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Friday, 20 February 2015 10:50

Nuns celebrate historic veneration

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Mother Margherita De Brincat150A Maltese order of nuns in Adelaide is rejoicing in the primary step towards canonisation of their foundress Mother Margherita De Brincat of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – the first potential saint from the island of Gozo.

This year the cause for Mother Margherita’s beatification and canonisation will continue to advance in Rome after Pope Francis proclaimed her ‘venerable’ almost a year ago. Mother Margherita died 63 years ago on January 22 and has been approved for her courage, humility, Eucharistic adoration and trust in Divine providence, among other virtues.

Her historic veneration was marked by a Thanksgiving Mass held on January 18 in Adelaide’s St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.

Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus SASixteen Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from across Australia processed into the Cathedral with Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson and knights and dames from the Knights of Malta.

During the Mass, Archbishop Wilson read the decree ordered by the Pope which outlined Mother Margherita’s life as the founder of the Franciscan order of nuns, which began in Gozo, in the Maltese archipelago, in 1880.

A miracle through the intercession of Mother Margherita is the next step towards beatification under the acts of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

“She had great devotion to the Sacred Heart and she wanted that God would be known and loved by everyone,” said Maltese-born Regional Superior Sister Vittoriana De Battista fcj.

“She wanted her Sisters to teach catechism, especially to children, and to help and train life skills to poor girls to get them off the streets,” she said. “Mother Margherita was very humble.”

Sr Vittoriana heads the order in Adelaide, where three sisters permanently reside at the regional house in Lockleys. Another three Sisters work at St Raphael’s Home for the Aged in Lockleys.

There are currently 22 Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus serving in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The order established itself in SA in 1962.

Mother Margherita was born Virginia De Brincat in November 1862 and was baptised on the same day at St George Parish Church in Victoria, Gozo. She died aged 89 at the congregation’s Mother House in Victoria in 1952. At 14 years of age she made a vow of chastity and at 21 professed her religious vows and the office of secretary of the congregation was entrusted to her. She was 27 when elected Superior General of the order, a position she held for more than 30 years following six re-elections.

Following the charism of St Francis of Assisi, Mother Margherita and her sisters observed evangelical poverty, apostolic zeal, simple joy, sincere humility and service to all as central to their mission.

This article was first published in the February 2015 issue of The Southern Cross, the official publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.