Cerioli, Costanza, Bl.

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Religious foundress; b. Soncino (Cremona), Italy, Jan. 28, 1816; d. Comonte di Seriate (Bergamo), Dec. 24, 1865. She was the daughter of the wealthy Count Francesco Cerioli. After attending the school run by the Visitandines in Bergamo (182632), she married the sexagenarian Gaetano Buzzechi Tassis, a noble and wealthy widower (1835). The disparity in age and spiritual outlook between wife and husband, the latter's ill health, and the premature deaths of their three children, only one of whom reached adolescence, were trials that Costanza bore patiently. After Gaetano's death (1854), his widow dedicated her wealth and energies to works of charity. She began caring for rural orphan girls in her home and kept increasing the number of persons who supervised their formation as the number of children grew. In 1857 she founded the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bergamo to carry on this work and took Paola Elisabetta as her name in religion. To care for orphaned boys she founded, with the help of Giovanni Capponi, the Brothers of the Holy Family. Costanza wrote the rules for both congregations, which were approved by the Holy See. She was beatified March 19, 1950.

Feast: Dec. 24.

Bibliography: e. federici, Suor Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, Vedova Buzecchi-Tassis (Comonte di Seriate 1948). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 4:606607.

[v. a. lapomarda]