Cassola, Vicenza, June 26, 1827-Bassano del Grappa, Vicenza, November 26, 1889
Gaetana Sterni lived all her life in Bassano del Grappa, anancient and charming city of the province of Vicenza (Italy). She moved there with her family, at 8 years old, from nearby Cassola, where she was born on June 26, 1827. Her father Giovanni Battista Sterni, administered property for the Moras, a noble Venetian family and lived with his wife Giovanna Chiuppani and their six children. In 1835 he moved with his family to Bassano. In short, however, a series of events dramatically changed the conditions of Gaetana’s family. Indeed, her sister, Margaret, died at 18 and, after pneumonia killed her father, while her brother Francesco, left home and the family’s economic situation became critical. Because of this, Gaetana, grew up, having to share with her mother the many problems of everyday life. With good intelligence, she proved sensitive and mature but also full of life, eager to love and be loved. Her education in the faith was strong and, supported by the testimony and the teachings of her mother, prayer, the frequency for the sacraments. Collecting early in his environment esteem and appreciation for the sunny personality, full of common sense and the strong femininity. As a gracefulness rare appearance and attractiveness, Gaetana was full of charm, and strikes a young farmer, a widower with three children asking to marry her.
After assessing her feelings and taking responsibility for them, overcoming the opposition of her guardian, Gaetana accepted the proposal of Liberal Conte. The young wife was not yet 16, entered the new house and filled it with her life, restoring peace and joy to her husband and three children who love her as a mother. When Gaetana knew she was expecting a child, the happiness of the couple is complete.
A premonition of her husband’s impending death troubled Gaetana, who felt dying from crepacuor the idea of losing the person who was her most dear life, but in her heart she felt a force that helps despair and not to rely on God with all your heart. The premonition came true and unfortunately Liberal, in the prime of youth and health, after a short illness, died. The young bride living hours of terrible anguish for the loss of her husband, who she loved more than herself, for the suffering of the orphaned children and for her child who never know its father. It shocked her, but when the pain came, it itself recalled the premonition what she experienced. She returned to the Lord, putting trust in him with all her life. She found the strength to live, taking care of three small children and completing her pregnancy. But he son died a few days after birth. Thus beagan years of bitter widowhood. The family of the husband could not justify the affection that bound the orphans born Gaetana and harbored misunderstandings, suspicion and slander. She was separated from the children and moved away from her home. At nineteen she was back with his mother. Despite this evidence, she forgot herself, helping the children to accept the hardship. Affable but firm, she defended the rights of the children, forgave obtained full reconciliation with the serenity of the two families.
Suffering not strengthening, its presence became natural sensitivity, ability to mercy and solidarity.
She has never thought to be religious and looking to her future, prayed that the Lord do what her husband knew that God intended. In prayer, she clearly perceived that God wanted to be her only spouse. Gaetana was shocked. She shared this with hers confessor who confirmed that this was the genuine call of God. She then asked to enter the convent of the Canossian of Bassano and was accepted as a postulant. She lived in that community happily five months, had another premonition that prepared her for the death of her mother, which occurrred in a few days. She must leave the convent and take charge of her minor siblings. For years, she faced difficulties, family illness, financial hardship and sorrows. Despite everything can be a way of life that human beings spiritually. She met with her confessor and prayed assiduously to know God’s will for her. With humble availability she became more attentive to what God called within her heart, but also through events and the needs of the poor of her hometown.
When she was at the Canossian with the presentiment of her mother’s death, Gaetana had also sensed that God was preparing to shelter for use across all of herself in the service of the poor and thus fulfill his will. In her heart she keept this vocation for a long time before finding the courage to speak to her confessor because what seemed strange and terrible. When finally she does, her confessor did not seem to give much weight to the idea. But every time she saw a poor man admitted, she suffered the invitation “you want of my poor,” and says “the idea of Admission always pursued me.” She was 26 when she was finally free from family and the Lord could have her. Finally a serious discernment and shared, it was the Jesuit Fr Bedin who confirmed it, saying “Yes, Gaetana, the Lord wants you to the Shelter.” In 1853, “only to do the will of God”, Gaetana enter into this Hospice of begging in hosting 115 guests miserable conditions “for the most part victims of the disorder and defect” for which there is “turmoil and abuse of almost every Gender. “
There she remained for 36 years until her death and was completely committed to this ministry with tireless charity. Vigils in the bed of moribund, in the most humble service to the sick and old, she dealt with all the self-denial, the sweetness and gentleness of her people in the poor serve the Lord. She was animated by a great confidence in God, by her desire to be and to please all. In 33 years, with the consent of her confessor Don Simonetti ago vote of the entire donation of herself to God, “ready to accept whatever the Lord can provide for you.”
With unlimited confidence is left in the hands of God, “weak instrument of which he uses for his drawings.” Providence gives only the birth of the congregation is happening in the simplicity and concealment with the occupation of her first two companions in 1865. The name “Daughters of the Divine Will” inwardly at Gaetana suggested, for her and for young people who follow them, indicates what must mark “uniformity throughout the Divine Will by a total abandonment to God and a holy zeal for the good of the next , Willing to sacrifice everything but the benefit. “
Like her, the first companions were animated by the same spirit, consecrated to the will of God and were dedicated to serving the poor of Admission and our neighbors in need, especially with the assistance of the sick at home and other works of charity according to the needs that arise. The Bishop of Vicenza approved the first rules of the congregation in 1875.
Gaetana died on November 26, 1889 lovingly assisted by hers daughters and revered by her fellow citizens. Her mortal remains are venerated in the Motherhouse. Since then, its communities have multiplied and the congregation is now widespread in Europe, America and Africa.
The path to holiness that Gaetana took is, by its essence, a proposed itinerary to every Christian in everything and do what we always like to the Lord, entrusting him with unlimited confidence, to change with the sole power of the evil in the good way of Jesus.
Source: Holy See
SOURCE: Santi e Beati