Blessed Anna Maria Taigi
Wife and mother, Trinitarian Tertiary
Anna Maria Gianetti was born in Siena, Italy. She joined her father in Rome when a reversal of fortune obliged him to go and settle there. The little girl went to school only two years, and she scarcely learned how to read. Her parents poured all their bitterness upon their daughter, but the angelic little child redoubled in meekness towards them.
Anna Maria soon began working to help her parents. She grew up a pious, hard-working, coquettish lass who enjoyed dressing herself up. Domenico Taigi, an honest but rough man, quick to anger, who was working as a day laborer in the Chigi Palace, offered to marry her, and Anna Maria accepted his proposal.
In the early days of their household she kept her worldly habits, loving to go to the puppet theater and wear jewelry. After three years of a life divided between love of God and love of the world, Anna Maria went to confession to Father Angelo of the Order of Servites. She was totally converted, and with her husband’s consent she was received into the Third Order of the Trinitarians. Domenico asked for only one thing: keep the house peaceful and in good order!
But now Anna Maria’s parents came to join the young household. From the moment of their arrival, yelling scenes became a daily occurrence. Anna Maria did her best to quiet them down, but her quarrelsome mother was always looking for a fight with her son-in-law, who flared up very easily. Attenuating the blows as best she could, Anna Maria hastened to serve her quick-tempered husband, who was perfectly capable of dashing the contents of the dinner table onto the floor when a dish did not please him. After her mother’s death, her father lived at his daughter’s expense and heaped dispute upon dispute. When he contracted leprosy, Blessed Anna Maria cared for him tenderly and helped him die a Christian death.
Their home would have become a veritable hell for their seven children, but the Blessed remained so supernaturally sweet that Domenico later declared that the house was a real paradise, and that cleanliness and order reigned everywhere in his poor dwelling. Anna Maria would get up very early to go to church, and she received Communion daily. When a family member was sick, however, to avoid giving an occasion for complaint, she deprived herself of Mass and Communion. To make up for this involuntary privation, she spent her free moments in recollection on such days.
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi always kept her children busy. After supper, the family recited the Rosary and read a brief Life of the Saint of the day, and then the children went to bed after receiving a blessing. On Sunday they visited the sick in the hospital. Her maternal tenderness did not keep her from firmly applying punishments when they were deserved, such as the rod and fasting. Her children profited well from such a balanced formation, and soon they were an honor to their virtuous mother and an example to their companions.
Her delicacy towards the humble was exquisite. She fed her servant girl better than herself; when one of them awkwardly broke some dishes, she said sweetly, Well, I suppose the people who make the china have to make a living too.
When she was received as a member of the Third Order of the Holy Trinity, the Blessed offered herself as a victim of atonement for the sins of the world. In return for this generous offering, God granted her the permanent vision of a luminous globe or sun, in which she could read the needs of souls, the condition of sinners, and the dangers of the Church.
This extraordinary phenomenon lasted forty-seven years. Surprised by ravishments and ecstasies amid her domestic occupations, Anna Maria strove vainly to avoid them. Thanks to her, many sick people warned of their approaching end met with a holy death. The fate of the dead was revealed to her, and her compassion towards them inspired her to multiply her penances to win an earlier release for these poor souls, who came to thank her for their deliverance.
Although Blessed Anna Maria Taigi fervently wanted to remain unknown to everyone, a whole host of visitors — the poor, princes, priests, bishops, even the pope — flocked to her to ask for advice from her inspired wisdom. Simple and humble, she would reply very simply, trying to avoid praise, always refusing little gifts.
This woman who spread light and serenity all around her was deprived of spiritual consolation for five years and had a the very strong sentiment that she had been relegated to hell. The anxiety and darkness in her soul had been on the increase for seven months, and Anna Maria Taigi underwent a veritable agony, but she continued directing her house as though nothing was amiss.
Despite the fact that her fingers had become very painful, she did a great deal of sewing to earn the family’s daily bread. The wife of the Governor of Savoy, who had obtained many graces through the prayers of the handmaid of God, wanted to give her a large sum of money, but the Blessed categorically refused.
On Monday in Holy Week, Anna Maria learned in ecstasy that she was going to die on Good Friday. After blessing her loved ones and thanking them, she gave up her soul with a cry of joy and deliverance. It seems that God wanted to show in the person of this admirable Blessed the possibility of joining eminent virtue and exceptional supernatural gifts to fidelity in the most humble and material duties of the common life. Pope Benedict XV beatified Anna Maria Taigi on May 30, 1920.
Marteau de Langle de Cary, 1959, Vol. II, pp. 338-342. Brothers of Christian School Edition, p. 201 — O.D.M. article.