Pope Recalls Beatification of Austrian Founder

Blessed Barbara Maix Showed Fortitude Amid Difficulty

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BARCELONA, Spain, NOV. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is highlighting the example of Maria Barbara of the Blessed Trinity (born Barbara Maix), who was beatified Saturday in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

On Sunday during a public address in Barcelona after praying the midday Angelus, the Pope referred to the example of the Austrian founder of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Pontiff said, «May the deep faith and fervent charity with which she followed Christ awaken in many the desire to devote their lives completely to the greater glory of God and the generous service of their brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and the most needy.»

The beatification ceremony was presided over by Cardinal-designate Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, in representation of Benedict XVI.


In an interview before the beatification, Sister Gentila Richetti, the postulator of Blessed Barbara’s cause, told ZENIT that this step is «a recognition of the good things she did and also a renewal of her values.»
Precarious health conditions and economic difficulties were part of Blessed Barbara’s daily crosses. Born in Vienna in 1818, she suffered from asthma and also heart problems.
During her adolescence she worked as a kitchen hand and lady’s maid in the Schoenbrunn palace in the Austrian capital. Barbara was only 15 when she became an orphan. At 18, both she and her sister Maria had to leave the house where they were residing. They opened a pension for young people and worked for the neediest.
Sister Richetti said: «Outstanding in Barbara Maix was the gift of fortitude superior to her physical frailty. She remained firm in faith and constant in tribulations. Her hope was unbreakable. She loved to the end, leaving as legacy of forgiveness and love of the truth.»
Barbara wrote a rule of life that sought the promotion of woman’s dignity. It was the birth of a new congregation. She traveled to Rome to have an audience with Pope Gregory XVI, but the Pontiff died the day before their meeting.
Both she and her 21 companions were expelled from Austria during the revolution, echoes of the French Revolution that arrived in that country. They wished to establish themselves in North America. However, in Hamburg, while awaiting the ship, Barbara decided that they should go to Brazil. Born there in 1849 was the community of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Today the sisters of the congregation founded by Blessed Barbara have the charism of education, the promotion of woman, social works in various Brazilian cities, health care, shelters for homeless girls, and the struggle against human trafficking.
Sister Richetti said: «I went learning in detail her biographical data: her life in Vienna, in Rio, in Porto Alegre. Little by little I thought I was touching the beginning of this congregation and felt part of that first group: of their trips, works, joys and sufferings.»
Hence, she said, for the sisters of this community, the beatification of their founder represents a moment of renewal in which they can follow her teachings up close. Blessed Barbara said in one of her writings: «Our mission is big. That is why we need great virtues, a large, magnanimous heart, great faith, hope and love. All the virtues in their highest degree.»

[With the contribution of Carmen Elena Villa]
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