Blessed Anna Maria Taigi was born in Siena, Italy on May 29, 1769. Her parents, Luigi Giannetti and Maria Masi were of a poor, working class family, and Anna was of Italian and Tuscan blood. She was Baptised Anna Maria Antonia Gesualda on the day after her birth. Due to the collapse of her fathers buisness, when she was 6 years old she moved with her parents to Rome, where she remained the rest of her life .
In Rome, Anna Maria (she was nicknamed “Annette”) attended for 2 years parochial school of the Filippini Sisters the “good Mistresses” as they were called. Following her schooling, she worked as a household maid and several other non-skilled occupations in an effort to help with the family finances. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, she seemed to be of average piety and spirituality.
At age 20, on January 7, 1790, she married Domenico Taigi, who was a poor porter or “servant” of the chef for Prince Chigi. Domenico’s morals and piety were very good, but he had a terrible temper. Or, as the decree for Anna’s Beatification puts it “his [Domenico] manners were rough and uncultured and his temperment undesirable.” His brusque and turbulent manner and quick temper caused Anna much suffering, but it also caused her to exercise her virtue of patience, meekeness, humility and forgiveness. She learned that a smile and silence often appeased his wrath. He never was physically abusive to her, but he certainly was a tyrant at times. Nevertheless, he loved her deeply, as once can easily detect the frank and sincere testimonies that he gave during the official process of her Beatification. As the years progressed, bore seven children, three of whom died in childhood. The remaining two boys and two girls grew to maturity with her ever attentive concern for both their religious and moral upbringing, along with their secular education.
The Call of God- Her deep conversion
Describing her life as a young wife, one source states “"Chaste in morals, attached to her wifely duties, Anna-Maria yet lived more for the world than for God.” However, an increasing sense of spiritual disturbance began to mingle with Anna's frivolities and worldliness. One day she went to the Basilica of St. Peter's. There was a great throng. She was leaning on the arm of her husband, all radiant and decked with her prettiest necklaces. They were in the piazza, surrounded by Bernini's colonnade. The jostling of the crowd threw her against one Father Angelo, a Servite. He had never seen the young woman before, but he heard an interior voice say: "Notice that woman, for I wiII one day confide her to your care and you will work for her transformation. She shall sanctify herself, for I have chosen her to become a saint."
Eventually Anna Maria made up her mind to leave her worldliness aside and to make a good confession, so she went to a neighboring church, seeking in confession the solution to her unsettled conscious. She chose a confessional surrounded by numerous penitents, but on entering it in her turn tears overcame her, and she cries: "Father, you have at your feet a great sinner." The priest wondered for a moment who the unknown might be, and then said brusquely:
"Go away; you are not one of my penitent." However, he consented to hear a hasty recital. Yet discovering nothing to justify her passionate outburst, he gave her absolution and curtly slammed back the slide, leaving the unfortunate woman more troubled than ever.
There followed a period of discouragement. In a soul of poorer caliber the matter might have had a tragic ending; in truth it had an ending as fortunate as that of St. Teresa of Avila, so misunderstood and mishandled by one confessor after another.
After having savored this humiliation, Anna returned to pray in the church of St. Marcellus, where she had been married. Entering one of the confessionals in trepidation, she found herself in the presence of the curate, a religious of the Servite Order, Father Angelo Verandi. It was he who in the piazza in front of St. Peter‘s had heard the Lords voice say to him: "Take notice of that woman .... I am calling her to sanctity."
Now, our Lord enabled him to recognise her: "So you have come at last my daughter," he said. "Our Lord loves you and wants you to be wholly His" and he told her of the message he had received before at St. Peter's. Anna had spent three years in vain worldly triflings, and now a new life was to begin. Concerning Anna’s spiritual direction, Father Angelo needed it to undertake a task so infinitely delicate. For Anna Taigi was neither a Carmelite Nun nor a devout widow, but the young wife of Domenico, by whom she was to have seven children in a dozen years. There lay her essential duty. Everything else: penances, prayers, miracles, ecstasies, could play their part only in so far as the obligations of her state would allow. Consequently it was no good for Father Angelo just to re-read St. Teresa; he had to have, together with mystical learning, a robust common sense and a profound humility to guide this young mother and wife.
The first demand of the Master was purification: to that end God immediately gave Anna a keen conscience of her own weaknesses and misery. St. Catherine of Genoa describes these terrible enlightenments given by God concerning our sins by saying:
"He finds fault with everything."
This spirit of penance, so far as the Beata was concerned, dated from the moment of her confession at St. Marcellus, and was never to leave her. Upon returning home, she prostrated herself before the new little altar that she had made in her room, gave herself a pitiless scourging and beat her head severely many times on the floor till the blood came. Father Angelo soon had to check this thirst for penance and austerities and to remind her she was a wife and mother and that such extraordinary penances were not her duty—her duty must lie in the holy fulfillment of her state in life.
The ever-present difficulty was that her husband Domenico was no St. Joseph. The first of Anna's miracles was to get him to consent to forgo all those luxuries in which he led the way and sought her participation. Wonderful to say, he surprisingly became resigned to the holy will of his wife.
"About a year after our marriage," he says in his official deposition, "the Servant of God, while yet in the flower of her youth, gave up for the love of God, all the jewelry she used to wear--rings, ear-rings, necklaces, and so on, and took to wearing the plainest possible clothing. She asked my permission for this, and I gave it to her with all my heart, for I saw she was entirely given to the love of God."
This miracle of grace moves one more than the cure of incurables, of which we are yet to recount. "I have chosen her .... I call her to sanctity." -Such was the message of our Lord as heard by Father Angelo. God had decreed that this woman of twenty-one years, who was suckling a new-born baby, was to be a Saint and a great help for the Church.
Anna begins to hear an inner Voice
Not long after her fervent coming to God, our Lord pointed out the first step in her ascent to Him- The enormous value of simplicity and charity towards others:
"Remember that you must be prudent in everything. The devil, My daughter, is a spirit of contradiction. He who is under the devil’s influence cannot rest either day or night. My spirit, on the other hand, is a spirit of love and peace, full of condescension for everything that is not sin. Who possesses My peace, possesses all things: Many souls do severe penance in order to reach this great good. None can reach the peace of my elect unless strives to become as simple as a child and to acquire from the start true charity. Who possesses charity, My daughter, possesses patience. Charity works with zeal and love. It speaks evil of no one, for it fears to lose the precious pearl of My friendship. It understands all, sees all notices all, but it covers all with Its mantle. It excuses the faults of its neighbors, and sympathizes with his sorrows and says to itself: 'Truly, I would be even worse, if You did not come to rescue me.’
"You must know," said Jesus to her, "that when I speak to you I produce in you tenderness, peace, compunction for your sins and above all, humility. Know well, my daughter, that no matter how much he desires to love me, if a man enter not the straight path of humility he will keep on stumbling. Man has within himself a dust that settles round his heart; it is called self-love ....Man is full of pride, and I have nothing to do with the proud. Only the humble find favor in My sight. He who wishes to taste My delights must despise the world, and expect to be despised by it in turn."
"I make My abode in humble souls that are full of simplicity. The more lowly and uncultured they are, the more I take pleasure in them. As to these wise and learned professors whose heads are. full of the fumes of pride, I put them down from their seats, and you yourself shall soon learn where I send them. Thus ends their false wisdom and self-advertisement. Oh My daughter, I exalt those who humble themselves. They merit My Kingdom, and to these I unfold all My secrets. Love then to meet with contempt, for love of contempt is a true foundation of virtue.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary also became her guide and helped her to prepare for the mission that God had called her to:
"Know well, My dear daughter, that here below you will have for every one. good day a hundred bad ones, because you must be like My Son Jesus. You must be devoted above all to doing His will and submitting your own constantly to His in the state of life to which it has pleased Him to call you; therein lies your special vocation. Later on, when people come to examine your conduct closely, every indiVIdual must be able to convince himself that it is possible to serve God in all states and conditions of life without the performance of great exterior penances, provided only one fights vigorously against one's passions and conforms oneself in all things to the holy will of God. Remember it is far more meritorious to renounce one's own will and submit oneself entirely to the will of God than to perform the greatest bodily mortifications."
Anna Maria is given the extraordinary miracle of a mystic globe-sun
Jesus told Anna Maria that by being a simple wife and mother she was to be a sign that holiness and union with God is available to everyone. He further stated “Jesus described her mission: "I destine you to convert sinners, to console people of all sorts and conditions-priests, prelates, My very Vicar himself. All who listen to your words will be granted signs and graces at My hands .... But you will also meet with false and treacherous people; you will be submitted to ridicule, scorn and calumny, but you will endure it all for love of Me."
This frightened her. "My God, whom are You choosing for this task? I am a creature unworthy to tread the earth." “I see that also," answered the Voice. "It is I who will guide you by the hand, as a lamb is led by the shepherd, to the altar of sacrifice."
As she was praying one day in the church of St. Andrew della Valle, before the crucifix she heard this question from the lips of the Crucified: "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?" "I embrace the Cross of my Jesus," she answered. "I will carry it, like Him, in pain and ignominy. I await at His Hands triumph and glory in the hereafter."
It was in 1790, the very year of her call, that the Beata was the object of a most unique and remarkable favour.
The Decree of the Beatification thus refers to it:
"Among other gifts the most remarkable was that for a space of forty-seven years she saw a kind of sun in whose light she descried things at hand and things afar off foresaw future events, scrutinized the secrets of hearts and the most hidden and most inward impulses." Suddenly, then, in her humble home, Anna saw a little above her head, as it were a blazing sun crowned by a circle of thorns; two long thorns clasped it round; in the centre was the Eternal Wisdom (presumably), represented by a young woman seated in contemplation. Films of cloud dimmed the dazzling light, but an interior voice told her that the clouds would disappear according to the increasing measure of her purification. In this light she was to see, until her death, not only everything that might conduce her to perfection, but also everything that could help win others for God and allow her to help the Church militant or suffering.
Cardinal Pedicini, who knew Anna Maria for over 30 years, and whose position in the great Roman congregations shows a rnan little given to credulity or wild assertions speaks at great length in his judicial depositions concerning this prodigious gift:
"For forty-seven years, day and night, at home, at church, in the. street, she saw in this sun, which became increasingly brilliant, all things on this earth both physical and moral; she penetrated to the depths and rose up to heaven, where she saw the eternal lot of the dead. She saw the most secret thoughts of persons nearby or far off; events and personages of bygone days ....She had only to think of a thing and it presented itself in a clear and, complete manner .... A mere glance at this mystic sun and she entered at will into the most secret council-rooms of kings.
She saw the people who handled affairs, the places concerned, the opinions that each one held, the sincerity or guile of the ministers; all the back-door diplomacy of our era, and also the decrees of God for the confusion of these mighty ones. She saw the plotting and the dark gatherings of various sects; the members of these societies, their ranks, their ceremonies--all in the minutest detail and in all parts of the world--all as if it were happening in her room ....We may say that this gift was one of omniscience for it was the knowing of all things in God so far as the intelligence is capable of such knowledge in this life.... She saw distant sea ships being wrecked and heard the cries of the shipwrecked; she penetrated into the prisons of China and Arabia ... where confessors of the faith, slaves and prisoners languished in agony .... In this way did she exercise an unbounded apostolate, won souls to grace in every part of the globe, and prepared the way for missionaries; the entire world was the theatre of her labours .... Nor let anyone think I am exaggerating, for, on the contrary, I find myself incapable of describing the wonders of which I was for thirty years the witness."
The Cardinal added that if obedience compelled the holy woman to hide nothing from him, she took extreme pains to remain hidden herself from people whom she benefited by means of the lights God gave her. Above all, she was most anxious to receive no gifts from them. Princes of the Church, kings, queens, Popes and saints came to ask this humble woman to teach and enlighten them to the secrets of heaven. She enlightened them to the extent demanded by obedience, putting far from her all spirit of curiosity, not even asking an explanation of those things she failed to understand.
"A prodigy unique" in the annals of sanctity is the way the Decree of Beatification speaks of it, and it is to be explained by the unique circumstances in which the world and the Papacy then were. A crumbling world threatened to involve the Church and the Papacy in its own ruin. Her mission then was to help those who were in charge of guiding the Church through this difficult and turbulent period. Her husband stated:
“She prayed for the Holy Father, for the Cardinals and Bishops, for the conversion of sinners, for heretics, for all the world, for evil tongued people…it all seemed to me a paradise”
Concerning this miraculous sun, in a book by Louis Veuillot entitled “The Fragrance of Rome” we read:
“In the Decree that introduces the Process for Beatification of Anna Maria Taigi it is said that she was chosen by God to draw souls to Him; to be a victim of expiation, to avert great catastrophes, all by the power of her prayers….to the opened floodgates of iniquity God opposed a simple woman.”
“Shortly after she had entered on the way of perfection there began to appear to her a golden globe which became as a sun of matchless light; in this all things were revealed to her. Past and future were to her an open book. She knew with certainty the fate of the dead. Her gaze travelled to the ends of the earth and discovered there people on whom she had never set eyes, reading them to the depth of their souls. One glance sufficed; upon whatever she focused her thoughts, it was revealed to her and her understanding. She saw the whole world as we see the front of a building. It was the same with nations as with individuals; she saw the cause of their distresses and the remedies that would heal them.
"By means of this permanent and prodigious miracle, the poor wife of Domenico Taigi became a theologian, a teacher and a prophet. The miracle lasted forty-seven years. Until her death the humble woman was able to read this mysterious sun as an ever-open book. Until her death she looked into it solely for the glory of God; that is, when charity suggested or obedience demanded it. Should things for which she had not looked or which she did not understand appear, she refrained from seeking to know more and asking explanations.”
"The poor, the great of the world, the princes of the Church came to her for advice or help. They found her in the midst of her household cares and often suffering from illness. She refused neither her last crust of bread nor the most precious moments of her time, yet she would accept neither presents nor praise.
"Her most powerful friends could not induce her to allow them to favor her children beyond the conditions in which they were born. When she was at the end of her resources she told God about it, and God sent what was necessary.
"She thought it good to live from day to day, like the birds, A refugee queen in Rome wished to give her money. 'Madame,' she kindly said, 'how simple you are. I serve God, and He is richer than you.’
"She touched the sick, and they were cured; she warned others of their approaching end, and they died holy deaths. She endured great austerities for the souls in Purgatory, and the souls, once set free came to thank her .... She suffered in body and soul. ... She realized that her role was to expiate the sins of others, that Jesus was associating her with His sacrifice, and that she was to be a victim in union with Him. The pains of Divine Love have an intoxication that no words can explain. After Holy Communion there were times when she sank down as though smitten by a prostrating stroke. To tell the truth, her state of ecstasy was continual because her sense of the presence of God was continual. ... All pain was sweet to her .... She went her way, her feet all bloody; with shining eyes she followed the Royal Way.”
"Behold, then, the spectacle God raised to men's sight in Rome during that long tempestuous period which began at the time the humble Anna Maria took to the way of saints. Pope PlUS VI dies at Valence; Pius VII is a prisoner at Fontainebleau; the Revolution will reappear before Gregory XVI reigns. Men are saying that the day of the Popes is over, that Christ s law and Christ Himself are on the wane, that science will soon have relegated this so-called Son of God to the realm of dreams . . . . He will work no more miracles.”
"But at precisely this time God raised up this woman to cure the sick .... He gives her knowledge of the past, present and future. She declares that Pius VII will return to his seat in Rome. She sees even beyond the reign of Pius IX She is God's answer to the challenge of unbelief."
Her ecstasies and her love and devotion to the Holy Eucharist
Along with receiving the extraordinary ongoing vision of the sun, Anna Maria began to be drawn into ecstasies along with hearing the inner Voice. Most often, she was often drawn into ecstasy while receiving Holy Communion, but also even during the most humble tasks of washing clothes or even while eating. Her husband and children did not understand what was happening to her once when Anna fell into ecstasy at the table and came back to her senses he grumbled at her saying: "How can you doze at table? You are stupefied with sleep. You must go to bed earlier." After the death of his wife he suspected the true nature of things: "I do really believe that my wife was favored with heavenly gifts. As to ecstasies, I could never discern any. I remember, however, that at night-time, as we said the Rosary, there were times when she did not answer. At table, also, it often happened that she was absent-minded, sometimes with a fork in her hand, sometimes without movement. I spoke to her and she took up again what she had left off, giving me a smile."
When she thus went to sleep with her eyes towards heaven, her daughter Mariuccia once said tearfully:
"Mamma is dead. Mamma is dead." "No! she is praying." Sophie would say by way of correction.
"Be quiet, she's asleep," Domenico would growl. "Let her alone; she had no sleep last night."
While reciting the daily family Rosary, ecstasy was quite common and at this Domenico was still more shocked. "It is shameful to go to sleep like that during prayers, when one has the whole night for sleeping" (Statement taken during the Process and Summary).
"When I used to go to see her in the morning," says Cardinal Pedicini, “I often found her in ecstasy, and was obliged to wait patiently till she cane to herself. Ecstasy would again seize her in the middle of our conversation. I would wait again. Only obedience had power to call her to herself."
Her confessor says, "I was often the witness of her ecstasies when we used to visit the seven basilicas in company with Cardinal Pedicini. At that time she usually went to Communion in the chapel of the Holy Crucifix at. St. Paul's. Immediately after Communion she entirely lost herself in transport. Yet, as we needed to contmue the pilgrimage, I ordered her quickly in the name of obedience to recall her mind and follow us without delay. She obeyed."
After Holy Communion, when she felt ecstasy overwhelming her, she cut matters short and hastened back to her kitchen, but the Spirit often overcame her in the road, so much so that she had to have a companion. The sight of a cross, of a flower, or of a statue of Our Lady, would halt her, ravished in the love of God. Naturally the gossipers missed nothing, and she suffered on account of their uncharitable tongues and culmunies.
Her extraordinary Charity
One day in winter, when she came out of the Pieta church with Mgr. Natali, she met in the street a young man who was almost naked; his eyes were. haggard; he was crying with cold and hunger, a veritable spectre covered with filth, from whom the passers-by drew aside as from one smitten with the plague. Anna ran to him, took him by the hand, led him to her home, warmed him, washed him dressed him, restored and consoled him, gave him alms, and sent him away with a thousand expressions of regard, so that he wept and could find no word to answer.
Another day she had reached the church of Our Lady of Consolation when. she came upon a poor woman stretched on the road, foaming at the mouth, in a fit of epilepsy. The passers-by shunned her with averted heads. Anna drew near, wiped away the slaver, lifted her up and went to a neighboring shop to buy her a cordial. Charity is contagious. The crowd stopped, a voluntary collection was organised and given to the poor woman. Once she had restored her, Anna effaced herself and went to the church. There an ecstasy awaited her. Like St. Martin of old, who had just shared his cloak with a poor man of Amiens, she heard Our Savior say to her: "Thank thee, my daughter, for the care you have given to Me."
At the hospital of St. John, for Incurables, in the St. James quarter, there were similar incidents. Sophie [her daughter] who accompanied her, saw her mother going from bed to bed, distributing sweetmeats and helping the sick to bring up phlegm. The patient she singled out was a woman whose face was eaten away by a cancer. Her head had been covered by a veil. The moment she heard Annette a murmur of joy came from behind her mask. Anna went to her, caressed her, washed her, and, while rocking her like a baby, spoke to her of heaven.
"At this hospital of St. James" (it is still Sophie referring to the same case) "there was a woman called Santa whose husband had given her a contagious disease that ravaged her face. For that reason her head was covered in a hood. I think, too, she was no longer able to see. Whenever she heard Mamma’s voice, she used to cry: 'Here is my angel'. My mother would remain a long time with her. I would call and press her to come away, for the stench was very bad. But she would answer: 'But smell the fragrance of her soul: she will go straight from bed to paradise.' "
Another day, when she heard that the daughter of one of her bitterest persecutors was ill, she went to pay her a visit, and to comfort her mother. At every visit she took some sweetmeats. In the end she made the sign of the Cross over the daughter with her statue of Our Lady, and the sick woman recovered.
Anna Maria given the grace to obtain cures
The grace of healing was bestowed upon this humble woman, as it was formerly upon the Apostles in an official manner. Soon after her conversion, when she was gravely ill in her humble home, she was preparing herself for death when our Saviour appeared to her, dressed in a great blue cloak; He took her by the left hand and told her He took her for His spouse and granted to that hand the gift of curing the sick. Then he said:
"You may get up. You are cured." She cried out aloud and got up.
Sometimes Anna was content with touching a sick person with this sore hand which bore the invisible mark of her power. More often, so as to avoid admiration, she made use of a statue of Our Lady, or St. Philomena, of a relic, or of oil from the votive-lamp. Here are a few anecdotes: A lady of the princely house of the Albani was dying of cancer of the womb. She appealed to Anna's confessor, and he appealed to Anna. The Beata gave him a drop of oil from the votive-light, saying: "Let her put the oil on the affected part and invoke Our Lady." It was done. The following night the tumor broke painlessly and the invalid was cured. Overwhelming gratitude followed. The noble lady multiplied her offers of kindly offices and Anna ended by allowing her to undertake the upkeep of the votive-lamp, the oil of which had been the instrument of cure. The first bottle of oil was brought with demonstrations of eternal gratitude. Anna, though still a young woman, knew enough about the durability of gratitude among men and women. She smiled and said, "Quietly, daughter ! You run too fast, and will grow cold. Remember, however, that you have made a promise, and, if you fail to keep it, misfortune will follow."
Some months later the noble lady made an excuse for no longer sending the weekly bottle. She had to economize and was cutting out unnecessary expenses. She had scarcely sent the message when a series of disasters occurred among her extensive properties. A long illness completed her ruin. Anna pleaded for her, but Our Lord declared He had a peculiar horror of ingratitude. All that she obtained was the conversion of the poor woman.
A Princess Doria, a religious of SS. Dominic and Sixtus, was similarly afflicted with cancer of the womb. She sent a secret message to Anna, saying:
I do not wish to show my complaint to anybody, wherefore it is your duty to cure me."
"But what," Anna replied, "do you imagine I am? I am only a poor woman and a sinner at that."
"It is useless for you to make excuses. You are what you are, but I will you to obtain my cure. I have told you; it is for you to think about it. It is your business."
So Anna therefore spoke to Our Lord, and the same evening she sent some cotton fabric soaked in oil. The following day the growth had disappeared.
The same thing happened to a religious oblate of the Child Jesus, only she had no confidence, and had a poor opinion of Anna. Anna was not even a religious, but a laywoman of no birth! Her confessor rebuked her. In the end, the day before the surgeon was to operate, the religious, in desperation, made her decision to use the cotton soaked in oil. The next day the surgeon found that he had only to put back his instruments; the evil had vanished. The doubting Thomas was never finished praising the sanctity of that woman, even though she was married and the mother of a family.
And here are scenes that are the Gospel over again. Jesus had just cured the mother-in-law of St. Peter at Caparnaum. The sick heard of it and flocked to Him by every road, and even by way of the roof. So also Anna, with Mgr. Natali, went to the house of a woman whose daughter was dying of the croup. The doctors had given her up, only the mother pleaded with Anna in the tones of the Chananite woman. Anna consoled her, saying:
"It will be nothing." She made the sign of the Cross upon the swollen throat. The little girl was cured. The whole neighborhood was stirred. Another mother, whose daughter was smitten with the same epidemic, asked for help. Anna cured this one also. There was a third neighbor. Her little boy was tormented with an abscess in the ear. With a caress of her right hand Anna cured the child. The mother had not finished thanking her when the second mother, whose little daughter had been cured ran up to her, bringing her little boy, smitten with diphtheria. The child was freed from the disease by a sign of the Cross. It is said that the series of cures continued, and I know well that smiles are likely to be raised by such tales, but I content myself by answering with Pascal's astonishment at his own folly: "What a fool I am! If Jesus Christ is God, what difficulty is there in it?"
A cure that made more noise, and one of which I have already said a word, was that of Marie-Louise de Bourbon, the dethroned Queen of Etruria. Expelled from her State, General Miollis had placed her under house-detention in the Convent of SS. Dominic and Sixtus, where she lived surrounded by a small court. But the sadness that gnawed at her developed into epilepsy. She had to be shut up in apartments covered with thick carpets, where she rolled about uttering frantic cries. After these attacks she lay motionless and as though dead. Remedies proved ineffective.
The Queen having heard of the cure of Princess Doria, summoned Anna, and begged her to plead with God for her. Anna told her to have confidence in the Blessed Virgin, and then, with her little statue of Our Lady, made the sign of the Cross. The attacks of epilepsy fled for ever, and the Queen was able to go out and about in Rome without hindrance. The medical world made a great to-do about the cure of a queen such as it had not made for two broom-wielders, and that is why Anna preferred to cure the broom-wielders. But the Queen showed a royal gratitude towards her benefactress, made her her adviser, her sister in God unto death, and faithfully kept alight the votive-lamp that had been so speedily deserted by the other noble lady.
This cure was the beginning of a new series. It was Anna's confessor who recommended a young man also smitten with epilepsy. She found the invalid in bed, broken by a crisis of the disease. His parents stood by in distress. Anna said, with the utmost cheerfulness: "Come on! Up you get! Quick! I can't abide seeing people in bed. You will not die of that, at least."
The sick man threw off the bedclothes and rose, cured. His stunned parents had not recovered from their amazement before Anna fled. The gratitude of the now miraculously cured man lasted a good month, during which he came often to assure Anna of his undying thanks and to offer her his services without wages. She smiled and said : "You will very soon forget"
He forgot so soon that he was not seen again. He was speedily punished, was smitten with a fresh complaint, did not dare to approach his benefactress, and ended sadly. But as in the case of the votivelamp, God soon sent a faithful servant who asked no wages; it was Luigeto Antonini, who, in spite of banter and sarcasm, remained loyal to his benefactress until death, and made a deposition at the Process.
We owe to the Princess of Palestrina the account of the cure of her brother-in-law, Cardinal Barberini. "I used to love to confer with Anna. When I could not see her I wrote to her. She prayed to God for me, and for all that concerned me, and the result was always as she foretold. She was frank and friendly. If my children were ill I turned to her. My brotherin-law, Mgr. Barberini, was stricken with a fatal disease a little before his promotion to the cardinalate, and I told the holy woman this. The terrible illness grew worse, and yet she bade me fear nothing and not to be troubled, but to have recourse to St. Philip Neri. She also sent a relic of the saint."
It was an un-hoped for cure, and actually from the moment the Beata began to pray Our Lord had said to her: "The prelate's death is decreed by the divine counsel." Yet Anna only insisted the more for this impossible cure, and obtained it. Our Lord told her no one would attribute it to her, and in fact it was credited to St. Philip Neri. That, however, was fresh reason for insistence. Anna never believed in patenting her good deeds.
The Luigeto Antonini, whom I have just named, the knight and servant of the Beata, and the agent of her miracles, deposed that he assisted at a great number of cures. "Oftentimes I accompanied her on such errands. When she could not go in person she sent me with a little cotton soaked in the oil of the lamp that burned before her statue of Our Lady." And the good young fellow was no more astonished at being the agent of cures than were the little Indians sent on similar errands to the sick by St. Francis Xavier. He himself, when attacked by sciatica, which tied him to his bed, or constrained him to walk with crutches, spoke to the Beata, who cured him with a sign of the Cross. From then onwards he could go limping but alert here and there through the town at all times. If he caught a cold or a catarrh in going the Beata's errands, it was enough for him to tell his "Mamma", and a sign of the Cross put all to rights." Headaches or pains in the chest, swellings and other miseries which he contracted in the service of the saint fled at a sign of the Cross.
Here is a moving incident. In Anna's last illness the Abbe, worn out with going for the doctor, the priest, her friends, fell ill of congestion. The Beata beckoned him to come near, and tracing on his breast the sign of the Cross said: "Go to bed. Go to sleep for half an hour and all will be well. I have too much need of you at this moment to allow you to be ill." Half an hour later he was cured, but Anna was in her agony.
Her death and postmortem -Blessed Anna Maria Taigi is found to be an incorruptable
Anna Maria Taigi died 4:00am on the morning of June 9, 1837, after having received Viaticum and the Sacrament of the sick given by the local Curate (Parish Priest). Our Lord had promised Anna that the cholera would spare Rome until her death. She had scarcely breathed her last when the scourge broke out amidst scenes of indescribable panic. The death of the Beata at first passed unnoticed, but piety recovered quickly and the body was left exposed for two days for the veneration of the faithful in the church of Santa Maria, in Via Lata. On the Sunday evening a devout cortege conducted it to the new cemetery, in the Campo Verano, where, conformably to the instructions of Gregory XVI, it was enclosed in a leaden sepulchre, with seals affixed, near the chapel. Mgr. Natali had caused a mask of the face to be taken before the body was placed in the coffin.
After a few days, in spite of the cholera, the procession of pilgrims began. Ordinary folk, bishops, cardinals, elbowed one another near the humble tombstone. Cardinal Odescalchi forthwith instructed Mgr. Natali to collect all the documents, from which Mgr. Luquet, postulator of the cause, published the first biography. It had an immediate success, and was translated into several languages.
The fame of her sanctity increased day by day.
Mgr. Natali and Domenico did not know to whom to reply first. "Many people," says the latter, "who had known her plied me with all sorts of questions as to how she died. Some asked one question, some asked another. Some spoke of the special gifts she had received from God; others of the graces they had received through her intercession while she was yet alive. Everybody spoke well of her, praised her and described her as full of merits and virtues. As for me, I always thought highly of her and I declare that Our Lord took this, His good servant, away from me, because I was not worthy of her."
Cardinal Pedicini, while drawing up his voluminous memoirs of her, went often to pray at her tomb. Cardinal Micara, the Capuchin, doyen of the Sacred College, and Prefect of the Congregation of Rites, always carried a picture of her about his person. The Venerable Bernard Clausi, of the Minim Order of Franciscans, who often asked for her prayers, said to all who came his way: "If she is not in heaven, there is no room there for anybody."
The Venerable Vincent Pallotti called Anna "his secretary, his plenipotentiary, charged with all the interests of his congregation in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity".
The Blessed Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, foundress of the Good Shepherd Congregation, confided to her the thorny questions she had to deal with in Rome.
Mgr. Flaget, Bishop of Louisville, who was to die in the odour of sanctity, had visited the Beata during her last illness and sang her praises throughout the United States.
The number of miracles increased and the people deplored the fact that the body of the Beata rested so far from Rome. By order of the cardinal-vicar it was brought to the church of Our Lady of Peace. The coffin, sealed for eighteen years, was re-opened, and the body was found as fresh as if it had been buried the day before. In spite of instructions for secrecy, and although the middle of the night was chosen as the moment of removal, a vast crowd came to acclaim "The Saint of Rome and its Palladium".
Pope Pius IX surrounded the servant of God with great veneration. On the eve of the battle of Mentana, pictures representing him beside Anna-Maria praying for the triumph of the Church, were spread far and wide. Learning that she had expressed a wish to be buried in the church of the Trinitarians, he had the body brought on August 18, 1865 to the basilica of San Chrysogono. Three years later the coffin was again opened, and though the clothes of the Beata had decayed, her body was still intact.The sisters of St. Joseph took off the poor clothing and replaced it by new. For eight days the body was exposed for the veneration of the faithful; the whole neighbourhood of Trastevere seemed on the move, and troops were necessary to ensure order. The body, enclosed in a double coffin of lead and of cypress, was near the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in a memorial tomb, and, later on, in the chapel to the left, under the altar within a large glass shrine which allowed it to be seen in the habit of a Trinitarian Tertiary. The hands were joined in front of the breast. The face, giving an impression of infinite serenity, was covered in a light wax mask beneath the white coif.
Meanwhile the Process took its course. After the official enquiry entrusted to Mgr. Natali, the juridical enquiry was begun in 1852. Thirty witnesses upon oath were heard--Cardinals, bishops, nobles, servants, two daughters of the Beata and finally, leaning on his stick, with hunched shoulders, an old man of ninety-two years, the man who, after God, had the most to do with making Anna-Maria a saint-Domenico. In 1863 Pope Pius IX introduced the Cause of Beatification; on 4th March, 1906, Pope Pius X declared the heroicity of her virtures. On May 30, 1920, Pope Benedict XV ranked Anna-Maria Taigi, mother of a family, amongst the Blessed. A little while later he made her the special protectress of mothers of families and the patroness of the Women's Catholic Union.
When her holy remains were once again examined in 1920, they were found to be no longer incorrupt, and were at that point subject to the normal processes of decomposition. A wax covering has been placed over the face and hands, preserving her resemblance. The holy remains of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi lie in state in the Chapel of the Madonna in the basilica of San Chrysogono in Rome. Her Memorial feastday is celebrated in the Church on June 9.
~Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, pray for us!