Saint of the Day – 3 September – Blessed Brigida of Jesus Morello (1610-1679) Religious Sister and Founder of the Ursuline Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Widow., Eucharistic adorer, apostle of the Passion of Christ and a Marian devotee. She was born as born Brigida Morello, on 17 June 1610 in San Michele di Pagana di Rapallo, Genoa, Italy and died on 3 September 1679 in Piacenza, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Ursuline Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Widows.
Brigida Morello was born on 17 March 1610 in Genoa as the sixth of eleven children to Nicolò Morello and Livinia Borzese.
She married Matteo Zancano from Cremona on 14 October 1633 and the pair moved to Salsomaggiore in Parma to live their new life together. But this would be short and she was widowed at the age of 27 after he died on 11 November 1637. She made a vow to remain chaste after her husband died and tried to join the female branch of the Order of Friars Minor but was rejected due to her widowhood.
She moved and became a spiritual student of the Jesuits in Piacenza in 1640 and also placed herself under their spiritual direction. In obedience to her confessor she began a journal with entries that spanned from 1642 until 1645.
In September 1646 she began to gather a group of women at her home in Parma under the guidance of Saint Ursula and set the foundations for a new religious congregation that she herself would soon establish. She devoted herself to a state of constant penance and charitable works to benefit the lives of others and encouraged this amongst her companions. She declared her order would dedicate itself to the education of girl s. The new institute was established on 17 February 1649 – on Ash Wednesday – in which she professed her vows as a member of it. The founder assumed the name of “Brigida of Jesus” and placed her congregation under the care of the Jesuits. Morello was not selected as the first superior but was appointed in 1665 and reconfirmed twice in 1670 and 1675 around the time health began to fail her.
Brigida wrote down the rules and regulations for her dear Congregation. Two weeks before her death she gathered her loving sisters and spoke to them her last words of instructions. She commended herself into the hands of the Almighty on 3 September 1679. She could say with St Paul – “I have run the race, I am ready Lord.” Death is a beautiful experience for those who live close to God.
Brigida was a prophet of her times as she responded to the needs of an age where materialism and power had influenced even the Christian doctrine and faith adversely. Moved by the love of God, she pioneered the formal education of women, preparing them to love God and to become true Christian Mothers. The Charism left by Brigida can be summed up in: “Identification with Christ Crucified and Risen”. She is usually portrayed with a Crucifix in her hand, thus implying that following Jesus Crucified is the only way to holiness. Her Christo-centric spirituality stemmed from her contemplation of the Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Saviour, from her love of Jesus in the Eucharist and from her tender devotion to Mother Mary, the Immaculate. A precious heritage indeed!
Her teachings were left in writing as a precious heritage for those who would follow her through the centuries under the Ursuline banner. When unfolding this treasured gift so unique to their Foundress, we discover some of the striking characteristics of her spirituality and charism.
She was Beatified on 15 March 1998 by St Pope John Paul II at Rome, Italy.