Gattorno, Rosa Maria Benedetta, Bl.

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Also known as Anna Rosa Gattorno; widow, mother, founder of the Institute of Daughters of St. Anne; b. Oct. 14, 1841, Genoa, Italy; d. May 6, 1900, Rome. One of six children born to Francesco Gattorno and Adelaide Campanella, Rosa was educated at home. She married her cousin Gerolamo Custo (November 5, 1852) and gave birth to three children (185357). Gerolamo's death from tuberculosis (1858) left her with continued financial problems and a sickly, deaf-mute eldest daughter. Her youngest child died the same year. Though grief-stricken, Rosa offered herself in charitable service and care of her two surviving children. She privately vowed perpetual chastity and obedience (1858), then added a vow of poverty (1861). Even during her marriage, Rosa grew spiritually through daily Communion and the gift of a hidden stigmata. As her reputation for holiness increased, she was chosen president of the Pious Union of the New Ursuline Daughters of Mary Immaculate and revised its rule (1864).

This revision led her to consider founding a new religious order, but she was torn between her duty to her children and her new heightened sense of religious vocation. She sought advice from her confessor, the archbishop of Genoa, St. Francis of Camporosso and Pope Pius IX (1866), and then decided to establish the Institute of Daughters of St. Anne. The new foundation was made in Piacenza, Dec. 8, 1866, with the help of Giovanni Battista Tornatore, CM. Rosa received the habit in 1867 and was professed with 11 other sisters in 1870. The institute, dedicated to working with disadvantaged youth, received approval in 1879, as did the rule in 1892. She collaborated with Giovanni Battista scalabrini in ministering to the speech and hearing impaired. She contracted a virulent influenza in February 1900, died the following month, and was buried in the church adjoining the generalate.

The institute expanded before and after Mother Rosa's death throughout Europe to South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Oceania, where the sisters have been engaging in evangelization, catechesis, and assistance to the poor including drug rehabilitation centers, schools, daycare centers, and homes for the elderly. Her charism has expanded to include contemplative sisters, an association of priests (Sons of St. Anne), a secular institute, and a lay association (Movement of Hope). She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 9, 2000.

Feast: May 6.

Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed., no. 16 (2000): 3.

[k. i. rabenstein]