St Bertilla Boscardin
Virgin (A. D. 1888 - 1922)
Saint of the day October 20
St Bertilla was a follower of the “Little way” of St Therese of Lisieux: ailing in health, of slight intellectual capacity, lacking in initiative, but with a balanced and practical judgement and firm will, she was sanctified in the unobtrusive carrying-out of daily duties, whatever they might be. Born into a poor peasant family on 6 October 1888 at Brendola (Italy), she was christened Anna Francesca, but was called Annetta. At the village school which she attended, she was derisively called the “goose”.
She was calm by nature, and when the local priest, Don Capovilla, recognized in her a religious vocation, her pastor, the Archpriest Gresele, initially laughed at the idea but sent her all the same to a convent, which refused her admission. However, at 16, she was accepted by the Sisters of St Dorothy at Vicenza and given the name Maria Bertilla, after the abbess of Chelles.
For a year Sr Maria Bertilla worked in the scullery, the bake- house and the laundry, and then was sent to learn nursing at Treviso, where the Sisters of St Dorothy had the charge of the municipal hospital. But, here she was asked to work as a kitchen- maid till she was promoted to help in the children’s ward. From then on, Bertilla devoted her time to the sick, but soon after she too became ill and for the remaining 12 years of her life was ever in agony on account of a malady that surgery failed to cure and which eventually killed her on 20 October 1922.
Fondly remembered as something of a Florence Nightingale, on the first anniversary of her death a memorial plaque placed in the hospital at Treviso, read: “To Sister Maria ertilla Boscardin, a chosen soul of heroic goodness, who for several years was a truly angelic alleviato1 of human suffering in this place “ Crowds flocked to her first grave at Treviso and then to her tomb at Vicenza.
Miracles of healing attributed to her heavenly intercession led to her beatification on 8 June 1952 in the presence of members of her family and patients whom she had nursed. Less than a decade later, i.e. on 11 May 1961, she was canonized by Pope John XXIII.