Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Today we commemorate Blessed Antonia Messina (1919 - 1935).
Antonia was born in Sardinia, Italy, the second of ten children. She was forced to leave elementary school, only after taking four years of classes, in order to take over the household duties from her mother, Grazia. She often called Antonia "the flower of my life."
Her mother developed a heart condition that precluded her from continuing to perform her domestic chores. Grazia claimed that Antonia "never once went against me". Antonia was obedient and hard working. She willingly and diligently performed her duties and took on responsibilities as if she were already an adult. For instance, she cooked, baked, cleaned, washed clothes, cared for the children, carried water into the house, and gathered wood for baking.
When she was ten years old, she joined a youth group called "Catholic Action". She thought it was a beautiful experience and said that it "helps one to be good". She was well-liked by her peers and encouraged others to join Catholic Action (even on the day of her death) because they received spiritual benefits from good works and received good catechesis. It is no wonder, she renounced her personal pleasures and sacrificed her wants for that of her family members needs and others.
While coming home from gathering wood in a forest with a friend, Antonia was attacked by a teenage boy from behind. The attacker grabbed her by her shoulders and tried to force her to the ground while her friend screamed and ran for help. Antonia managed to escape twice but was knocked down the third time and severely beaten on the head and face with a rock. Though mortally wounded, Antonia resisted the would-be rapist. At autopsy, the doctors determined that Antonia's body had not been sinfully violated. The beautiful and virtuous, Antonia, died a martyr of holy purity at age 16 similar to St. Maria Goretti who died at age twelve. Pope John Paul II beatified Antonia Mesina on Sunday, October 4, 1987. Pope John Paul II also beatified two other twentieth century laymen and martyrs, Blessed Marcel Callo and Blessed Pierina, during that same ceremony.
Blessed Antonia is a patron of rape victims.