Elizabeth Sanna: A Reputation For Sanctity by Jan Korycki sac

she died with a reputation for sanctity…

Elisabetta Sanna was born in 1788 in Sardinia. She died with a reputation of sanctity in Rome on 17 Feb 1857 and was buried in the Church of SS Salvatore in Onda. Soon afterwards the recognition of her holiness became very evident, so much so that in just four months, on 15 Jun 1857, her cause for beatification was initiated. St Vincent Pallotti had been her spiritual directer for 18 years and regarded her highly.

As an infant Elisabetta contracted smallpox when she was just three months old. The result of this was that she was never able to raise her arms. She was able to move her fingers and wrists but could not bring food to her mouth with her hands, nor could she make the sign of the Cross. Neither could she comb her hair, wash her face nor change her clothes. She could however knead bread, place things in the oven and remove them from it and raised five children.

Despite her physical disability marriage was proposed to her and it was a very happy marriage. Seven children were born to them, two of whom died soon after birth. Together with her own children Elisabetta educated other children of the town teaching them catechism and preparing them for the sacraments. Her house was open to all women who wanted to learn hymns and prayers. Her husband died at the beginning of 1825 after seventeen years of marriage and she assumed full responsibility for the family and the administration of the home.

While growing in the spiritual life, Elisabetta was influenced by a Lenten preacher and decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land together with her confessor, Fr Giuseppe Valle. Thinking that her absence would be a short one she entrusted the care of her children to her mother and her brother who was a priest. She also sought the help of a niece and some neighbours. The two pilgrims had difficulty in getting a visa for the Orient and had to abandon the planned journey in Genoa. They then went to Rome as pilgrims.

Because of serious physical ailments Elisabetta was unable to return to Sardinia. She entrusted herself to the spiritual direction of Vincent Pallotti who contacted her brother, Fr Antonio Luigi, to inform him that his sister could not undertake the journey by sea but would do so as soon as she was better. However her ailments increased year by year and Elisabetta was obliged to remain in Rome.

Elisabetta suffered greatly because of the separation from her family. She wept a great deal but was not discouraged. Instead she entrusted herself to God, accepted this new situation and served others while remaining faithful to the teachings of the gospel and of the Church. She was often to be found visiting the sick and bringing comfort to them in the Hospital for Incurables, and in private homes. She knitted and the money she received for her work and the gifts given to her were used to help the poor and also the orphans in the two houses founded by Pallotti. She sought to bring peace to families, to convert sinners, she prepared the sick to receive the sacraments, and she took care of the altar linens and decoration of the Church of SS Salvatore in Onda. She participated in several Masses each day, in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and would pray with visitors in her room as many people came to her for advice. St Vincent and the first Pallottines also sought counsel from her.

Pallotti often stressed the merits of Elisabetta with regard to the UAC. Fr Vaccari reports: “Our Institute has been carried forward up to now by two persons; a poor woman, Elisabetta Sanna, whom you have heard of many times from Fr Vincent Pallotti, and by Cardinal Lambruschini” (Summarium, Rome 1910, p. 145, par. 33). She witnessed the foundation of the UAC and followed its development for 22 years up to the time of her death.

The cause of her beatification continues. We wait in hope for a clear miraculous sign obtained through the intercession of Venerable Elisabetta which fulfils all the criteria requested by the Holy See. Recently a case of healing which has certain indications of being a miracle was examined. Numerous persons pray with trust that it be recognized as miraculous or that the Lord give another sign.

It is also important to make known the life and virtues of this Servant of God.

Jan Korycki sac – Rome – ITALY