Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti

The “Little Flower” of Benedictines

Sister Maria Fortunata Viti, an Italian Benedictine of the monastery of Santa Maria de ‘Franconi, died in 1922 at the age of 95. Her death, like her life, was unremarkable and little noticed except by her sisters in community.

The third of nine children she was given the name Anna Felice. Her early life was one of hardship: her mother died when she was young and her father was a heavy drinker and gambler, leaving it to Maria to care and provide for her younger siblings. With no formal education, she remained illiterate her entire life.

After entering Benedictine life as a lay sister as Sister Maria Fortunata, she found her calling as a housekeeper, constantly praying as she went about her daily tasks of sewing, mending and washing. In her community she was known for her piety and closeness to God.

Following her death, a number of miracles were reported by people praying at her unmarked gravesite, including two young girls healed from spinal meningitis. Church authorities soon took notice and investigated. Her remains were exhumed in 1935, and moved to the cathedral in Veroli, as 5,000 people joined the procession.

Fr. Thomas Brockhaus, monk of Mount Angel Abbey, promoted her beatification. As editor of St. Joseph Magazine, he published articles about her life and spirituality, and accounts of prayer petitions to her which had been granted. Father Thomas attended her beatification in 1967 and spent some time with the sisters at their monastery in Veroli, Italy. A warm connection between the two Benedictine communities was born.

The process for Blessed Fortunata’s canonization is ongoing, and continues to be supported by the Abbey. When Abbot Jeremy Driscoll and Fr. Odo Recker led a pilgrimage to Italy in October 2019, they were welcomed by the sisters at Santa Maria de ‘Franconi. Fr. Odo, now taking the lead in promoting her cause, recently received the blessing for this effort from Abbess Maria Louisa Ferrante.

A letter from Fr. Odo Recker, O.S.B.

Dear Friends,

Mount Angel has a long-standing commitment to promoting the cause for canonization of Sister Maria Fortunata Viti, O.S.B. Our monks who were studying in Rome at the time of exhumation were part of the choir of student-monks who sung at the event in 1935. Benedictines around the world became involved in promoting her cause. The monks at Mount Angel used their national publications, The Saint Joseph Magazine and the German language Saint Joseph’s Blatt, to tell her story and ask for prayers for her canonization. In recent years promoting the cause for canonization has tapered off until it was almost lost of entirely. But now we are renewing our effort.

You may know that there are multiple stages in the canonization process. First, there is the investigation at the local level. The tribunal calls witnesses, and if a person passes this step, he or she is named a Servant of God. Once the petition goes to the Vatican and is accepted, the candidate becomes a Venerable.

A certified miracle granted through the intercession of the Venerable is needed for the candidate to be declared a Blessed by the Holy Father and allow for his or her veneration by the local Church or religious community. Finally, another miracle must be certified for the Blessed to be considered for canonization. If accepted, the Holy Father can declare the Blessed a Saint and be venerated by the universal Church.

We are seeking your help in praying for this final miracle through the intercession of Blessed Maria Fortunata. She has always been a powerful intercessor. Many favors and miracles have been granted through her intercession. We ask that if it is God’s will, that she be elevated to the rank of saint. And so we boldly ask for miracles through her.

We ask you to join us in praying for her canonization. Thank you.

Humility is the virtue that Maria Fortunata personifies. This insignificance is her greatness. We are reminded of the Magnificat, and this alone speaks to her degree of Christian authenticity and the depth of her spiritual perfection.

– Pope Paul VI (1967)