Cittadini, Caterina, Bl.

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Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca; b. Sept. 28, 1801, Bergamo, Italy, d. May 5, 1857, Somasca, Diocese of Bergamo. After the death of Caterina's mother Margherita Lanzani, in 1808, her father, Giovanni Battista, placed her and her sister Giuditta (b. 1803) in the convent orphanage of Bergamo when he was called to military service. There they received an intensely Christian formation and attained teaching diplomas. While living with two priestly cousins in Calolzio (182325), the sisters were provided additional spiritual direction, recognized religious vocations, and were guided to found a new religious order in Somasca.

In 1926, with financial help from their cousin Fr. Antonio Cittadini, the sisters moved to a rented house in Somasca, where they purchased a building in October that would become a boarding school for poor children and the motherhouse for the Ursuline Sisters. Much admired for the fervor and commitment Caterina exhibited while continuing to teach in the public elementary school, the sisters' boarding school soon filled and a second private school was established (1836). Caterina's influence was spread by her graduates who returned to their home towns to erect similar schools and extend the charity taught by the Cittadinis.

Her life was not without suffering. Following the death of Giuditta (1840) and her spiritual director (1841), Caterina herself fell gravely ill (1842). Miraculously cured, she again taught in the public school until retiring in 1845 to dedicate herself entirely to the boarding school, orphanage, and developing religious community for which she wrote a constitution in 1844. Although Pius IX permitted the community to erect a private oratory with a Tabernacle (1850), the bishop initially denied approval for the establishment of religious order in 1851 and 1854. Shortly after her death, the institute and its rule were approved by the bishop (Dec. 14, 1857), and later by the Vatican (July 8, 1927). Today the Ursulines of Somasca labor in Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Philippines, and Switzerland.

Following the conclusion of the diocesan process for beatification in Bergamo (196778), the cause was opened in Rome (Jan. 2, 1979). Pope John Paul II declared her venerable (Dec. 17, 1996), approved the miraculous healing of Samuele Piovani attributed to her intercession (Dec. 20, 1999), and beatified her (April 29, 2001).

Feast: May 5.

Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. Ed. 18 (2001), 1, 68; 19 (2001), 7, 10.

[k. i. rabenstein]

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Cittadini, Caterina, Bl.

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