Centurione Bracelli, Virginia, Bl.
CENTURIONE BRACELLI, VIRGINIA, BL.
Foundress of the Brignoline Sisters; b. Genoa, Italy, April 2, 1587; d. Genoa, Dec. 15, 1651. At age 15, Virginia complied with the wish of her father, the doge of Genoa, and married Gasparo Grimaldi Bracelli. She was left a widow with two daughters when she was 20 years old. During a famine she opened her palace, which she called Santa Maria del Refugio dei Tribolati, to abandoned children and those in distress. In 1619, the women who worked with her in the apostolate bound themselves by a solemn promise of perseverance to a common life under the Franciscan Rule. The Daughters of Our Lady of Mount Calvary, known as the Brignoline Sisters, opened their second house (1641) through the munificence of the Marquess Emmanuele Brignole and soon spread throughout northern Italy. The sisters were invited to Rome in 1815 and moved the motherhouse to the Esquiline Hill near St. Norbert's Church in 1833. In addition to founding the Brignolines, Mother Virginia organized a group to maintain Genoa's Madonnette, about 900 sacred images of the Virgin Mary recessed into the outer walls of guild halls and houses throughout the city. She was beatified at Genoa by John Paul II, Sept. 22, 1985.
Feast: Dec. 15.
Bibliography: r. magaglio, Una patrizia genovese antesignana della moderna assistenza sociale: cenni biografici sulla serva di Dio Virginia Centurione Bracelli (1587–1651) nel centenario della sua traslazione dal Convento di Brignole alla Chiesa del conservatorio di Marassi (1872–1972) (Genoa 1972). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1986): 968–971. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 40(1985): 5,8.
[k. i. rabenstein]