of Jesus Crucified) was born on 18 February 1894 in Naples, Italy, into a noble family, the Marquises Grimaldi. Called "Pinella" by her family, as a young child she showed great affection for the poor and most needy, giving money to them. She helped to care for two lonely old women.

Pinella's mother and grandmother set a good Christian example for her. She was especially devoted to Our Lord in the Eucharist and to Mary, praying the Rosary often. At an early age, Pinella was convinced that Jesus was calling her to Carmel.

Having completed commercial studies, and overcoming the opposition of her mother and family members, on 10 March 1918 Giuseppina entered the Carmelite Community at St Maria ai Ponti Rossi. As a young religious, she learned to love Christ through suffering, offering herself as a victim for the good of priests. She accepted great physical pain as God's will for her.

Giuseppina was afflicted with tuberculosis of the spine, which completely paralysed her. She owes her miraculous cure to the intercession of St Francis Xavier, whose relic was brought to her cell and who appeared to her in a dream.

Although she would have been glad to live in solitude, when the news of her miraculous recovery became known outside the Community, priests, seminarians and persons of every social class came to Ponti Rossi to receive counsel and consolation from her.

In 1932, the Holy See officially recognized the house at Ponti Rossi as a convent of the Discalced Carmelites with the name, "the Carmel of Sts Teresa and Joseph at Ponti Rossi". Pope Pius XI approved the house as a Carmel of the Second Order, with Papal enclosure, placing it under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Naples. Giuseppina received the Carmelite habit and took the name Sr Maria Giuseppina of Jesus Crucified. On 6 August 1932, she made her Solemn Profession according to the Carmelite Rule.

On the day she took the habit, she said that she wished to offer herself to the Crucified Jesus so that she could be crucified with Him. She suffered silently but joyfully and abandoned herself to the will of God, who favoured her with mystical experiences.

In 1934, Cardinal Alessio Ascalesi, the Archbishop of Naples, appointed Sr Maria Giuseppina the Sub-prioress of the Carmel, while in 1945 she became the Vicar.

That same year, on 29 September, the first General Chapter of the Ponti Rossi Carmel elected Sr Maria Giuseppina the Prioress, an office that she held until her death.

Already in 1943 she had begun to suffer various physical maladies, including the progressive loss of her sight. She considered her illnesses to be "a magnificent gift" that allowed her to be better conformed to the Crucified Christ. With a cheerful spirit, she offered her body as a sacrifice for souls. She died in Naples on 14 March 1948.

In obedience to her spiritual director, Sr Maria Giuseppina of Jesus Crucified wrote her Autobiography (1894-1932) and her Diary (1925-45), as well as many letters and exhortations for her Sisters.

The beatification ceremony took place on 1 June in the Cathedral of Naples, Italy, at which the Archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, presided. The Cardinal Archbishop read a message from Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for the event.