Saint of the Day – 21 February – Blessed Caterina Dominici/Maria Enrichetta (1829–1894) Nun of the Sisters of St Anne – whose main charism is the care and education of street children, Mystic with an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, close friend and adviser to St John Bosco in establishing the Rule of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, also “lending” two nuns to the new Congregation. During the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak, she cared for and ministered to countless people. She then went on to serve for over three decades as the Superior General of her Congregation. Born on 10 October 1829 in Borgo Salsasio, Carmagnola, Turin, Italy and died on 21 February 1894, aged 64, in Turin, Italy of natural causes. Also known as Mother Maria Enrichetta (her religious name), Anna Caterina, Maria Henrich Dominici, Mother Maria Enrica Dominici.
Caterina Dominici was born on 10 October 1829 near Turin, as the fourth daughter. One brother would become a Priest. She was four when her parents separated and she went with her mother and siblings to live with her Priest uncle.
As a child she grew into the habit of regular Confession and Holy Communion. She moved in 1848 and in November 1850 became a non-cloistered religious of the Sisters of Saint Anne. She assumed the name of “Maria Enrichetta.” Pope Pius IX visited Loreto in 1857 and Sr Maria was present along with St Madeleine Sophie Barat when the Pope met with the professed religious.
Sr Maria Enrichetta was appointed as the Superior General of her Congregation and she at first attempted to discourage her fellow sisters from the appointment.
Now Mother Maria, she founded about thirty houses, reaching Rome and Sicily. With each term of office confirmed, it did not seem possible to have another mother general. As a girl she had dreamed of becoming a missionary to India, now, she could fulfill the vow indirectly, sending her nuns. In February 1871 six of them left, which the Mother entrusted to the Holy Trinity of which she was very devoted. Her new foundation in India opened a path that would bear great fruit. In October 1879 she went in person to distant India, to Secunderabad, to visit the Institute’s first Missionary home.
On 14 July 1884 she was received at an audience by Pope Leo XIII.
Her health started to decline from November 1893 and Caterina was confined to bed. She continued to lead the institute, despite suffering and pain. She spent her last week in drowsiness and despite this, she continued to speak in a weak voice to those around her bedside.
Affable and kind, however, she was reserved and of a few words. She meditated for hours before the Tabernacle and she obtained permission from the Holy See, for her nuns to make daily communion.
Her writings, autobiography and copious letters, speak her total abandonment to God. She wrote: “Oh how happy lives the soul that lives totally abandoned in God. Oh if everyone knew this happiness …”
Sr Maria Enrichetta died in 1894 and her remains were transferred in 1926 to the chapel of the mother house.
The investigation for a miracle attributed to her intercession, spanned from 1949 to 1950 and was validated in 1952. Paul VI approved it in 1977 and Beatified her on 7 May 1978.
There are currently Houses of St Anne in Italy, Switzerland, Cameroon, Argentina, Peru, Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, USA. In India there are eighty houses, more than in Italy.