St. Maria de Mattias
Foundress - Adorers of the Blood of Christ

Born and baptized on February 2, 1805 in Vallecorsa in central Italy, Maria Matilde DeMattias was a wonderful Christian woman, creative and full of an energy that came more from God than from herself. She loved God and people immensely, especially the poor and those who were in need or in trouble.

Maria never had a chance to go to school, but she became a great teacher. She was self-taught, and by the grace of God learned to read and write. In fact, in the course of her lifetime she wrote hundreds of letters -- to leaders of society and the Catholic Church, to her family, to her companions.

Maria's life work was to establish a group of women dedicated to God's love and the service of people, with the title "Adorers of the Blood of Christ." She chose this title because for her the greatest witness to God's love for us was when Jesus died on the cross for us, shedding His blood for us. Maria was 29 years old when she founded her congregation of women in Acuto, Italy, in 1834.

For 32 years, until she died in 1866, Maria used all her energies for the work of establishing and nurturing this order of women religious. That meant a lot of traveling --- on donkey back, on foot, by carriage --- on roads that were treacherous or by mountain paths that were even more dangerous, in all kinds of weather. It demanded of her collaboration and negotiations with civil and church officials. Receiving women into her group called for her time and attention in helping them to understand her vision and how to live it, in preparing them for their ministry, and in guiding them in their work. Maria became known all over central Italy as "the woman who preaches." She loved God so much that she was on fire to talk with people about how much God loves us. They responded and often came from great distances to hear her message.

Maria suffered much in her lifetime. She and her sisters were always poor, often with the cupboard nearly bare. They were always ready to share what little they had with people less fortunate, and by frugal living and hard work, they managed. Maria overcame many obstacles to her vision --- ill health, jealousy of others, temptations to give up or to think that she was the cause of all the problems of her fledgling community, stress of organizing and traveling, bitter cold in the winter, the opposition of good people who misunderstood her work.

Throughout it all, Maria looked to Jesus and his sufferings to find meaning and purpose in the midst of her troubles. She learned to consider it a privilege to suffer for Jesus and do good for others. For Maria DeMattias, the source of her courage and her love was God. In the midst of her busiest times, she still found time for prayer. When she traveled up and down and across the mountains of central Italy, she prayed.

The work that Maria DeMattias began has continued until today. About 2,000 Adorers of the Blood of Christ minister to God's people on every continent. And new members are still coming to continue Maria's work.

Maria was canonized on May 18, 2003. Her feast day is celebrated on February 4.

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