Frassinello, Benedetta Cambiagio, Bl.
FRASSINELLO, BENEDETTA CAMBIAGIO, BL.
Married woman, founder of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence (Benedettine della Provvidenza); b. Oct. 2, 1791, Langasco (near Genoa), Italy; d. March 21, 1858, Ronco Scrivia, Italy. She was the daughter of Giuseppe and Francesca Cambiagio, who moved to Pavia while Benedetta was still young. Following a mystical experience in 1811, Benedetta wanted to devote herself to prayer in a convent, but instead she complied with her family's wishes and married Giovanni Battista Frassinello (Feb. 7, 1816). In 1818, the couple agreed to live together in perpetual continence while caring for Benedetta's younger sister Maria, who suffered from intestinal cancer. Following her death (1825), they both chose to enter religious life: Giovanni joined the Somachi, while Benedetta took the habit of the Ursulines. Illness forced Benedetta to leave the convent and return to Pavia, where she decided to help abandoned girls. Giovanni left his monastery also to assist her in this task. Although Benedetta was appointed "Promoter of Public Instruction" and they publicly vowed perfect chastity, the couple suffered criticism for their unusual relationship. That impelled them to turn over their work to the bishop (1838) and retire to the village of Ronco Scrivia. In 1833, with her husband and five companions, Benedetta founded the educational Institute of Benedictine Sisters of Providence, which continues its work in Italy and Peru. Benedetta was beatified at Rome by Pope John Paul II, May 10, 1987.
Feast: May 10.
Bibliography: g. guderzo, Iproblemi socioeconomici di Pavia 'restaurata' ela risposta religiosa di Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, Studie fonti di Storia lombarda. Quaderni milanesi 17–18 (1989) 56–73. Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1987, 690. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed., 21 (1987) 18–19.
[k. i. rabenstein]