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Mother Luisa Schiantarelli

Mother Luisa Schiantarelli:
Her Passionate Love for Angela

A short biography

Mother Luisa Schiantarelli

Natalina Schiantarelli was born in Venice a few days before Christmas, on December 20, 1718. Her father, Francesco, was a banker; her mother, Elena, furthered the human and Christian education of her daughter. The child was intelligent and endowed with artistic gifts for music and handicrafts, together with a practical good sense.

The young girl experienced deep suffering when her father became bankrupt and her family was reduced to poverty. Everything had to be sold, even their home, to satisfy the creditors’ claims. It seems that her father died during that time. Her mother probably had to work for a living when she moved out to different families throughout Europe. Natalina was thus introduced to different European cultures and was particularly gifted in learning new languages.

When she was eighteen years of age, her mother died, leaving her completely alone in a foreign country. Her two uncles, Jesuists, called her to Rome and searched for a convent ready to accept their orphaned niece. Natalina herself chose the Ursulines in Via Vittoria where she was welcomed as a boarder and organist, because of her gift for music. The Sisters found her pleasant, friendly, at ease with different members of society, for members of the Roman nobility often came to the monastery, and she was an excellent musician with a practical knowledge of business, which she probably inherited from her father.

After two years with the Ursulines, Natalina asked to share their life and began her postulancy on February 26, 1738. When she entered the novitiate, she was given the name of Sister Maria Luisa di San Giuseppe. A French-speaking Sister in the community was particularly interested in the beatification of Saint Angela. Noticing the novice’s literary gifts, she had her translate in Italian her letters and meditations on Angela Merici’s spirituality, thus communicating to Sister Luisa her great zeal for Angela’s cause. With the agreement of her Novice-Mistress, Sister then wrote to one of her uncles, Father Antonio Schiantarelli, rector of the Jesuits in Vicenza, requesting information on the life of Angela and devotion to her. He replied by sending her a huge envelope, which the Novice-Mistress asked Sr Luisa to leave in a drawer, so as to devote herself more intensely to her religions formation. The documents waited there for about ten years!

After her first profession, her apostolate was among the young boarders in Via Vittoria. She proved to be an excellent educator, trying to adapt her methods to the needs of her times. She also edified the community through her love of prayer and her particular devotion to the Holy Eucharist. However, she did not forget Angela’s beatification and began gathering documents and inquiring among the high ranking priests who often came to visit the monastery about the different steps needed for a beatification process.

On September 6, 1760, Mother Luisa was elected superior of the monastery and remained in office, either as prioress or assistant, until shortly before her death. She added to her work for the cause of Angela her care for a large community with few financial resources. When part of the building began to deteriorate, she managed to have a whole new wing built and asked for financial aid from different benefactors. She even requested it from Pope Clement XIII, and succeeded in obtaining it. When his successor, Pope Clement XIV also received such a request from Mother Luisa, he reacted by saying, See what that woman wrote to me, and then have the heart to refuse her request! He then allotted to the Monastery revenues from a Luogo Pio in Bologna, thus giving the Ursulines a certain financial stability. The Ursuline annalist then wrote the following comment: and they were longer obliged to be indebted! Mother Luisa was also gifted for organization and administration, and wise in placing money and managing the funds she received.

Preparing the way

Mother Luisa Schiantarelli

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