Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo
Image of St. Mary Di Rosa


Feastday: December 15

Death: 1885

Saint Mary (Paula) Di Rosa December 15 The pounding on the barricaded door of the military hospital sent every heart thudding in terror. In the middle of the war in Brescia (Italy) in 1848, the wounded, sick, and those who cared for them knew what that pounding meant. The shouts from beyond the door came from soldiers, not obeying any command but their inner desire to destroy and plunder. Who could do anything to stop them? The only people here were some Sisters, the Handmaids of Charity, who devoted themselves to helping the sick. The doctors had not even wanted them there. The doctors wanted medical people who were secular and military, not nuns. And in the face of this new danger they were even more useless! Worse than useless -- because that Paula (as she was known) di Rosa was actually moving to open the door!

When the door swung wide, the soldiers saw their way blocked with a great crucifix held by Paula di Rosa and two candles held by two of the six sisters who stood by her. Suddenly their frenzy to destroy disappeared, and full of shame before this display of courage and faith, they slunk back into the shadows.

Throughout her life, Paula di Rosa was never afraid to open the door on a new opportunity to serve God, especially when she was unsure of what lay beyond. People who didn't know her well must have thought she was too frail and delicate for these ventures, but she came armed not only with her faith but boundless energy, intelligence, and hunger to serve.

Born in 1813, she had tackled enormous projects from the time she was seventeen, arranging retreats and special missions for her parish and setting up a women's guild. Because of all she accomplished, when she was only twenty-four she was asked to be supervisor of a workhouse for poor girls. After two years, she became concerned because there was no place for the girls to go at the end of the day. Night held special dangers for these girls and Paula wanted to give them a safe place to stay. The trustees refused to provide that place. For Paula the choice was easy -- she once said that she could never go to bed with a clear conscience if she had missed the chance to do some good. So she quit the workhouse to set up a boardinghouse for poor girls while helping her brother with a school for the deaf.

At 27 she stood before another door. She was appointed superior of the Handmaids of Charity, a religious society whose purpose was to dedicate all their time and attention to the suffering in hospitals. With her friends Gabriela Bornati and Monsignor Pinzoni, she won the respect of those who thought of these "handmaids" as intruders.

Then in 1848, her whole life seemed to fall apart. First she lost Gabriela and then Monsignor Pinzoni died, leaving her without the support and friendship she had come to depend on. War started in Europe and her homeland was invaded. Facing that kind of grief and turmoil, many others would have crawled into bed and pulled the covers over their head. But Paula had always seen opportunity in everything that came her way. War meant that many would be wounded and displaced by the war so she and her sisters went to work at a military hospital and even went out to the battlefield to give spiritual and physical comfort to the wounded and dying.

She died in 1855, going through the final door, unafraid and joyful to be joining her Lord forever.

In Her Footsteps :Mary di Rosa would go out at a moment's notice if she felt that someone needed her help. The next time someone you know needs your aid, don't put off helping and make excuses. Drop what you are doing and give them what they need.

Prayer : Saint Mary, you weren't afraid to take new opportunities. It's frightening when we are asked to do something that is different or new. We would rather stay in our safe and comfortable routines. Help us to embrace each obstacle in our path as a new opportunity to serve God. Amen

More about St. Mary Di Rosa from Wikipedia

St. Mary Di Rosa Comments

More Saints

Browse Saints by Category

Popular Saints




Image of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Bayley Seton was the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Born two years before the American Revolution, Elizabeth grew up in the ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Gerard Majella

St. Gerard Majella

St. Gerard Majella, religious, is the patron of expectant mothers. He was born at Muro, Italy, in 1726 and joined the Redemptorists at the age of 23, becoming a professed lay brother in ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church, patron of all universities and of students. His feast day is January 28th. He was born toward the end of the year 1226. He was the son ... continue reading | shop

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Artaldus

St. Artaldus

Artaldus (also called Arthaud) was born in the castle of Sothonod in Savoy. At the age of eighteen, he went to the court of Duke Amadeus III, but a year or two after, he became a Carthusian at ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Female Saints

Image of St. Gemma Galgani

St. Gemma Galgani

Gemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878, in a small Italian town near Lucca. At a very young age, Gemma developed a love for prayer. She made her First Communion on June 17, 1887. As a pupil at the school run by the Sisters of St. Zita, Gemma was loved by her teachers ... continue reading

More Female Saints

Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts


Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Rupert

St. Rupert

Bishop and missionary, also listed as Robert of Hrodbert. A member of a noble Frankish family, he was appointed bishop of Worms, Germany, and then dedicated himself to spreading the faith among the ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Fina

St. Fina

St. Fina or Seraphina, Virgin A.D. 1253 The old town of San Geminiano in Tuscany treasures with special veneration the memory of Santa Fina, a young girl whose claim to be recognized as a saint lay ... continue reading

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of St. Therese of Lisieux

Jennifer Hartline: Trying to Learn Humility From St. Therese

By Jennifer Hartline

St. Therese helps me understand: "the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 4:1-11
1 This made Jonah very indignant; he fell into a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10
3 take pity on me, Lord, for to you I cry all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:1-4
1 Now it happened that he was in a certain place ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 7th, 2015 Image

St. Artaldus
October 7: Artaldus (also called Arthaud) was born in the castle of ... Read More