Saint Virginia Centurione Bracelli

St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli (1587–1651) was born in Genoa, Italy, to an aristocratic family. She was pious and desired the religious life, however, at the age of fifteen she was forced into an arranged marriage. Her husband, a wealthy and illustrious man, lived dissolutely as a drinker and a gambler despite Virginia's good example. After having two daughters, Virginia was widowed at the age of twenty. Refusing another arranged marriage, Virginia took a vow of celibacy and began charitable works in service of the sick and poor while raising her children. Once her daughters were grown, she used her wealth to found a refuge center for the suffering which grew into a large hospital, and soon into two religious congregations: the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary, and the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary. Virginia was committed not only to serving the poor and destitute—even to the point of seeking them out in the streets—she was also committed to training the underprivileged with skills so that they could attain a better way of life. She also worked as a peacemaker to help settle the frequent bloody rivalries which rose up between noble families. St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli's feast day is December 15.
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