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October 20

St Maria Bertilla Boscardin - October 20

Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

Nun, Nurse, Virgin

(1888 – 1922)

“Here I am, Lord, to do your will whatever comes — be it life, death or terror.

Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin’s writing in her diary

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life

Anna Francesca Boscardin was born in Brendola, Veneto, Italy  on October 6, 1888.  In her family and town, she was known as Annette. She was a dull peasant girl, who was raised in a very dysfunctional family. According to his own testimony in the beatification process, her father, Angelo Boscardin, was jealous, violent, and struggled with bouts of alcoholism, which forced the young girl and her mother to seek safety often by fleeing the family home. So, Annette went to primary school only intermittently because of that fact combined with her help needed at home and assisting in the fields.  When she was able to attend school, Annette also worked as a domestic servant in a nearby home. 

Picked On By Others

Annette was not regarded well by her peers. Few thought her attractive and many spoke of her mediocre intelligence. And she was frequently picked on for what many saw as mediocrity. She was slapped with the nickname of “goose” by a local priest in reference to her slowness. This difficulties did not stop Annette who had a deep and abiding faith that defined her. Because of that, she was allowed to receive first holy Communion early and made early entrance into the “children of Mary” association in the parish. A catechism the priest gifted her with became a symbol of her relentless faith and was found in her pocket of her habot when she died.

Maria Bertilla

In spite of a lack of support from her pastor — who thought she was unable to amount to much in life — Annette desired to give herself completely to God as a nun. But her slowness was cited as the cause for rejection when she applied to a religious order. The priest indicated that she was at least able to peel the community’s potatoes. The Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vicenza, Italy, accepted her in 1904, bestowing her the name Sister Maria Bertilla. As she told the mother superior, her only desire was “to become a saint.” Sister Maria Bertilla had a willingness to go wherever God wanted her. But it seemed that simple tasks would be in store for her. The first year in the convent was spent in menial tasks no one else wanted, although she embraced them willingly. The next year, she was moved to a hospital, first confined to work in the kitchen but then assigned to work with the patients.

Sent to Treviso

Then, Maria was sent to Treviso, Italy to learn nursing at the municipal hospital there, which was under the direction of her order. During her training period, she was once placed to work in the kitchen. However, upon completing her training, she was promoted to working with victims of diphtheria in the hospital’s children’s ward. During the air raids of Treviso following the disastrous Battle of Caporetto, the hospital fell under the control of the military. Sister Maria Bertilla was noted for her unwavering care of her patients, particularly those who were too ill to be moved to safety.

Found Her Calling

As a missionary to the sick and marginalized, Sister Maria found her calling. She was particularly drawn to assist those who were littlest and without much hope for survival. Her gifts to minister among those who suffered and were on the brink of death were readily acknowledged by the hospital’s medical staff. By 1915, the hospital was filled with military injured during World War I. Within a few years the hospital was on the front lines of battle. Sister Maria Bertilla wrote in her diary: “Here I am, Lord, to do your will whatever comes — be it life, death or terror.”

As the heaviest bombs were dropped in her city, Sister Maria Bertilla willingly chose to stay at the wounded’s bedside, particularly with those who could not move. She was a comforting presence, bringing snacks and praying with them. Some of the injured to whom she ministered were present for her beatification and canonization.

Her Death

Sister Bertilla’s already poor health got worse. A painful tumor which she had had for several years had progressed to the point of requiring an operation. She did not survive the operation and died on October 20, 1922, at the age of 34, in Treviso Italy. Her life was marked by a willingness to go out in love and service to others. Her reputation for simplicity and devoted, caring hard work had left a deep impression on those who knew her. Some of the injured to whom she ministered were present for her beatification and canonization. 

A memorial plaque placed on her tomb refers to her as “a chosen soul of heroic goodness … an angelic alleviator of human suffering in this place.” 

Born:                   October 6, 1888 in Brendola, Veneto, Italy

Died:                   October 20, 1922 in Treviso Italy

Beatified:           June 8, 1952 by Pope Pius XII

Canonized:        May 11, 1961 by Pope John XXIII

Feast Day:         October 20

Patron Saint:    Rejection



Saint Marie Bertilla Boscardin started her youth with an abusive drunk father. She was insulted with jokes that referred to her as a “goose” due to her slowness. Saint Marie was initially rejected in her admission to become a nun. All of these rejections did not stop her from becoming a nun. Sister Marie found her true calling – nursing very ill and disturbed children – even during the air bombings of World War I. Some of the patients she had nursed many years before were present at her canonization in 1961.

Have you had any rejections during your lifetime? Pray to God to give you the grace, wisdom and strength to carry out His Will in all that you do today and each blessed day of your life.


Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin, all of your rekections never stopped you in your desire to become a saint. Please pray for us and teach us by your example to never give up serving the Lord and working hard doing God’s will in our daily tasks to become a saint like you.

Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – 7 Little-known saints who were medical professionals

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 20 October – St Maria Bertilla Boscardin (1888 – 1922)

Catholic News Agency – St. Bertilla Boscardin Feast Day: Oct 20

Catholic Online – St. Bertilla Boscardin

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

CatholicSaints.Info – Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day – Maria Bertilla (Ann Francis Boscardin)

Daily Compass – Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

Franciscan Media – Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

Independent Catholic News – St Maria Boscardin

International Catholic Stewardship Council – Stewardship Saint for October: Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

Simply Catholic – St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin: A missionary to the lonely

Wikipedia – Maria Bertilla Boscardin

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