Saint of the Day – 25 March – St Lucia Filippini (1672-1732) Religious Sister, Founder of the Religious Teachers Filippini for whom she founded countless schools all over Italy, she concentrated too on raising her students to continue the work within their families in order to strengthen familt life and the role and dignity of woman. Born on 13 January 1672 at Cornetto, Tuscany, Italy and died on 25 March 1732 of cancer at Montefiascone, Italy. Patronage – the Religious Teachers Filippini. Also known as – Lucy Filippini.
Lucia was the fifth and youngest child of Filippo Filippini and Maddalena Picchi. She had not yet reached her first birthday when her mother died and was buried in the Church of San Marco. Her father, whom she loved dearly, also died six years later and was buried in the Church of Santa Margherita in Corneto. Now orphaned, Lucia went to live with her aunt and uncle. As a child Lucy would prepare small altars and pray devoutly. It was soon clear that she possessed a precocious intelligence, an inclination toward the spiritual life and a modesty that was truly angelic. Her vision was set on God. Notwithstanding her aristocratic upbringing, she always conducted herself with modesty and its practice.
At times Lucia would seek for a serene atmosphere in the nearby Benedictine Nuns’ Monastery of Santa Lucia. Lucia visited frequently, drawn there by her desire to be among those, whose lives and goodness she admired. It was here that she received her First Communion. Here, too, Lucia received the spiritual nourishment of which she never had enough and listened attentively to the explanations of the Divine Mysteries. The grace she felt can be understood from the joy and enthusiasm expressed later as she led and instructed others. She spoke with much fervour and her words of compassion and love, brought tears to the eyes of her companions. They were a prelude to Lucia’s future mission.
When Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo made his first pastoral visit to Corneto, he made a lasting impression on Lucia and she followed him to Montefiascone. Entrusting herself to the Cardinal’s guidance, Lucia was eager to leave behind all worldly things. She had a special devotion to Our Lady, her spiritual Mother and throughout her life, her deep love for Mary and her faith, sustained her. Cardinal Barbarigo envisioned her as a key factor to bring about a rebirth of Christian living. He had already begun by establishing a seminary where young priests might study and train for the ministry of the Word.
The next step was to develop a Christian conscience and encourage the practice of virtue in the home; this he resolved to do by opening schools for young ladies, particularly the children of the poor, in whom he saw hope for the future. Lucia would head the schools they founded to promote the dignity of womanhood and help influence a healthy family life. Together they looked ahead to fulfilling their generous, ardent and profound mission of faith and charity. In 1692, teachers were trained to staff the rapidly expanding schools.
The young ladies of Montefiascone were taught domestic arts, weaving, embroidering, reading and Christian doctrine. Twelve years later the Cardinal devised a set of rules to guide Lucia and her followers, in the religious life. Fifty-two schools were established during Lucia’s lifetime. As the Community grew, it attracted the attention of Pope Clement XI who, in 1707, called Lucia to Rome to start schools, which he placed under his special protection. Here she completed the work of founding the schools.
To complement the work of the schools, Lucia and her Teachers conducted classes and conferences for women, who were strengthened in their faith as they took part in prayer, meditation and good works. Her focus for the social apostolate was to encourage her Teachers to minister to the needs of the poor and the sick . Her method of teaching attracted widespread attention. The social apostolate was an extension of the classroom. She testified that the young ladies were the co-ordinating element that underlies family life: ‘Having learned in school those things that were necessary, they repeat them to parents and relatives at home and thus become so many young teachers.’
Lucy died at sixty years of age on 25 March 1732, on Feast of the Annunciation. For three centuries, the example of Christian womanhood that marked the lives of her Teachers and students was recognised by Holy Mother Church. On 22 June 1930, Lucia Filippini was declared a Saint of the Church by Pope Pius XI and her Statue was given the last available niche in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. Her statue can be seen in the first upper niche from the main entrance on the left (south) side of the nave of St Peter’s. The Institute, which bears the name of Lucia Filippini, owes its birth to the Cardinal who loved schools and to the Holy Teacher, who committed her entire life to the educative-apostolic mission.