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June 11

St Paula Frassinetti - June 11

Saint Paula Frassinetti

Sister, Virgin, Foundress of Sisters of St. Dorothy

(1809 – 1882)

“Our Lord wills that you cling to Him alone! If your faith were greater how much more peaceful you would be even when great trials surround and oppress you.”

Saint Paula Frassinetti

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Paula was born March 3, 1809, in Genoa, Italy to Giovanni Battista Frassinetti, a cloth merchant, and his wife Angela. The third child after Giuseppe and Francesco, Paula grows in the peaceful atmosphere of her home which is later blessed by the birth of two other boys: Giovanni and Raffaele. Her mother is a model of virtue for her. Young Paula delicately opens herself to divine grace which works marvels in her according to God’s plan. 

Family Caretaker at Age 9

At only the age of 9, Angela dies leaving Paula to take care of the house. Her aunt came to help with the household. However, three years later her aunt died. Because of the endless chores at home, Paula was not able to attend school. However, each night her brothers would pass along what they had learned that day, her father filled in the gaps. So, Paula actually had a good education. She attended Mass daily, and prayed her way though all of her work.

Days of bewilderment and sorrow follow, during which she does not spare herself as she gives her father, Giovanni Battista, and her brothers, loving, delicate attention which demand of her many sacrifices. Her first Holy Communion and her brother Giuseppe’s ordination are moments of deep reflection for her who already feels, in the depth of her heart, the divine call. Within the family circle she learns to read and write, and she also receives her basic formation.

Taught by her Brother Guiseppe

Her brother Giuseppe, who is advanced in his theological studies, speaks to her about the things of God, and Paula listens and accepts his teaching. She hears the call to follow God more closely, and the Master’s words: ” Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”, find a deep echo within her.

But her father is not very enthusiastic: How can he live without his Paula?

And Paula tries to silence her desire as she awaits God’s time, and the occasion presents itself.

Moved to Quinto with Her Brother

At the age of 19, Paula developed respiratory problems. So, she went to stay with her brother Giuseppe, now a priest, at the seaside village of Quinto in Liguria. where her health improved. Parish life affords Paula the opportunity of doing good, as little by little, her gentle ways attract the youth of the neighbourhood. Every Sunday, they go to the woods to speak about God. These encounters occur often and soon other young girls join the group. Paula reveals to them the secrets of a life totally dedicated to God. She also discovers her vocation as an educator. 

On August 12, 1834, she and six other women formed a small community called the “Daughters of Holy Faith”, dedicating their lives to God. They started a small school in a church that had been dedicated to Saint Clare of Assisi. The sisters taught in the school.  Paula and the sisters are obliged to work even at night in order to survive. Enthusiasm is not lacking and this causes the school to flourish. Cholera breaks out and rapidly spreads in Genoa. Paula’s daughters are there to bring help and comfort.

Foundress of Sisters of Saint Dorothy

In 1835, a priest from Bergamo – Father Luca Passi, a friend of Father Giuseppe – having known Paula’s apostolic zeal asks her to assume the Pious Work of Saint Dorothy, which he had founded with the aim of reaching the poorest and most needy youth in their work and life environment. In this work, Paula finds her educational trend and the apostolic dimension of her consecration. Her sisters will no more be called Daughters of the Faith “, but Sisters of Saint Dorothy. It is an important moment in the life of that first group who sees the initial inspiration become more concrete: ” To be fully available in the hands of God to evangelize through education, with a preference for youth and the poorest “.

Others houses are opened in Genoa, then attention is turned to the centre of Christianity, and just seven years after the foundation, on May 19, 1841, Paula arrives in Rome accompanied by two novices. Even here she encounters many difficulties. The first house comprises two rooms above a stable at the Vicolo SS. Apostoli. Paula accepts everything and a great reward awaits her: she is received in audience by Pope Gregory XVI who is pleased with the work of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy. 

Houses Established All Over Italy

On May 19, 1841, Frassinetti established a house in Rome. The work of the institute expanded beyond Liguria and Rome, to other parts of Italy as new houses, boarding schools, and orphanages were established. In 1844, the Pope entrusts Paula with the direction of the Conservatory of Saint Maria del Rifugio at Saint Onofrio. By her gentleness and charity, Paula transforms the place. Because of her presence and activity, Saint Onofrio becomes the Mother House.

Persecution in Italy

In 1846, an anticlerical spirit spreads throughout Italy. In Genoa, even the Dorotheans are molested and the daughters of Paula are exposed to suffering.

Persecution reaches Rome: Pius IX, who has succeeded Gregory XVI, is obliged to take refuge at Gaeta, and Cardinals, Bishops and Prelates all leave Rome. Paula remains alone at the head of a numerous community and with courageous faith she overcomes those dramatic moments.

The storm calms down. In 1850, Paula obtains the desired audience with Pius IX, who is like a father to her. Moved by a great love for the Pope and for the church, she goes to Gaeta, thus repeating the gesture of Saint Catherine of Siena.

Expansion of Her Order

Paula begins the last thirty years of her life which can be defined as the period of great expansion. The Institute, besides firmly consolidating itself in Liguria and in the Pontifical State, also extends its work to other parts of Italy and the world. In fact, various educational centers are established in Rome. Paula opens a house in Naples, a boarding school in Bologna and an orphanage at Recanati. The Sisters received papal approval in 1863.

In 1866, the first missionaries leave for Brazil and in the same year Portugal is also reached. Paula sustains her daughters: ” Be burning flames that inflame with God’s love all those you come in contact with”.

Her Death

After a bout with pneumonia following several strokes in the dawn of June 11, 1882, Paula is serene. Her passing away is tranquil thus bringing into evidence the richness of her life, as she invokes the Blessed Virgin whom she has always loved so much: ” My Mother, remember I am your child “.  Saint Paula Frassinetti is entombed at Saint Onofria, the Dorothean motherhouse in Rome, Italy. Her body was found to be incorrupt in 1906.

On March 11, 1984, the bells of Saint Peter’s ring out to announce that Paula is a Saint.

Their joyous peal reaches those parts of the world where the Dorotheans work for God’s greater glory and the extension of His Kingdom: Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta, England, Switzerland), North America (U.S.A.), Latin America (Brazil, Peru), Africa (Angola, Mozambique), Asia (Taiwan). There are about 1,200 sisters active in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Born :                  March 3, 1809 in Genoa, Italy

Died:                   June 11, 1882

Beatified:           June 8, 1930 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:        March 11, 1984 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:         June 11

Patron Saint:    Sick People



Hard to believe that a young girl who dropped out of school at the age of nine, would go on to found a new order, the Sisters of Saint Dorothy that would have houses, schools, and orphanages, not only in Italy, but all around the world. All becuase of her faith in God.

What do you think you can’t do today? With faith and prayer, you can “move mountains” just like Saint Paula Frasinetti.


Saint Paula Frassinetti, you were able to care for the sick, the needy youth and elderly. May you intercede for us to help us care for all the sick, needy youth and elderly that we encounter in our daily lives at home,in our neighborhoods and abroad just as you did.

Saint Paula Frassinetti, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

America Needs Fatima – Saint Paula Frassinetti – Feast Day June 12 – Foundress of the Congregation Saint Dorothea

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Paula Frassinetti – Foundress of the Congregation St Dorothea

Catholic Fire – St. Paula Frassinetti: A Saint for the Sick

Catholic Online – St. Paula Frassinetti

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Paula Frassinetti

The Sisters of Saint Dorothy 

Vatican – Paula Frassinetti (1809-1882) Virgin, Foundress of the Congregation St Dorothea

WikipediaPaula Frassinetti

Video Link

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