Find Out the True Story of This Amazing Woman Here
The Catholic Church is called “Catholic” because she is universal - unchanging in every time and circumstance. She encompasses the whole world, the entire human race, and nowhere is this more evident when we consider that the roster of saints includes all sorts of people: popes, nuns, married and single, kings and queens, paupers, teachers, monks. One beautiful example of a woman who achieved great holiness through living out her vocation to the Sacrament of Matrimony is Blessed Anna Maria Taigi.
The Beginning of Anna Maria's Journey
Born in Siena, Italy in 1769, Anna Maria lived the life of any young Italian girl of the time, duly obedient to her parents Luigi and Maria, who were pharmacists. After Luigi lost his fortune, the family was obliged to move to Rome, where Anna Maria came into contact with the Sisters of St. Lucy Filippini, whose school she attended. Her mother prepared her well for the duties required of a housewife, and in 1789 she married Domenico Taigi. Together they had seven children, of whom only four lived to adulthood.
Anna Maria did not seem particulary inclined to holiness in the first 20 years of her life. She was a good wife and mother, taking care of her children and supporting her husband, although interiorly she lacked a rich spiritual life. However, a profound change came upon her when she visited St. Peter’s Basilica with her husband in the winter of 1790. Upon seeing a humble priest of the Servite order, she couldn’t help but notice the difference between his simple and unassuming demeanor and manner of dressing, and the fine and lavish clothes she was wearing. The sight of that priest inspired her to be ashamed of her worldliness. As she entered the confessional, Anna Maria suddenly felt an urge to renounce the earthly pomp and pleasures that she had previously embraced, and to choose instead a life of charity and asceticism.
This simple witness of the Servite priest, and Anna Maria’s ensuing commitment to reform her habits, turned out to be the turning point of her life. Not long after this, she had a mystical experience. As she knelt in prayer in a church in Rome, she heard the voice of Jesus offering her two paths: one of glory and ease, the other of carrying His cross in hardship and suffering. He asked her: “What is your wish? To follow Jesus poor and naked and stripped of all, or to follow Him in His triumph and glory? Which do you choose?” Anna Maria chose the path that Christ Himself had chosen, the path of suffering, and from that day on she rededicated herself to serving both her family and the poor.
After her mystical experiences in Rome and St. Peter’s, Anna Maria’s life was never the same. Her children were raised to love the faith, and the family was able to have daily Mass, thanks to a priest friend who lived with them for a time. In 1802 she joined the Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives - more commonly known as the Trinitarians - as a professed member. She spent much of her time visiting the sick in hospitals. She took special care to visit those who were the worst off, frequently visiting the hospital known as San Giacomo of the Incurables. Through this she lived out her promise to Christ that she would follow Him on the road of suffering.
Perhaps due to her husband’s connections, Anna Maria ended up coming into contact with and befriending a number of cardinals and Popes. Among her acquaintances were Cardinals Luigi Ercolani and Carlo Pedicini, as well as Popes Pius VII, Pius IX, and Leo XII. In fact, in 1809 Pope Pius VII even granted an indulgence to anyone who devoutly recited a prayer that Anna Maria had composed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Anna Maria was said to have received prophetic news events concerning several Pontiffs. As Pope Leo XII lay on his deathbed in 1829, Anna Maria received a vision of the sun, and heard the voice of God telling her: “Arise and pray. My Vicar is on the point of coming to render an account to Me.” She was told beforehand of the death of Pope Leo’s successor, Pope Pius VIII, as well as the election of Cardinal Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, who would take the Papal name of Gregory XVI.
In October of 1836 Anna Maria became ill and was confined to her bed, where she would remain for many more months, until her death. Despite her poor health, she was able to receive Viaticum and Anointing of the Sick shortly before her death, which occurred on June 9, 1837.
Both during her lifetime and in the years following her death, Anna Maria’s kindness to the poor and ill and her prophetic visions were well-known. Two days after her death, her body was buried in the Campo Verano Cemetery in Rome, by order of Pope Gregory XVI. Monsignor Raffaele Natali, who had been a spiritual advisor of hers during her lifetime, quickly compiled a number of documents relating to her life and experiences, for the purposes of publication as a biography of her life. Of Anna Maria, Venerable Bernardo Clausi was said to have exclaimed, “If she is not in Heaven, there is no room there for anybody.” The process of her beatification was formally opened in 1852, and she was beatified by Pope Benedict XV on May 30, 1920.
The life of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi is a stunning example to us today of how holiness can and should be achieved in any state in life, and is not reserved only for priests and religious. Dutifully obedient to her parents in early life, devoted to her husband despite his being known for his temper, and dedicated to the spiritual and physical well-being of her own children, Anna Maria even went above and beyond the “call of duty” in her service to others. She did not use her lifestyle and her obligations as an excuse for withholding charity from people outside of her own household. Along with her duties to her family, she also served and ministered to the poor, the ill, and the forgotten. In this she greatly exemplified the life of one who has Jesus Christ as her guide and teacher. With her feast day approaching on June 9, we would all do well to learn from the life of Anna Maria Taigi, and rededicate ourselves to bringing Christ to all we meet, both in our homes and out in the world.
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Header Image: Anne-Marie Taigi (Basilique Saint-Chrysogone/Mallowtek