Fornari, Maria Victoria (1562–1617)

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Fornari, Maria Victoria (1562–1617)

Founding member of the order of Celestial Annunciades, honoring the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin (1604). Born Maria Victoria Fornari in 1562 in Genoa, Italy; died in 1617; married Angelo Strata, in 1579 (died 1587); children: six.

Blessed Maria Victoria Fornari, born in 1562 in Genoa, Italy, was happily married for eight years to Angelo Strata. Then, with five small children and a sixth on the way, she was widowed in 1587. In desperation, she prayed before a statue of the Mary the Virgin , who, as she later recounted, held out her arms and said: "Victoria, my daughter, do not fear; it is I who will henceforth take care of your home." Over the course of the next 16 years, Fornari raised her family and devoted her life to good works. When all her children had grown and entered the religious life, she carried out her long-time dream of endowing her native town with a convent consecrated to the honor of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. After approval from Clement VIII , the convent was erected, and on August 5, 1604, Fornari and several companions received the white tunic, blue scapular, belt, and cape that would define the order of Celestial Annunciades. (Another order of Annunciades—the Franciscans—was founded by Jeanne de France , the spurned wife of Louis XII.) Fornari served for six years as abbess of the convent before retiring from her official duties to live out her life as a nun. Five convents of the Celestial Annunciades are still in existence today, three in Italy and two in France.

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