On June 22, at the same time that Pope Francis declared Venerable, Sister Lucia dos Santos (one of the three “shepherd girls” who witnessed the apparitions of Fatima), he also declared as Venerable, Sister Anna Cantalupo, Daughter of Charity.
Sister Anna was born in Naples, on September 3, 1888, and was baptized (with the name Pia) by her uncle who was a priest.
On May 31, 1902 she decided to consecrate herself to God and soon began her formation with the Daughters of Charity in Naples and later in Paris. On Christmas night 1913 she pronounced her vows with great fervor and this act increased her capacity for full and joyful dedication. Sister Caterina, her first religious name, set out to minister in Naples with great enthusiasm and much love. She set no limits to her self-giving, work and practice of virtue.
In December 1919 she arrived in Catania and began her ministry of “helping the poor at home”. Sister Cantalupo was then called Sister Anna (because it was customary among the Daughters of Charity to change their name at the beginning of each new assignment). With enthusiasm she began to organize the distribution of medicines, clothes and shoes to the families in this area. She did this with a sense of organization that was enhanced by charity, respect and Vincentian cordiality.
In the Casa della Carità and in the city her dedication to the poor was constant, and she was seen walking through the city in search of people in need.
She identified with all the sufferings of her brothers and sisters and did so with the authentic heart of a Daughter of Charity. She reached out to people in order to console them, give them hope and lead them to God. The glory of God and the will of God were her abiding goals.
She reached out to the poor, to the needy, to war veterans and to the marginalized – such as the deaf-mute shoeshine boys in Piazza Stesicoro – whom she brought closer to the Church. Several priests also received her support.
In 1958, the city of Catania showed its gratitude to the “Mother of the Poor” by granting her honorary citizenship with the “unanimous acclamation” of the City Council.
In the early morning of March 17, 1983, she went into a coma only to awaken in eternity. She rests in a simple sarcophagus in the Casa della Carità in Catania. The Eucharist and devotion to Our Lady supported the charitable work of Sister Anna, the humble but exemplary leader of the Daughters of Charity in Catania.
The “fame of holiness” is alive especially in Catania, where this Daughter of Charity has become a point of reference for all charitable and catechetical activities.
The process of beatification of Sister Anna is underway: the Diocesan Inquiry was opened on October 27, 1997 and closed on April 22, 2008. The cause of the Servant of God, Sister Anna Cantalupo now continues at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
P. Vincenzo Di Blasio