For the Franciscan Family, it is a liturgical memorial celebrated on November 7, the day of her beatification, with the liturgical texts of the Mass prepared by the Diocese of Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region. Force, the hometown of Sr. Assunta, is part of this Diocese, which has chosen Sr. Assunta as its secondary patron and has ordained the liturgical texts.
Why is it celebrated on November 7 and not on April 7, the day of her death, as is often the case for saints?
April 7 falls during Lent and often in Holy Week, a time when the only SAINT, Jesus Christ, is celebrated. So many times, Sr. Assunta cannot be celebrated. The Institute requested and obtained permission from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Divine Worship to celebrate Sr. Assunta on the day of her beatification.
A bit of history
Assunta was a simple “countrywoman” of average education, living in a small village in the Marche region of Italy during a tumultuous period for the country. Assunta was born in 1878, a few years after the unification of Italy and the capture of Rome, resulting in the loss of the Papal States. It was a time of struggles and demands, but in Force, what was predominant was uncertainty about the future and the poverty of the people. Assunta’s family was also very poor and struggled to support their five children. To help her family, Assunta began working at a young age, without stifling her soul’s yearning for prayer and being with Jesus. This yearning would be realized in 1898 when she entered the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, bringing with her a great love for Jesus and all people. She was always available to everyone, with simplicity and humility considering herself unworthy of any attention. In 1904, she left for China where she continued her mission in humble household tasks and missionary work, always with simplicity and humility. She died a year later during a severe typhoid epidemic, and at her death, a strong fragrance filled the room, then the entire house. The fragrance renewed in waves and lasted for three days, leaving everyone with peace and joy they had never experienced before. This is why the Chinese missionaries called her “the Saint of Fragrances.” The beatification process, initiated by Pope Pius X, was completed in 1954 with the beatification of Sr. Assunta by Pope Pius XII.
What does this celebration mean to us?
Sr. Assunta was a full-fledged FMM who knew how to live our own lives with love and complete self-giving in every moment of the day and life. There are no extraordinary events in her life, just unwavering fidelity, humility, and simplicity. She lived in love and left us a message of love: “Do everything for the love of God; I would like to write this with my blood”. Hers is a “little way”, made up of small things that transform into great love, a path accessible to all because it is integrated into the everyday life. Her message of doing everything out of love is complemented with: “I ask the Lord for the grace to make the purity of intention known to the world, which consists of doing everything for the love of God, even the most ordinary actions.”
We can use the few words she left in writing, mostly in letters to her family or in her personal notes, few indeed. Here are some:
“If I was good, it wasn’t me, but God who gave me grace.”
“God did everything for me, and I believe He couldn’t do more.”
“Wherever Jesus wants. The will is no longer mine.”
“For me, it’s the same! To be in China or at the bottom of the sea, it’s the same for me when it’s God’s will.”
“Doing the will of God is my only consolation.”
“Thinking about the great grace the Lord has granted me, I can’t hold back the tears.”
We can use this “transitus” where her death of love is emphasized, along with the message she left with her life, especially her great love for the Eucharist.