Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus
Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, C.I.I.C.
Portrait of Saint Pauline
|Religious and foundress|
December 16, 1865|
Vigolo Vattaro, County of Tyrol, Austria-Hungary
|Died||July 9, 1942
Ipiranga, São Paulo (state), Brazil
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
(Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Brazil)
|Beatified||18 October 1991, Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, by Pope John Paul II|
|Canonized||May 19, 2002, Vatican City, by Pope John Paul II|
|Major shrine||Sanctuary of St. Pauline, Nova Trento, Santa Catarina, Brazil.|
Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, C.I.I.C. (December 16, 1865 – July 9, 1942), was an immigrant from Austria-Hungary to Brazil, who became the foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Religious Sisters who serve the poor. She became the first Brazilian to be proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church, when she was canonized on 19 May 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Pauline suffered from diabetes for much of her life and is considered by some to be a patron saint of diabetics.
She was born Amabile Lucia Visintainer on December 16, 1865, the second daughter of Antonio Napoleone Visintainer and Anna Pianezzer in the town of Vigolo Vattaro, then in the County of Tyrol, part of Austro-Hungary, now in Italy. Her ancestors were Germanic, who had settled in the region of Vigolo Vattaro as early as 1491, their surname being originally spelled Wiesenteiner.
Like many others in the area, the Visintainer family was very poor but practicing Catholics. In September 1875, the family, along with a hundred other people of the town, about a fifth of its population, emigrated to the State of Santa Catarina in Brazil, where they founded the village of Vigolo, now part of Nova Trento. She was known even at a youthful age for her piety and charity. From an early age she spoke of giving her life to God. She had very little intellectual education, but a great love for the Catholic faith and for the suffering and poor. After receiving her First Communion at about age 12, she began to participate in the life of the local parish, teaching catechism to children, visiting the sick and cleaning the local chapel.
On 12 July 1890, Visintainer and her friend, Virginia Rosa Nicolodi, under the spiritual direction of a Jesuit priest, Luigi Rossi, committed their lives to religious service, under dedication to the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. They began by caring for a woman suffering from terminal cancer, in a small house was which was donated to the small community and the young girls began a schedule of religious living. After the woman's death the following year, they were joined by a third friend, Teresa Anna Maule.
In 1895, Rossi and Visintainer, seeing the need for a more formal and secure organization of the young women coming to them, decided to establish a religious congregation called the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, which was approved by José de Camargo Barros, Bishop of Curitiba. In December of that same year, the founding trio took religious vows. Visintainer took the religious name by which she is now known. The congregation, Brazil's first locally founded, grew quickly throughout the state, and in 1903 Pauline was elected their Superior General for life. She moved from Nova Trento to Ipiranga, São Paulo, where she opened a convent of the congregation in order to take care of orphans, the children of former slaves – slavery having been ended by the Empire of Brazil only in 1888, and aged slaves who had been left to die because they could no longer work.
In 1909 Mother Pauline was removed from her position as Superior General by Duarte Leopoldo e Silva, Archbishop of São Paulo, following a series of disputes within the congregation. She was sent to work with the sick at the Santa Casa and the elderly of the Hospice of St. Vincent de Paul at Bragança Paulista, without being able to assume an active role in her own congregation. She spent her spare time praying in support of the congregation. In 1918, with the permission of Archbishop Duarte, she was brought back by the Superior General, Mother Vicência Teodora, C.I.I.C., to live at the General Motherhouse of the congregation at Ipiranga, where she would remain until her death. Mother Pauline was acknowledged as the "Venerable Mother Foundress", when the Decree of Praise was granted by Pope Pius XI on 19 May 1933 to the Congregation of the Little Sisters, establishing it as one of pontifical right.
Mother Pauline's health began a long, slow decline in 1938, as she fought a losing battle with diabetes. In two operations, first her middle finger and then her right arm were amputated. She spent the last months of her life totally blind. On 9 July 1942 she died with the last words, "God's will be done".
Mother Pauline was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 18 October 1991, during his visit to Florianopolis. For her beatification, three relics were made from the fingerbones of her remaining hand. One was given to Pope John Paul, the second to the convent where she had lived, and the other to her relations, Albert Visintainer and his family of Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, United States. This can be seen at the St. Pauline Visintainer Center in Kulpmont, Pennsylvania.
Pope John Paul II later canonized Mother Paulina on 19 May 2002 in a ceremony in Saint Peter's Square, where she became the first Brazilian female saint. Hundreds of Brazilians, including then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, attended the event.
Her feast day is July 9.
- (en) Saint Paulina do Coração Agonizante de Jesus at the Catholic Forum.
- "Paulina do Coração Agonizante de Jesus". Vatican News Service.
- (en) Farace, Love's Harvest, p. 108
- "Brief Biography". Saint Pauline Foundation.
- "Biografia". Congregação da Irmãzinhas da Imaculada Conceição (in Portuguese).
- "Brazil gets first female saint". BBC News. May 19, 2002.
- "St. Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus", Saints Resource, RCL Benziger
- (en) Frederick A. Farace, S.T.L., Love's Harvest: The Life of Blessed Pauline, published 1994 (Milford, Ohio, USA: Faith Publishing Co., 1997) ISBN 1-877678-31-7
- (pt) Gesiel [Theodoro da Silva] Júnior, Madre Paulina – Uma holy passou por Avaré [One Saint just for Avaré] (Avaré, Brazil: Editions Gril, 2002)
- (it) Célia B[astiana]. Cadorin, Essere per gli altri - Cronistoria di Madre Paolina del Cuore Agonizzante di Gesù [Be for others - Biography of Mother Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus] (Vigolo Vattaro, Trentino, Italy: Congregazione Piccole Suore dell'Immacola Concezione, Casa Madre Paolina [Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, House of Mother Pauline], 1989)
- (it) Guido Lorenzi, La Beata Madre Paolina - fra carisma e obbedienza [Blessed Mother Pauline – Between Charisma and Obedience]. (Milan: Edizioni Àncora, 1991) ISBN 88-7610-383-X
- (it) Anonymous, Piccola storia di una grande Santa [Little Story of a Great Saint] (Trento, Italy: Vita Trentina Editrice [Trentino Life Publishing], 2002)
- (en) Saint Paulina at Catholic Forum
- (en) Saint Paulina of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus @ Everything2.com at www.everything2.com