St. Paola Elisabetta Cerioli: Children Need a "United Family"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2004 ( The life of Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, one of the Church’s newly canonized saints, points to the need everyone has for a stable family, says John Paul II.

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Paola Elisabetta Cerioli (1816-1865), widow and mother, became a religious and founded the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Family and the congregation of the Family of Bergamo.

Cerioli «intuited that family communities remain solid when the bonds of kinship are supported and cemented by the sharing of the values of faith and of Christian culture,» the Pope said in his homily at the canonization Mass for six blessed in St. Peter’s Square today.

«To spread these values, the new saint founded the Institute of the Holy Family. She was in fact convinced that children, to grow secure and strong, have need of a healthy and united family, generous and stable,» the Holy Father said.

«May God help Christian families to accept and witness in every circumstance the love of the merciful God,» he said.

Cerioli experienced suffering when she lost her four children — the eldest at age 16 — and her husband. At age 38 she went through an existential crisis which impelled her to find the meaning of what had occurred to her.

She dedicated herself to the care of abandoned children and involved some friends in her project, which led to the foundation of the congregations of men and women religious. They founded homes for the needy and schools.

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