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Gabriel, Colomba Joanna, Bl.


Baptized Joanna Matylda (Matilda) Gabriel; Benedictine nun; founder of the Oblates of Saint Benedict and the Benedictine Sisters of Charity (Sororum Ord. S. Benedicti a Caritate ); b. May 3, 1858, Stanislawow, Poland (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine); d. Sept. 24, 1926, Centacelle (suburb of Rome), Italy. Joanna, born into the Polish nobility, was known in her time as "a woman born for love." She received her education locally and at Leopoldi, where she joined the Benedictines and became Sister Colomba. Called to serve poor working girls, she transferred to Rome (1900), spent time at Subiaco (1902), then returned to Rome (1903). Under the spiritual direction of Dominican Hyacinth cormier, Sister Colomba taught catechism and began visiting the sick and poor of the Roman Prati district. She gathered lay people to assist in her ministry, who became the Benedictine Oblates. In 1908, Colomba established the religious Benedictine Sisters of Charity to open homes and operate charitable programs for the needy of Rome. With the patronage of Italian Queen Elena, Pope Saint pius x and Pope benedict xv, the congregation expanded throughout Italy, to Romania and Madagascar. Colomba was beatified by John Paul II, May 16, 1993.

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1993): 60103.

[k. i. rabenstein]

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