A solemn celebration on December 18 was held to mark the closure of the third centenary of the death of Blessed Mary of the Angels, foundress of the Carmelite monastery of “Saint Joseph of the Mother of God” in Moncalieri (Turin). The General Superior of the Discalced Carmelites, Father Saverio Cannistrà, presided over the celebrations that commemorated the 300th anniversary of the death of the Blessed, the first native of Turin and the first Italian Discalced Carmelite nun to be elevated to the honors of the altar. The “pilgrimage” of her relics from Moncalieri visited three closely related churches in Turin: Santa Cristina, the surviving church of the ancient monastery where she lived; Santa Teresa, where her body was saved and guarded for 150 years; and finally, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians – alive with the memory of Saint John Bosco – who was a devotee of Mary of the Angels and of whom he wrote a biography on the occasion of her beatification on April 25, 1865 by Pope Pius IX.
Excerpts from Father Saverio’s homily:
Blessed Mary of the Angels leaves us “the ambition of a Christian radicality … the untiring search for the “radix” that is the Trinitarian life of God and his mysterious presence … which we can experience … in the flesh of the Son. … To go to the root you have to journey… a lived transformation in which the Spirit … works … with a chisel … engraving deeply». Within herself, she felt “all that we too feel in a minor form: temptations against faith, fears against hope … and the resistance to abandon oneself completely in the hands of the Lord. … Holiness is precisely this … the humble offering of our truth, of our reality, of what we are … a reality that always has so many cracks. … “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (L. Cohen). Indeed it is like this: [it is] these cracks that make people imperfect according to our worldly logic. Where misery, poverty, incapacity, and powerlessness manifest themselves, it is there that love – that manifests itself in a more powerful, more vivid way – comes to take us, comes to save us precisely where we are not able to go forward, to take one step towards Him. It is only by letting ourselves be taken by this Love that we make the journey of holiness, a journey that is truly made only if we are taken, lifted up, supported by the strong arms of God.”
The story of this woman is a story of salvation, the solid rock that, as the Gospel says, will not be taken from us… and is to be made known. For this reason, among the initiatives that took place during the course of this year, we mention in particular the Exhibition at the Diocesan Museum dedicated to this singular female figure from Turin. The exhibition, which will remain open until 11 February 2018, traces her life, devotion, and the veneration that first spread to the Carmelite Order immediately after his death and developed and intensified bit by bit in the process of canonization. To honor their memory, the Moncalieri nuns published the new modern profile, “Io sarò carmelita: Marianna Fontanella, Beata Maria degli Angeli” by the publisher Editrice San Paolo. (“I Will Be a Carmelite: Maria Fontanella, Blessed Mary of the Angels”) written by Maria Teresa Reineri. Lastly, we invite you to read the letters and Spiritual Relations of this woman in which you can see how she turned over all of her wounded humanity to the Lord.
Source: Official website of the Discalced Carmelite Province of St. Charles Borromeo of Lombardy (http://www.ilcarmelo.it/)