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Who is Blessed Anna Maria Taigi?

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Blessed Anna Maria Taigi - The Catholic Weekly
Coffin of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

Anna Maria was born in 1769 in Siena, Italy, into a poor, working class family. She was the only child of her parents Luigi Giannetti and Maria Masi. Luigi worked in a pharmacy but in 1774 he lost his fortune and the family moved to Rome, where he found work as a household servant.

Anna Maria attended a school there run by the Filippini Sisters for two years until the age of seven, and then worked as a domestic servant to help provide for her family.

In 1789 she married Domenico Taigi, who worked as a butler for a noble family. He had a very bad temper, which helped Anna Maria grow in the virtues, especially in patience and forgiveness. They had seven children, three of whom died in infancy.

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When her father died, Anna Maria welcomed her mother into the family home. Later, when her daughter Sofia’s husband died, she invited Sofia and her six children to live with them too, such was her generosity.

On one occasion, when Anna Maria was praying before a crucifix in the church of San Andrea della Valle, she heard the voice of Jesus asking her what her wish was: was it to follow Jesus, poor and naked and stripped of everything, or to follow him in his triumph and glory?

She replied, “I embrace the cross of my Jesus. I will carry it like him in pain and ignominy. I await at his hands triumph and glory in the hereafter.”

After this, she gave up her life of worldliness, with its jewelry, and began to wear the plainest of clothing. She took to doing severe penances, but her confessor advised her to seek holiness rather through the fulfilment of her duties as a wife and mother.

In 1802 she became a professed member of the Secular Trinitarians and began frequenting hospitals and helping the patients there. At about this time she was given the grace until her death to see in a globe like the bright sun persons and events near and far, present and future.

For example, she knew of Pope Leo XII’s ill health and, before he died in 1829, she heard a heavenly voice say: “Arise and pray. My vicar is on the point of coming to render an account to me.”

Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

She foresaw that Pope Pius VII would return from captivity to Rome, that Pope Pius VIII would have a short pontificate, as in fact he did, and that Cardinal Bartolomeo Cappellari would be elected as Pope Gregory XVI.

She began to have frequent ecstasies and she became known for her deep piety. People of all sorts, rich and poor, princes of the church, kings and queens, popes and saints visited her and sought her advice. Through all of this, she remained faithful to her duties as a wife and mother.

On 20 May 1836, Anna Maria went to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, where she confided to a friend that this would be her last visit there. She died just over a year later, on 9 June 1837, at the age of 68. She was buried in the Campo Verano cemetery where, on the orders of Pope Gregory XVI, her body was enclosed in a leaden casket with seals affixed to it.

Cardinal Odescalchi asked that all the documents referring to her be collected so that a biography could be written. Cardinal Micara always kept an image of her on his person, and the Minim priest Bernardo Clausi said of her: “If she is not in heaven, there is no room there for anybody.”

Her cause of beatification and canonisation was opened in 1852 and two miracles attributed to her intercession were approved, paving the way for her beatification by Pope Benedict XV in May, 1920.

Among the witnesses interviewed for her cause were her husband Domenico and two of her daughters, along with many cardinals and bishops.

Her feast is celebrated on 9 June, the day of her death. Pope Benedict XV declared her the special protectress of mothers of families and the patroness of the Catholic Women’s Union.

Her remains now lie in the Basilica of San Chrysogono in Rome.

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