Mary Theresa Ledóchowska
The eldest of seven children, Mary Theresa Ledochowska was born in Austria on April 29, 1863, to a Polish noble, Count Anthony, and his wife, Josephine. From her parents Maria Theresa inherited not only their noble blood, but also a heart sensitive for the needy. She was a gifted writer and artist. One day she realised her 'pen' should be used only for God and His Kingdom.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Mary Theresa Ledóchowska understood that she was called to have at heart only the honour of Jesus Christ and to seek only his interests and therefore she consecrated herself completely to Him. Deeply moved by the conditions in the Africa, of her time, and recognising the slaves and maltreated women as children of God redeemed by the Blood of Christ, she dedicated her whole life to cooperate in their human and Christian development.
Mary Theresa, deeply convinced that she was only an unworthy instrument in the hands of God, let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit and founded the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver for the purpose of sustaining and helping missionaries to take the knowledge and love of God to those who still do not know Him. This mission inserts us, as members of her congregation and her spiritual daughters, into the mandate of Christ: Go out to all the world and preach the Good News and places us in a field of work that will endure as long as there are souls to be saved.
It is necessary to provide proof of two miraculous healings for the cause of beatification. In the case of the beatification of Mary Theresa Ledochowska, the Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver, it was very difficult, under the conditions found in the mission areas, to sift through the flood of healings to find sufficient medical proof for two healings that were absolutely inexplicable. In 1975, the Church chose two cases which meet the necessary requirements.
Judith de Rivo
On September 26, 1930, a 43-year-old mother was carrying her baby in her arms as she was walking toward her husband at 6:00 in the evening, when she was struck and run over by a motorcycle. The mother and child were rushed to Valleteri Hospital, near Rome, where her baby died the next day. Judith was diagnosed with a fractured pelvis and other wounds.
After a month of treatment, Judith was making slow progress. On the evening of October 25, the doctor told her husband that she would need at least another month of hospital care. On hearing the news, Judith burst into tears: they were a poor couple and she was filled with fear at the thought of being immobilized for such a long time.
A nursing Sister gave her a book about the life of Mother Ledochowska to read, and in her distress, Judith turned to her who “had spent her life doing good,” calling on her all night: “Mary Theresa, help me.”
The next morning, October 26, after a sleepless night and exactly one month after the accident, Judith noticed that the woman in the next bed, who had undergone a serious operation, could not adjust her blanket. She leaned over to, and as she did so, she noticed with amazement that she felt no pain and could move with ease. She leaped out of bed and began to walk about as the other patients commented, “She’s out of her mind; she’s crazy.” Judith laughed and replied, “No, no. Mary Theresa has worked a miracle for me.”
Upon hearing the commotion, the doctors ran to the ward and were dumbfounded. X-rays later revealed no trace of a fracture. The surgeons admitted that this was an instantaneous cure that could not be explained scientifically. On April 30, 1958, a medical exam confirmed the permanence of the cure: 28 years after the accident, at the age of 70, Judith de Rivo was in excellent health and enjoyed complete freedom of movement. Judith’s cure was the first miracle chosen for the cause.
The second case accepted in the cause was that of 18-year-old Vincenza Mazzeotti, who had an inflammation of her left leg, which resisted all treatment. On July 4, 1936, the doctor in charge of her case decided that an operation was necessary and fixed the date for two days later.
The next morning, Sunday, July 5, the postman brought a copy of Echo from Africa, with a picture of Mother Ledochowska. Vincenza prayed to her fervently. She fell asleep peacefully for the first time since her illness had begun and woke up the next morning, July 6th, the day of the operation, cured. Vincenza got out of her bed and cleaned the house. A medical examination confirmed that her cure was both “instantaneous and total.”
She was healed on the feast day of Blessed Mary Theresa, on July 6th!
29 April 1894
Founded the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St Peter Claver
6 July 1922
Died Rome, Italy
29 April 1863
Born Loosdorf, Austria
19 October 1975
Beatified by Pope Paul VI
"Mary Theresa Ledóchowska, deeply convinced that she was only an instrument in the hands of God, let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit and founded the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver for the purpose of sustaining and helping missionaries to take the knowledge and love of God to those who still do not know Him.
United with her in the same desire to restore the image of God in every person who is persecuted and oppressed, we dedicate our hearts, our energies and skills to help those who proclaim the Gospel."
Constitutions of the Missionary Sisters of St Peter Claver