Patrick Duffy tells her story here.
Anna Maria Gesualda was born in 1769. She came from a moderately wealthy family of apothecaries in Siena. The family business failed when she was six and they had to move to Rome where she grew up in real poverty. Her parents had to work as domestic servants.
Schooling and Marriage
After her schooling she could recite most of the psalms by heart, but could scarcely read or write. Her father found employment with a relative of the prominent Chigi family and Anna fell in love with Domenico Taigi, the kitchen porter for Prince Chigi, who used to bring food to her family from the Chigi palace. They married – he was twenty eight, she was twenty. They had seven children, three of whom died.
Holiness and Tensions
Married life was hard enough. Domenico was a bit coarse, but when Anna’s mother moved in, it caused untold difficulties as she proved quite interfering. Anna Maria herself felt a call to expiate for the sins of the world by exceptional penances. She had a vision of a dazzling globe surrounded by a crown of thorns where she could see present and future events anywhere in the world as well as the state of grace of individuals, living and dead. Domenico, not having any such vision, became ill-tempered and demanding. Also Napoleon’s invasion of Rome caused the Chigi family to leave Rome and so Domenico was unemployed for some time.
Works of Charity, Prayer, and Spiritual Advice
Anna felt called to engage in many practical works of charity – caring for the sick and dying in hospitals, helping battered wives and even looking after stray cats. Many famous people – such as Napoleon’s mother Letizia Buonaparte and the daughter of the queen of Spain Marie-Louise de Bourbon – heard of her great powers and came seeking spiritual advice. She had become a tertiary of the Order of the Trinity and later became the centre of a confraternity which met every Friday for the Stations of the Cross and prayer.
Her Death and Beatification
Anna’s health failed and she died in 1837. The process for her beatification brought many testimonies of her holiness from nobles, cardinals and even the pope. Benedict XV beatified her in 1920 holding her as an example of how an ordinary mother can become a saint and influence others by her spirituality. Her feast is kept on the 9th June.
Bl Anna’s body still lies uncorrupt. >.