On Sunday 2 October, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. represented the Holy Father at the beatification of Antonia Maria Verna (1773-1838). The beatification ceremony was held in the cathedral of Ivrea, Italy.
In his homily Cardinal Bertone highlighted the present-day validity of the new blessed’s educational ideas, which remind us of the vital need for schools in which the religious dimension “can be revealed in all its positive potential for full human development. This aspect is also very important for our time”, he said. “Too often it seems that people are afraid to leave space for the religious dimension of life, which is inherent to the human heart, and would like to hide it in the private world of the individual. Such an attitude greatly impoverishes educational activity”.
Mother Verna’s message “invites us not to be afraid to educate people in the demanding choices which Jesus continues to present in the Church”. She was a pioneer of female education, who worked towards “the authentic promotion of women in the society of the day”.
“In collaboration with the civil authorities of her time, Mother Antonia strove for a form of education … that could reach the largest number of children and help them to develop all dimensions of their personality, completely and harmoniously”.
Cardinal Bertone laid emphasis on the many primary and secondary schools founded by the new blessed and her congregation, the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. This, he said, “calls upon us to consider, today more than every, the role of institutions which enjoy parity with State schools as a factor enriching a nation’s education”. The schools run by the Sisters of Charity in Europe, America, the Middle East and Africa have produced “generations of teachers who have been, and continue to be, true educators whose contribution to the cultural and social development of their countries is difficult to evaluate and too often forgotten”.