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Bl. Mary of the Angels, Virgin

Bl. Mary of the Angels, Virgin

December 16, 2023

Marianna Fontanella, also known as Maria degli Angeli or Mary of the Angels, was born in Turin in 1661 to noble parents. Despite her family's objections, she entered the Discalced Carmelites, becoming an esteemed abbess and prioress. In 1703, she established a new convent, dedicated to Saint Joseph, in Moncalieri, encouraged by Sebastian Valfrè.

From an early age, she looked up to Aloysius Gonzaga as a model of holiness. After joining the Discalced Carmelites, Fontanella experienced difficulties and homesickness but persevered, embracing the order's charism inspired by Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross. Known for her extreme penitential practices and spiritual experiences, including visions and demonic attacks, she sought solace in her confessor's guidance.

Fontanella served as a novice mistress and prioress, revered for her devotion to Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary. Her counsel was sought by people from various walks of life, including royalty like King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia and his wife Anne Marie d'Orléans.

In 1703, she established the Discalced Carmelite convent of Saint Joseph in Moncalieri. Despite her reluctance to continue as prioress, Fontanella was about to be re-elected for a fifth term when she prayed for God's will, falling ill shortly after. She passed away on 16 December 1717.

Her beatification process began in 1722 under Pope Innocent XIII, and she was declared Venerable by Pope Pius VI in 1778. King Vittorio Emmanuele II played a role in advancing her cause, leading to her beatification by Pope Pius IX on 14 May 1865.

Her remains rest under the altar in the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Saint Joseph in Moncalieri. Fontanella, who had dedicated her life to prayer, sacrifice, and serving her community, was remembered fondly in Turin, where she was credited with protecting the city from wars and a plague in 1714. Pope Pius IX declared her Blessed on 25 April 1865.

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