Saint of the Day – 26 March – Blessed Maddalena Caterina Morano FMA (1847-1908) Virgin, Sister of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christian – the female branch of the Salesians of St Don Bosco, most commonly known as the “Salesian Sisters”, Teacher and Catechist – born on 15 November 1847 at Chieri, Italy and died on 26 March 1908 at Catania, Sicily, Italy of cancer. Patronages – Teachers and Catechists. The Roman Martyrology says of her: “In Catania in Sicily, in the year 1908, Blessed Madeleine-Catherine Morano, virgin, from the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, devoted herself to teaching Catechism, traversing this region up and down endlessly.”
Maddalena Caterina Morano was born in Chieri, in the province of Turin, on 15 November 1847. Her father Francis died when she was eight and she began to help her mother with her work. Thanks to her uncle, a priest, she was able to resume her studies. Her teacher appointed her to help the little ones. Meanwhile she met Don Bosco for the first time, while walking to Buttigliera d’Asti. Maddalena wanted to teach and when she was 17 gained her teacher’s certificate.
When she was 19 she began teaching at Montaldo Torinese. She confessed to her mother in 1877 that she wanted to become a nun but her mother could not support herself if Morano left her. She did this with diligence and competence for fourteen years, earning the respect and esteem of the entire neighbourhood. Finally, Maddalena took her spiritual director’s advice and, after having bought a home for her mother with her savings, went to speak to Don Bosco, who directed her towards Mornese, where Mother Mazzarello happily welcomed her.
With Mother Mazzarello
She immediately began teaching. In 1880 she consecrated herself to God through perpetual vows and asked the Lord for the grace “of staying alive until she had become a saint.” In 1881, at the request of the Archbishop of Catania, Maddalena was invited to direct the new work at Trecastagni, where three teachers were working. For four years she was in charge, taught, washed, cooked, was Catechist but was especially a witness to the point where the girls were always repeating – ‘we want to be like her!’
After a pause of a year in Turin, where she was in charge of the FMA community at Valdocco, she was sent to Sicily as Visitor, Directress and Novice Mistress. Hers was the task of founding new communities and forming holy Sisters. Constantly with “one glance to earth and ten to heaven,” she opened schools, oratories, hostels, workshops everywhere on the island.
Numerous vocations came, attracted by her zeal and the community spirit she created around her. Her multiple apostolates were welcomed and encouraged by the Bishops. At Catania they gave her all the Catechetics to look after, the foundation of new Oratories and the Teacher’s College.
She was very devoted to Saint Joseph and Mary Help of Christians, who guided her in founding new works and she was successful in spreading Don Bosco’s charism and the Preventive System.
Suffering from a tumour, Sr Morano died at Catania on 26 March 1908 at the age of 61. At her death in 1908, there were 18 Houses in Sicily, 142 Sisters, 20 novices, 9 postulants.
In the city where she died, St Pope John Paul II proclaimed her Blessed on 5 November 1994. Her remains are venerated at Alì Terme in the Salesian Church at Messina.
Mother Morano had a fear – being aware that people considered her a saint, she said: “When I am dead, do not say ‘Mother Morano was a Saint and will be in Heaven’ and with this, you let me burn in Purgatory until the end of the world, if by mercy of God I am saved. Pray, pray for me. ” She knew “that holiness is all about doing God’s will, this being the only way to show our love for Him.”
The Provincial of the Salesian houses in Sicily, Fr Franco Piccollo, wrote:
“Certain names […] acquire special meanings and, for those who have known Mother Morano, this name takes on three meanings -that is , unbeatable fortress, authentic and full of sanctity, generosity with God and exquisite goodness with all. [She] showed strength in suffering, for almost all her life she uncomfortable and suffered some very serious ailments, although she kept them secret, true daughter of Blessed Don Bosco, she was waiting for rest in Paradise.”
Don Albera, then spiritual director of the Salesian Society, was amazed to find in her, so many beautiful qualities and one day he said – “Oh this Mother Morano is a wonderful nun! She could govern not only the province but the whole FMA congregation. “
Of Mother Morano, her biographer Don Garneri, states:
“I can say [that] her intimate study was to imitate Jesus in everything.” And she did it also repeating the ejaculations: “All for You my good Jesus, my immense good! Only Your love and glory is enough for me my Jesus. “
Faced with this love, Sister Elisabetta Dispenza confesses: “I felt attracted as if by a magnet … when I saw her go and return from Communion. She no longer looked like a human creature but an angel. In those moments I wanted to imitate her … “ She often spoke of the Madonna and sometimes she also sang her praises in Sicilian dialect with the people – “Long live Mary, may Mary always be alive. Long live Mary and the One who created her, for without Mary you cannot be saved.”
She often said to the Sisters: “Let us remember that we bear the name of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, therefore, we must be such in words, with deeds, imitating her virtues and with our good example. My sisters, we became Sisters to make us holy and sanctify the souls that the Lord entrusts to us.”
Speaking with her, adds Sister Dispenza: “I had this impression several times that in its spiritual perfection she followed in the footsteps of St Teresa of Avila, St Francis of Sales, St John Bosco, three saints of whom she often spoke and whose lives she knew well.”
Don Monasteri expresses this impression of his: “When I saw her I seemed to be in front of a St Teresa.” Mother Morano “devoted to all the saints, had a special devotion to the Patriarch St Joseph, so much so, that under her protection she placed the Sicilian Province. In honour of the Sain,t she composed a special rosary and in the needs of the House she prayed: “Saint Joseph think of us!”
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