Rubatto, Maria Francesca, Bl.

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Baptized Anna Maria, also known as Sister Mary Frances of Jesus; missionary of the Institute of Capuchin Sisters of Loano (of Mother Rubatto); b. Feb. 14, 1844, Carmagnola, Italy; d. Aug. 6, 1904, Montevideo, Uruguay.

After losing both her father (d. 1848) and mother (d.1863) before she was twenty, Ana Maria Rubatto moved to Turin. Although she had little formal education, she was intellectually gifted. In the Piedmontese capital, she befriended noblewoman Marianna Scoffone, who soon became her patroness. Scoffone provided Ana Maria the time and means to teach children's catechism in several parishes, visit the sick in Cottolengo Hospital, and tend to the needs of the suffering.

Following Scoffone's death in 1882, Ana Maria discerned her true vocation. An act of charity for an injured worker brought Ana Maria to the attention of a newly forming community of women in Loano. They recognized her as the leader for whom they were praying. She joined the sisters in Loano in 1885, took the name Maria Francesca of Jesus, and, under the obedience to Bishop Filippo Allegro, became their superior. The congregation quickly expanded to Genoa (1888) and San Remo Italy,(1888), and Montevideo, Uruguay (1892). They also established missions in Argentina and deep within the Brazilian rainforest. Mother Rubatto crossed the Atlantic seven times in order to be with her daughters on both sides of the ocean, opening 18 houses in 20 years. She remained in America most of the last eight of her 39 years.

Mother Rubatto, known for her concrete love of the poor, was buried in Montevideo. She was beatified by John Paul II, Oct. 10, 1993.

Feast: Aug. 6.

[k. i. rabenstein]