Blessed Anna Maria Taigi — Wife, Mother and Mystic
Blessed Anna Maria lends us a beautiful example of what it means to live a life of total self-giving as a wife, mother and friend of Our Lord.
After my third cesarean section, my sister-in-law Sister Michelle Marie came to visit our family to help with the new baby.
It just so happened that her help was, in fact, truly needed. Not only was I healing up from a major surgery, but I had a fussy baby and a house full of young children with a horrible case of the flu. She spent her visit running around our little home with her veil flapping behind her, trying to meet the needs of the bleeding mother and the sniffling, crying, vomiting children. At one point she said to me, “So now I see why I could have never gotten married! I am too weak! People think you have to be strong to be a contemplative sister, but now I see I didn't have the strength to be a mother.”
I know what she meant when she said that. I spent nearly four years living in a convent, but I had to leave the religious life due to a serious health condition. Now, as a homeschooling mother of six children, I am giving my whole life to Our Lord in a different way — in the “domestic cloister” of the home. I have found that both vocations come with their splintery crosses as well as their profound joys, especially when the one living them out is merely seeking to be united to Christ Crucified and Risen. Thankfully, there are canonized saints to help show how to surrender our hearts to him in any state of life we are called to.
Those of us who are mothers have a good idea of “what it takes” to live our vocation out to the fullest. It takes a wide-open, tender-loving heart, but most of all, it takes loads of God’s grace to make real motherhood come alive. Surrendering oneself to an authentic Catholic family life definitely isn’t for the fainthearted.
The wonderful news is that we mothers do not have to travel the journey alone. There are a number of saints who soared to the heights of sanctity as wives and mothers, such as Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837).
Born Anna Maria Giannetti, she was an Italian Catholic who married Domenico Taigi at age 20. Domenico was a brash and impulsive individual who was a poor porter of the chef for Prince Chigi. As the decree for Anna’s beatification stated, Domenico’s “manners were rough and uncultured and his temperament undesirable.” His turbulent manner and quick temper caused Anna much suffering, but it also caused her to exercise the virtues of patience, kindness, meekness, humility and forgiveness. Over time, she learned that a smile and silence often appeased his anger. He never was physically abusive to her, but he acted somewhat as a tyrant at times.
Nevertheless, he loved her deeply, which became obvious by the grateful and sincere testimonies that he gave during the official process of her beatification. Her relationship with him sanctified her soul in ineffable ways, and it speaks to the hearts of all those who are enduring difficult marital situations.
In 1790, Anna experienced a sudden religious conversion when she came into contact with a range of cardinals and luminaries. Following this, she became a professed member of the Secular Trinitarians. Throughout her marriage, Anna Maria bore seven children, three of whom died in childhood. The remaining two boys and two girls were richly blessed by her loving and attentive concern for their religious, moral and academic education.
In 1863, Anna Maria was given the title of Servant of God and she was beatified on May 20, 1920. At her beatification ceremony, Pope Benedict XV spoke of her as being an exemplary wife and mother amid poor and trying circumstances. She was frequently in ecstasy and worked miracles of healing, read hearts, foretold deaths and saw visions about the coming of future events. For example, she foretold the first two world wars of this century. Eighteen years after her death, her body remained perfectly preserved as if it had been just buried the day before.
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi lends us a beautiful example of what it means to live a life of total self-giving as a wife, mother and friend of Our Lord. In her, we may find a true companion and a source of consolation during difficult times. Her wisdom can fortify our souls and give us the strength to carry on.