Visintainer, Amabile Lucia, Bl.

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Religious name: Mother Paulina of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus (Paolina del Cuore Agonizzante di Gesú); foundress of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception (Irmazinhas da Imaculada Conceiçao ); b. Vigolo Vattaro, Trentino, Italy (then Austria) Dec.16, 1865; d. Sao Paolo, Brazil, July 9, 1942. For two years before emigrating to Brazil with her family (1875), Amabile, the daughter of Antonio Napoleone Visintainer and Anna Pianezzer, worked in the local silk mill. With other immigrants they established the village of Vigolo (now part of Nova Trento, sixty miles from Florianópolis) in Santa Catarina Province. Upon her mother's death in 1886, Amabile assumed household responsibilities and cared for her twelve siblings.

When her father remarried, Amabile was free to respond to her recurring dream of religious life. Together with Virginia Nicolodi and Teresa Maoli, Amabile pronounced religious vows on Dec. 7, 1895, before Bishop José de Camargo Barros of Curitaiba, and assumed the name Paolina. The bishop approved the religious order that began in 1890 with Amabile and Virginia nursing a woman with cancer in an abandoned shack.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception soon spread to nearby towns and to Sao Paolo where they directed hospitals and asylums and assisted the recently emancipated slaves. In 1909, after difficult internal conflicts in the order, Mother Paolina accepted her removal from the office of mother general "ad vitam" by the archbishop, Duarte Leopoldo da Silva.

For the next ten years she humbly served her sisters at Santa Casa de Bragança Paulista and remained assiduous in prayer. Although she never reclaimed her office as superior, Mother Paolina's reputation was rehabilitated, and she was venerated during her lifetime as the congregation's founder. Beginning in 1938, she suffered complications from illness and cancer that lead to her death.

Upon her beatification (Oct. 18, 1991) by Pope John Paul II at Florianópolis, Sao Paulo, Brazil, she became the first Brazilian citizen to be raised to the altars. On July 7, 2001, Pope John Paul II approved the miracle necessary for canonization.

Feast: July 9 (Bolzano).

Bibliography: f. a. farace, Love's Harvest: The Life of Blessed Pauline, ed. j. kindel and b. lewis (Milford, Ohio 1994). L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 19 (1995): 6.

[k. i. rabenstein]