A simple soul, docile to divine designs, without ceasing to be a common housewife, she was a counselor to noblemen and ecclesiastics. She accompanied and prophesied events seen in the very light of God.
Newsdesk (10/06/2021 23:25, Gaudium Press) Born on May 29, 1769, she received the name Anna Maria Antonia Gesualda Giannetti the next day, at the baptismal font of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Siena.
The only child of a young couple, Luigi Giannetti and Maria Santa Masi, the charming little girl grew up receiving her first Christian teachings from her good mother.
Luigi had inherited from his father a renowned pharmacy, considered to be one of the best apothecaries in all of Tuscany.
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, Wife and Mother of Seven Children
For six years Anna would play carefree among the vineyards, cypresses, and olive groves of those sandy Tuscan plains, crowned by the blushing walls of the rose groves, where the Giannetti family lived in a beautiful house on San Martin Street.
However, the happy years were short-lived, as Luigi, with his reckless and extravagant spirit, soon had to sell everything to pay his debts and leave the city.
In complete ruin, but with his honour intact, he decided to start life anew from afar. And for that, he chose the Eternal City.
The First Years in Rome
Life in Rome brought a radical change in the habits of Anna’s family, who moved to a poor, small house in the Monti district.
Anna’s parents were forced to work as servants in family homes, earning only what was necessary to ensure a meager diet.
In this period little Anna was enrolled in the free school of Via Graziosa, under the care of the Institute Maestre Pie Filippine. There she learned religion, reading, arithmetic, and housework, but she only learned to write her name, as her studies were interrupted due to an epidemic of smallpox.
As she no longer attended school, she was forced to work to help the family. She worked in a small workshop, where she carded silk and sewed.
On returning from work, she devoted herself to household chores. Unlike her parents, even in adversity, the young girl maintained a constant smile.
A Life of Worldly Vanities
As the years went by, Anna became a beautiful and vain girl, dreaming of making a happy and prosperous home. She was very interested in the romantic literature of the time and was assiduous in attending parties and balls.
In 1787, she abandoned her work in a studio to take a job as a maid at Maccarani Palace, where her father worked. The mistress, Mrs. Maria Serra Marini, pleased with the new employee, also offered her mother a job, as well as some rooms in the palace, and the Giannetti family moved there.
Mrs. Serra Marini, enchanted by the young girl, continually praised her, causing her to become increasingly vain. She gave dresses to Anna that she no longer wanted to wear, and Anna accepted them with pleasure.
In 1790, Anna married Domenico Taigi, a servant of the nearby Palace of Prince Chigi. They took up residence in a small flat in the service wing of the Chigi Palace, a gift from the generous Prince to the newlyweds.
Domenico was proud of his beautiful wife, who adorned herself elegantly, causing her to be admired by all at balls, puppet theatres, and outings.
She took marital fidelity very seriously, fulfilling all her obligations as a wife and taking her husband as her master, having an entire affectionate submission to him, which gradually softened her difficult character. At the age of twenty-one, her first child was born.
A Total Conversion
Until then, nothing had given Anna a glimpse of the special calling to which she had been predestined by Providence.
Without any apparent explanation, anguish and anxiety began to take hold of the young mother’s heart, showing her the emptiness of her life.
One Sunday, while walking with her husband through Bernini’s colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, she came across a Servite of Mary, Father Angelo Verardi, whom she had never seen before.
The two looked at each other and the priest heard a supernatural voice warning him, “Pay attention to this woman, she will be entrusted to you one day and you will work for her conversion. She will become holy because I have chosen her to be a Saint.”
Anna saw that look in his eyes, but she did not understand it. However, from that moment she began to lose her taste for worldly things.
She tried to calm her anxiety by speaking to her confessor, but he confined himself to the usual advice for married women: be faithful and obedient to your husband.
She then sought out other confessors. However, none of them succeeded in restoring her peace of soul.
Finally, she decided to visit the Church of San Marcelino, where she had been married, and there found a priest in the confessional. It was Father Angelo Verardi!
As Anna knelt to go to confession, the priest heard the same voice again, “Look at her… I call her to holiness”. Full of joy and satisfaction, he said to her, “You have come at last, my daughter. The Lord is calling you to perfection and you cannot refuse his call.” He then told her the message he had received in St Peter’s Square.
From then on she renounced all worldly vanities and no longer took part in futile amusements, finding instead the greatest consolation and joy in prayer.
The Beginning of a New Life
A life of prayer, penance, and austerity began for this blessed woman of a simple and unknown condition. Visions, revelations, sufferings, healings, and miracles would now be her daily life, without her ever ceasing to fulfill her duties as wife and mother.
Seven children blessed that home, three boys and four girls. However, Providence chose to take three of them when they were still very small.
As a loving mother, she watched over the education of the little ones, transforming her home into a true sanctuary. Order reigned in every corner; on the walls, religious symbols were arranged with taste and piety.
A lamp was kept burning continually in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the font of holy water was never dried up, replenished every day to drive the demons away.
The routine followed an almost monastic discipline, with times for prayers, meals, conversation, and leisure, always in the harmony and peace characteristic of a Catholic family.
She never argued with her husband, managing to mediate the difficulties between them, and never failed to correct the children, watching over their innocence and the salvation of their souls.
After her conversion and with her husband’s consent, she decided to enter the Trinitarian Third Order, considering it glory to wear her white scapular with the blue and red cross as her insignia.
However, she had to wait several more years to receive the holy Trinitarian habit, which took place in 1808.
On this long-awaited day, she heard the voice of the Savior saying to her,
“I destine you to convert sinful souls, to console people of all conditions: priests, prelates, and even my Vicar. To all who hear your words, I will fill them with special graces… nevertheless, you will also meet countless false and treacherous souls, and you will become a cause for scorn, contempt, and slander. But you will endure all this for love of Me.”
Anna replied, somewhat frightened, “My God, whom have you chosen for this work? I am an unworthy creature.” The same voice answered her, “I wish it to be this way. It is I who will lead you by the hand, like a lamb led by its shepherd to the altar of sacrifice.”
Extraordinary Mystical Graces
The graces dispensed to her were singular and very special. Sometime after being called to the way of perfection, she began to see a globe of supernatural light close to her, a ‘mystical sun’, as she called it, in which she had long colloquies with the Divine Creator. She could see present events and foresee future ones; she could scrutinize the secrets of souls and hearts, as one might see in a film or read in a book.
This phenomenon accompanied her until the end of her life.
In her first appearances, the light of this ‘sun’ had the colour of a flame and was like a golden disc. However, as the Blessed Anna progressed in virtue, it brightened and took on a more intense light than seven suns put together.
This radiance stood before her at a distance of approximately a metre, about twenty centimetres above her head. There was a crown of thorns encircling the whole diameter of the globe horizontally, and from this descended two long thorns, one on the right and the other on the left of the circle, crossing each other with their points bent downwards.
In the centre of the sphere, there was seated a majestic woman, contemplative, with her forehead raised towards Heaven and she glowing with the most vivid light.
Concerning this supernatural phenomenon, Cardinal Pedicini, who lived with Anna and was her confidant for 30 years, testified,
“For forty-seven years, day and night, in her home, in church or in the street, she saw, in her ‘sun’, ever more brilliant, all the physical and moral things of this earth; she penetrated the abysses and ascended to Heaven. She saw the places, the people transacting business, their political ways, the sincerity or duplicity of ministers; all the subterranean politics of our century, as well as the decrees of God to confound the great personages. Moreover, she exercised an apostolate without limits, winning over souls in all parts of the globe, preparing the ground for missionaries; the whole world was the theatre of her labours”.
She also saw in her globe of light the souls who were being saved or lost forever. If someone approached her in a state of grace, the light became more intense and she sensed the perfume of virtue. If, on the contrary, it was a perverted soul, the globe remained in darkness and she smelled the terrible odour of sin.
She was sought after by common people, noblemen, diplomats, and ecclesiastics, all seeking her advice in the most varied fields of spirituality and human life.
Everyone respected and feared her, for she reflected in her physical appearance the nobility of her soul: a simple domestic with the bearing of a queen.
Special Gifts: Healings and Miracles, Visions and Predictions
Rapt in ecstasy at any time or place, she also suffered many kinds of illnesses.
Countless were the events of everyday life that attested to her special gifts, especially those of healings and miracles.
One day, for example, her granddaughter poked her eye with a prune stone and practically lost her sight. The Blessed, making the sign of the Cross in the child’s eye with the oil from the lamp she kept burning at home, healed her to the point that she was able to go to school the next day.
Her husband was also the object of her miraculous intervention when one winter morning he had an apoplectic attack while he was in the Church of Saint Marcellus. With her prayers, Anna obtained a prodigious and instantaneous cure.
In her mysterious ‘sun’ she foresaw various events, among them the election of many Popes following that of Pius VII, and foretold in advance events that would take place under their pontificates.
One of these, worthy of note, was when, while praying in the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, seized by an ecstasy she saw Cardinal Cappellari, present there, as the future Pope under the name of Gregory XVI. And so it was fulfilled.
In the same way, she announced the election of Father Mastai-Ferretti as Pius IX, in a rapid conclave of only 48 hours, and predicted all the tribulations of that pontificate, when this priest was still in the Nunciature of Chile.
Despite her lack of education, she spoke of the mysteries of our Faith with the depth of a theologian. She left the most learned astonished, giving precise answers with theological justness.
Since she was unable to write, it was Bishop Raffaeli Natali – the main Postulator of her Cause for Beatification and who lived with the Taigi family – who wrote down the addresses and divine messages received by the Blessed.
A Victim of Love for the Church to the End
Blessed Anna Maria was ‘a victim of both the Church and Rome’. Her love for the Church consumed her. Providence often asked her to suffer for the good of the Mystical Body of Christ without revealing to her exactly what the end would be.
In her last illness, Our Lord wanted her to share in His pains in the last hours of the Cross, suffering total abandonment.
Having received the Holy Viaticum on a Wednesday and the Extreme Unction on the following day, she felt the pangs of death. Yet, all those around her thought that her end had not yet come, thus leaving her alone and tranquil.
At dawn on Friday, June 9, 1837, Msgr. Natali had a premonition of her passing to eternity and went to the home of the sick woman, finding her alone in her last moments.
He prayed the Prayers of the Church for this extreme hour, gave her the last absolution, and the Blessed departed for the Heavenly Mansion.
Her body remains incorrupt in the Church of San Crisogono of the Trinitarians in Rome, as a testimony to the victory of the Church.
Text excerpted, with adaptations, from the magazine Heralds of the Gospel n. 114, June 2011.
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