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March 21

St Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello - March 21

Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello


Foundress of Benedictine Sisters of Providence

(1791 – 1858)

“When God wants something, He does not fail to find the appropriate means.”

Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

Saint’s Life Story

Her Birth

Benedetta was born on October 2, 1791, in Langasco, Campomorone in Genoa, Italy as the last of six children to Giuseppe Cambiagio and Francesca Ghiglione. From her parents Benedetta received a Christian formation that rooted in her the life of faith. Her family settled in Pavia when she was a girl. When she was 20 years old, Benedetta had a mystical experience that gave her a profound desire for a life of prayer and penance, and of consecration to God. However, 

Marriage to Giovanni Frassinello

In 1816, in obedience to the wishes of her parents, Benedetta married Giovanni Frassinello. They lived married life for two years. In 1818, moved by the example of his saintly wife, Giovanni agreed that the two should live chastely, “as brother and sister”. During this time, they decided to take care of Benedetta’s younger sister, Maria, who was dying from intestinal cancer. They began to live a supernatural parenthood quite unique in the history of the Church.

Ill and Cured

Following Maria’s death in 1825, Benedetta devoted herself completely to God in the Ursuline Congregation of Capriolo. Giovanni entered the Somaschi Fathers founded by St Jerome Emiliani. A year later she was forced to leave because of ill health. Benedetta returned to Pavia where she was miraculously cured by Saint Jerome Emiliani.

New Congregation

Once she regained her health, with the Bishop’s approval, Benedetta dedicated herself to the education of young girls. Benedetta needed help in handling such a responsibility, but her own father refused to help her. Bishop Tosi of Pavia asked Giovanni to leave the Somaschi novitiate and help Benedettain her apostolic work. Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the hands of the bishop, and then began their common work to promote the human and Christian formation of poor and abandoned girls of the city. Their educational work was of great benefit to Pavia. Benedetta became the first woman to be involved in this kind of work. The Austrian government recognized her as a “Promoter of Public Education”.

Benedetta was helped by young women volunteers to whom she gave a rule of life that later received ecclesiastical approval. Along with instruction, she joined formation in catechesis and in useful skills like cooking and sewing, aiming to transform her students into “models of Christian life” and so assure the formation of families.

Foundress of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence

Benedetta’s work was considered pioneering for those days and was opposed by a few persons in power and by the misunderstanding of clerics. In 1838 she turned over the institution to the Bishop of Pavia. Together with Giovanni and five companions, she moved to Ronco Scrivia in the Genoa region. There, they opened a school for girls that was a refinement on what they had done in Pavia.

Eventually, Benedetta founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence. In her rule she stressed the education of young girls. She instilled the spirit of unlimited confidence and abandonment to Providence and of love of God through poverty and charity. The Congregation grew quickly since it performed a needed service. Benedetta was able to guide the development of her new Congregation until her death.

Her Death

On March 21, 1858, Benedetta died at the age of 66 in Ronco Scrivia, Italy. Her example is that of supernatural maternity plus courage and fidelity in discerning and living God’s will.

Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil. They are at the service of young people, the poor, the sick and the elderly. The foundress also opened a house of the order in Voghera. Forty years after the death of Benedetta, the bishop separated this house from the rest of the Order. The name was changed to the Benedictines of Divine Providence who honor the memory of the Foundress.

Born:                   October 2, 1791 in Langasco, Campomorone, Genoa, Italy

Died:                   March 21, 1858 age 66 in Ronco Scrivia, Italy

Beatified:           May 10, 1987 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:        May 19, 2002 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:          March 21

Patron Saint:     Benedictine Sisters of Providence; Educators; Teachers



Although every Saint’s story is unique, Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello’s story is really truly unique. She founded a new order, the Benedictine Sisters of Providence, while she was married with the help of her husband while remaining celibate.  She let the Holy Spirit guide her through married life to the work of opening a school for the formation and education of young women with aim of transforming her students into “models of Christian life”. 

How can you let the Holy Spirit guide you today to do amazing deeds? Like Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, your maritial status does not stop the Holy Spirit from working wonders through you. 


Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, you liked to repeat, that one must “do everything for love of God and to please Him”.  We pray that through your intercession, we may also “do everything for love of God and to please Him” for everyone that we encounter during our daily endeavors at home with family, at work with coworkers or at school with teachers and classmates. Come Holy Spirit, enkindle the hearts of your faithful!   Help us to spread the fire of your love in the world.   Amen!

St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 21 March – St Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello (1791 – 1858)

Catholic Fire – Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello: Wife, Religious, Foundress

Catholic Online – St. Benedicta Cambiagio Frassinello

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Benedicta Cambiagio Frassinello

Gulf Coast Catholic – St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello 1791-1858 | Feast: March 21

RC Spirituality – St. Benedicta Cambiagio Frassinello

University of Notre Dame (Faith ND) – St. Benedicta Cambiagio Frassinello

U.S. Catholic – St. Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

WikipediaBenedetta Cambiagio Frassinello

Video Link