Congregation's Important Figures

Venerable Mother Giovanna Maria Bracaval

Mother Giovanna Maria Bracaval of the Eucharistic Lord was born in Mouscron, Belgium, on May 3, 1861 of very pious parents: John Louis Bracaval and Sophia Dessauvages. Her sister Mary, who later became a Clarisse Sister in a convent in Tournai, Belgium, acted as her godmother at Baptism.

While Flora was receiving her education at the Boarding School of the Ladies of Mary Sisters in Mouscron, she soon felt attracted toward religious life, but she could not fulfill her desire to enter into religious life until after the death of her parents who needed their daughter's care in their old age and illness.

Through Father Benedict Nisser, a Barnabite priest, who later on would become Father General, Flora came to know about the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul, who shared with the Barnabite Fathers the founder, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria.
In 1894, she entered the convent of the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul located in Crema, Italy. After a year, she received her habit, and on June 22, 1896, she consecrated herself to God with solemn vows. Her life of prayer and dedication and her uncommon virtues made her capable of high tasks since her first years of religious life. She was Mistress of Novices and Superior of different convents. The most important task was that of being able to bring back her Congregation to active life, the original charism of the Founder, St. Anthony, who wanted her spiritual daughters to be a Congregation dedicated to apostolic work without the bond of the cloister. Elected Superior General of the Congregation, she gave herself more for the community as well as for the people around her. Special care was given to the education of the workmen's children, the orphans, and the abandoned children of World War I.

In 1932, she felt necessary to leave her office to one of the Sisters to prepare herself for her encounter with her Spouse. On January 26, 1935, after a short illness, she died peacefully, giving edification to all who were present at her bedside. Very soon the people who were fortunate enough to have known her, and convinced of her sanctity, started to entreat her, to obtain by her intercession favors from God.
Because of the many favors attributed to her, the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul obtained permission to remove her body from the cemetery to the church near their convent, and to start the procedures for her canonization, hoping that with the prayers of the faifthful people she will soon be proclaimed a Saint.

Angelica Paola Antonia Negri (1508-1555)

Virginia Negri, an Angelic Sister of St. Paul, was born in Castellanza, then a province of Milan, Italy, in 1508. (No precise date is available.) In February 27, 1536, she received the veil from the hands of the Holy Founder, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, who was also then her confessor and spiritual director, and took the name Paola Antonia for her great devotion to the Apostle Paul and in honor to St. Anthony Abbot.
Angelica Paola Antonia Negri, a strong-willed woman, revered as the "Divina Maestra" by all her spiritual sons and daughters, and considered a saint, even by those who would later become her adversaries, guided the three families of the Barnabites, the Angelic Sisters, and the Laity of St. Paul, especially after the death of their founder, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria. She died in Milan, Italy, on April 4, 1555.

Countess Ludovica Torelli (1500-1569)

Along with the imposing and charismatic figure of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Countess Ludovica Torelli co-founded the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul.
"She was the only daughter of Achille Torelli, Count of Guastalla, who died in battle at Luzzara in 1522, making her Countess of Guastalla.

Having lost early her husband Ludovico Stanghi and son Achilli, she remarried in 1525 with Antonio Martinengo, who was murdered on April 18, 1528 by a brother-in-law. Ludovica also escape an assassination attempt by relatives eager to take her possessions.

Ludovica was religious, and had as spiritual guides Fra Battista da Crema and Anthony Mary Zaccaria. She financed many good works in Milan and supported the newly established order of the Barnabites.
Having moved definitively to Milan, she sold on October 3, 1539 the County of Guastalla to Italian condottiero Ferrante Gonzaga for 22, 280 golden scudi."

(Source of text in between quotations: Wikipedia)

Father Pius Mauri (1840-1916)

Father Mauri, a Barnabite priest, was born in Monza on February 12, 1840. It was natural for him to pass from the oratotio to the novitiate because of his young age. Although he had been admitted to the temporary vows on December 4, 1856, his solem profession was delayed until October 22, 1857. Five years later, he was ordained to the priesthood.

In 1864, he was assigned to St. Alexander Sauli to take care of the poor children attending the night classes to learn Christian doctrine and how to write and read. His ability as a preacher became well known and therefore many started to request his services. In 1870, he was transfered to the college of St. Joseph in Monza where, aware of the times, with the help of his own family, he created the "Catholic Society of Mutual Help for Men." In 1873, Father Mauri was transferred to Lodi to exercise again his excellent qualities as a teacher, preacher, and confessor.

During this time, there was a growing mistrust about the canonization of our Founder Anthony Mary Zaccaria, and it seemed that a precious stone was missing from his crown since the Angelic Sisters had been instinct. From the beginning of 1879, there was an exchange of letters between Fr. Mauri and a priest from Lodi about the need of some pious ladies to have a rule to follow. At first they thought to bring from Milan the Sisters called, "The Ladies of Nazareth," but then the priest confided to Fr. Mauri: "Why call others? Let us do something which is our own. You are a religious, then you can put together a rule suited to the need." "No, I am not a saint," Fr, Mauri answered, "to have inspirations for a cloister rule... Rather I have a desire, shared by some others in my Congregation, that is, to reestablish the Order of the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul, which is almost a Barnabite thing because it was instituted by our Venerable Founder."
Father General shortly after approved the idea while the priest provided a house and wrote to two ladies in Cremona who desired a cloister life. They were Antonietta Corbellini and Cristina Caravaggio. They received the letter on the day of Pentecost as they were finishing a novena to the Ven. Anthony Mary Zaccaria to ask the Lord guidance for their vocation. They understood the letter as God's answer to their prayers. On November 21, 1879, feast of the Presentation of Mary, their first five postulants got together in the house in Palestro Street.

Bishop Dominic M. Gelmini instituted the cloister and gave them the Consitutions of the old Angelic Sisters, with the necessary modifications requested by the times. Fr. Mauri was dominated as ecclesiastical assistant, and Corbellini as first Superior. What was needed now was the baptism of trials and suffering.The very priest who had cooperated so much with Fr. Mauri became the first to oppose them. The two postulants from Lodi were not able to adapt themselves to the Rule and so eventually withdrew, "And so that we will reach the point where humanly it would be a total ruin, and so we would admire the prodigy of God who works with nothing. God called to Himself Corbellini who, as an Angelic, went to heaven on November 30, 1880, at the age of 5o."

Mother Cherubina, left alone, did not get discouraged, but followed Bishop Gelmini and Fr. Mauri's guidance. The Barnabites, right at that moment, wanted to dispose themselves of th monastery of St. Mary of the Cross in Crema. Fr. Mauri asked and obtained to give the first choice to the Angelics. They moved in the new house on June 26, 1881. Soon the number of the postulants started to increase; therfore, the next move was to obtain the official approval from Rome, which came on April 21, 1882.

In 1884, to be able to take care of the needs of the Angelics, Fr. Mauri had to move to Crema. In the meantime, the need to move to a more important location arose, and so they approached Cardinal Ferrari in Milan. During the Eucharistic Congress on August 30, 1895, Fr. Mauri accompanied the community in their new residence. He provided also the foundation in Fivizzano and Arienzo.

At this point, the Superiors assigned Fr. Mauri back into their community, precisely to St. Alexander Sauli in Milan. With pain, he obeyed. The following year, October 1909, the General Chapter made him Superior of St. Like in Cremona, then in Monza as Vicar, and in St. Barnabas as Master of the students.

He tirelessly gave himself to all kind of apostolic activities as preacher, confessor, retreat master, etc. Although very healthy, he was caught by death, at the age of 76, on March 4, 1916.

Biographical Notes:

The Resurgence of the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul

The last Angelic Sister, Maria Teresa Trotti Bentivoglio died in 1846. However, Divine Providence was preparing the rebirth of such venerable and meritorous religious family through Fr. Pius Mauri.

The Angelic Sisters got themselves as an embryonic religious community in a tiny dwelling in Lodi on November 21, 1879.