St.Maria De Mattias was born and baptized on 4 th February, 1805 at Vallecorsa in Italy, in an honest, modestly well-to-do family. Her original name was Maria Mattilde De Mattias. Her parents were Giovanni De Mattias and her mother was Ottavia De Angelis. From her home especially from her father she learned to pray, to love Scripture and to be open to the action of the Holy Spirit. At the age of eight Maria would sit on her father’s knee, as he related stories from Sacred Scripture, such as the lives of Abel, Isacc, Joseph and other ancient patriarchs.
One Easter her father took her to church where Maria heard about the Paschal Lamb. She asked her father to tell her what these words meant. When he explained to her that it was a figure of Jesus who was led to death like a gentle lamb, giving his life-blood for our salvation, Maria could not keep her tears. When she was still young and thus she developed a great love for Jesus, the Lamb sacrificed for the salvation of humanity. She felt drawn to an ardent love of Jesus. She used to say my parents are the master of my life. All of this happened while Vallecorsa and surrounding areas were experiencing the tragic period of banditry in 1810-1922. As a result in Maria’s soul there was a comparison between the human blood poured out in hatred and revenge and the Blood of Christ poured out for love to save the entire humanity.
At the age of Ten Maria was confirmed, the following year she received her first Holy Communion. She was not able to receive Holy Communion frequently, because when she asked permission of her confessor, he responded that once a month was sufficient. This made her feel very bad since she wished to receive Jesus frequently.
Her family was not without wealth and learning, even if women were forbidden to study. She grew up like a wonderful woman, creative and full of energy that came more from God than from herself. She loved God and people immensely, especially the poor and needy. When she was fifteen years old, she noticed how the other girls of her age were much concerned about their looks. She too, began to want fashionable clothes and jewellery and spent much time before the mirror. More than once while she was fixing her hair and trying to beautify herself, her attention was drawn to the picture of Our Lady which was in her room. She felt a movement of devotion at seeing the picture. Giovanni De Mattias continued to nurture his daughter spiritually. Sometimes when they were speaking about God and prayer, Maria asked him, “How does one pray? “ He said, when you pray, say this: ‘Mary most holy, give me, light’. He added that prayer must come from the bottom of one’s heart. Maria would go to her room, kneel before the picture of Mary most holy and repeat the words of her father.
One day while she was before the mirror, she happened to glance towards the picture of Our Lady. Deep within, she heard these words: “come to me”, she prayed, “Mary Most holy, help me”. Leaving the mirror she prostrated herself before that favourite picture and said the Hail Mary. From that time onwards she experienced such tenderness and affection for so great a mother that she felt drawn to look only at her. Blessed Virgin Mary began to instruct her in the secret of her soul. She showed Maria her divine Son and how much he had suffered in order to be loved by His creatures for whom He had shed all his Blood. With her eyes fixed on that image, she said over and over again through her tears, Mary most Holy, help me”. Maria didn’t know how to read and write. One day she happened to come across a spiritual book, and opening it, she noticed a prayer to Mary most Holy, “oh, I know how to read”. She exclaimed suddenly, I know how to read this prayer”. She continued to read from then on easily and found much encouragement in spiritual books. She believed it was Mary most Holy who taught her how to read and write. Maria prayed to Mary most holy and asked her, tell me what I must do to please your Son Jesus. Then our lady showed her Calvary and the cross, and invited her to ascend. That vision and the invitation frightened Maria. But her heavenly mother would comfort her saying within her, “do not be afraid, I will help you”.
This experience was the source, the force and the motivation that brought her to the roads of Italy: “to make known to everyone the tender love of the Heavenly Father and the Crucified love of Jesus”. She was convinced that the reformation of society begins in the heart of the person, and that a person becomes transformed when she/he comes to understand how precious each one is in God’s eyes, how much each person is loved, by Jesus who gave all His Blood to save the human race. The year 1822, at the age of seventeen, St.Gasper Del Buffalo went to preach a mission at Vallecorsa, was the turning point in the life of St.Maria De Mattias. She discovered that the Blood of Christ is total love, love without measure, without limits, without boundaries. With this discovery she says: “I felt my heart would burst”.
Being inspired by St.Gasper Del Buffalo, the Founder of the of the Missionaries of the most Precious Blood, and under the guidance of St.Gasper’s companion Venerable Giovanni Merlini, on March 4 th, 1834, at the age of 29, she founded the Congregation of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Acuto - Italy, a small town in the mountains southeast of Rome. She had been called by the Administrator of Anagni, Acuto - Italy, Bishop Giuseppe Maria Lias to teach the young girls. On her way from Vallecorsa to Acuto she stopped to meet bishop. She said to bishop, “your Excellency, I go to Acuto willingly because obedience sends me there. But I go not just to start a school but also to establish a convent”. The bishop replied that he would not fail to help her whenever he could and he blessed her undertakings and encouraged her. The people of Acuto welcomed Maria with all their heart. She arranged the classroom as best she could, and on the following day on March 4 th , 1834 she began the work of God, this was the birthday of the congregation of the Adorers of the most Precious Blood. She had a dream to establish a group of women dedicated to God’s love and the service of people.
She did not limit her activity to the school, she also gathered mothers, young girls and boys and taught them catechism and encouraged them to love Jesus and to live Christian lives according to their state. The men, to whom she could not speak according to the customs of the time , came spontaneously to listen to her, even in hiding. Maria De Mattias became known all over central Italy as “woman who preaches”. She loved God so much that she was on fire to talk with people about how much God loves us. They responded and often came from great distance to hear her message. Her consummating desire was that “not even one drop of the Divine Blood would be lost”, that it would reach all sinners to purify them so that , they would rediscover the right way to peace and union among people. Also the purpose of the foundation was to engage in Adoration of Christ Crucified and Risen, and collaborate with Him in His work of redemption, because the price of our redemption is the Blood of Christ. How the Blood of Christ inspired her at times of happiness and sadness and in success and in difficulties. She was near the Cross of Jesus like Mary mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross, in a special way during the time of painful illness that took her life. She was a woman of prayer, filled with charity and sweetness, strong and kind, alert and joyous, friendly and lively, compassionate, loving, accurate, sensible, humble and simple. Maria suffered much in her lifetime. She and her sisters were always poor, often the storeroom nearly bare, often without food and necessary things. They were ready to share what little they had with people less fortunate. Maria overcame many obstacles, jealousy of others, temptations to give up, stress of organizing and travelling, bitter cold and winter and the opposition of good people who misunderstood her work. She learned to consider it a privilege to suffer for Jesus and do good for others.
For thirty two years, until she died in 1866, Maria De Mattias used all her energies for the work of establishing and nurturing this order of women religious. That meant a lot of travelling on donkey back, on foot, by carriage, on roads that were mountain paths which were very dangerous, in all kinds of weather. Receiving women into her group called for her time and attention in helping them to understand her vision and how to live it, in preparing them for their ministry, and guiding them in their work. Her zeal and enthusiasm was caught by many young women and through them Maria De Mattias was able to open about seventy communities during her lifetime, three of which were in Germany and England. Almost all were in small isolated towns of central Italy, except in Rome which was called by Pope Pius IX. During her life she wrote hundreds of letters to leaders of society and the Catholic Church, to her family and to her dear daughters.
For thirty two years she had as her spiritual director and guide Venerable Giovanni Merlini, who was her first biographer. Maria responded to God’s call with the radical enthusiasm and single mind of passion of Saints and of a true disciple of the Lord, and she encouraged her sisters to do the same. “Happy will we be”, she wrote to them, “If we could give our lives and all our blood for faith, in order to save even one person”. Her life was one lived with the one desire of giving pleasure to Jesus, who had stolen her heart in her youth, and in a joyful commitment to save the “dear neighbour”, from ignorance regarding the mystery of God’s love for humanity. She wanted to bring about “that beautiful order of things which the great Son of God came to establish in His Blood”. The ministries she chose were the works of Evangelization and other forms of service, especially for the poor. Maria De Mattias loved, the Blood of Jesus Christ so that she knew her neighbour, the favourites of God, the sinners, the poor and the marginalized.
Maria De Mattias died at Rome on 20th August 1866, and was buried in Rome’s Verano Cemetery, according to the desire of Pope Pius IX, who chose a tomb for her and commissioned a bas-relief on it depicting the vision of Ezechiel: “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”. Her reputation for holiness remained alive after her death. On 2 nd December, 1903 Pope Pius X declared Maria “Venerable”. On 16th February, 1936 the decree of heroic nature of Maria’s virtues was solemnly proclaimed by pope Pius XI. On October 1, 1950, she was Beatified by pope Pius XII and was Canonized by Pope John Paul II on 18th May, 2003. Her remains are venerated in Rome at the church of the Precious Blood, at the Generalate of the congregation she founded. The feast day of our Congregation recognised by the Holy Church is on February 4th, the birthday of St.Maria De Mattias.
Today more than 2000 Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) are spread in all the continents of the world, in 26 Nations: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Germany, Gunea Bissau, India, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Begrado, Korea, Liechtenstein, Poland, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, United States of America, Ukraine, Guatemala, Chile and Russia. We are involved in work of evangelization through different ministries like: Education, Pastoral Ministry, Health ministry, Social activities, Family apostolate and youth ministry.
We thank God for the person of St.Maria De Mattias to the Church and to us Adorers. Our devotion is not limited with the expansion of the mission, but following the footsteps of our dear foundress St.Marias De Mattias, and going along the same road, accepting her life plan, carrying the work that the Holy Spirit brought to life through her in this world. Together with the Adorers of the Blood of Christ spread throughout the world, we join St.Maria De Mattias in her hymn of praise and we sing: “Oh all you peoples, clap your hands, acclaim the Lord with joyful and happy Voices”.
St.Maria De Mattias, Pray for us