Virginia Centurione Bracelli
|Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli|
April 2, 1587|
|Died||December 15, 1651
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||September 22, 1985 by Pope John Paul II|
|Canonized||May 18, 2003 by Pope John Paul II|
Despite her desire to live a cloistered life, she was forced into marriage to Gaspare Grimaldi Bracelli, a wealthy noble on December 10, 1602. She had two daughters: Lelia and Isabella. The marriage did not last long. She became a widow on June 13, 1607, at the age of 20. She refused another arranged marriage brought on by her father and took up a vow of chastity.
After her husband's death she began charitable works and assisted the needy and sick. To help alleviate the poverty in her town, she founded the Cento Signore della Misericordia Protettrici dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo. The center was soon overrun with people suffering from the famine and plague of 1629–1630 and soon she had to rent the Monte Calvario convent to accommodate all the people. By 1635 the center was caring for over 300 patients and received recognition as a hospital from the government. Due to declining funds given by the middle and upper classes, the Institute lost its government recognition in 1647.
She spent the remainder of her life acting as a peacemaker between noble houses and continuing her work for the poor. Virginia Bracelli died on December 15, 1651, at the age of 64.
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