Fornari-Strata, Maria Victoria, Bl.

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Widow, foundress and abbess; b. Genoa, Italy, 1562;d. there, Dec. 15, 1617. In 1589 after nine years of marriage to Angelo Strata (Strada), she was widowed; she made a vow of chastity and lived quietly with her six children until they were settled in life. Five of them became religious; the sons, Franciscans; the daughters, Regular Canonesses. She was then free to carry out her desire to found an order of contemplative nuns devoted to the mystery of Mary's Annunciation and hidden life in Nazareth. Through the financial assistance of Vincenza Lomellini, she built a convent, and Bernardino Zannoni, SJ, drew up the constitutions, which were approved by clement viii on March 15, 1604. Maria Victoria and ten companions were clothed in the habit; a year later they made solemn vows (Sept. 7, 1605). Each nun added "Maria Annunziata" to her baptismal name, and the order became known as the "Celestial Annunciades" from their sky-blue scapulars and mantles to distinguish them from the order founded by St. joan of france (valois). The Italians called them "Le Turchine" or "Blue Nuns." The order spread to Pontarlier (1612) and Vezou (1613) in Burgundy and then to Germany. The cloister is unusually rigid; the nuns devote their time to making vestments and altar linens for poor churches. Pope leo xii beatified Maria Victoria in 1828.

Feast: Sept. 12.

Bibliography: f. a. spinola, Vita di Maria Vittoria (Genoa 1649). f. du mortier, La Bienheureuse Marie-Victoire Fornari, fondatrice des Annonciades célestes (Paris 1902). c. w. currier, History of Religious Orders (New York 1896) 406408. p. fournier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart (Paris 1912) 3:409412. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 3:547548.

[g. m. gray]