Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce - 12th October

Many are of the opinion that St. Rita could never have had such wrold-wide fame as is known today had there not existed B. Teresa Fasce, an Augustinian nun, for many years the superior of the monastery of contemplative nuns of Cascia. A magnanimous woman who, from the quietness of contemplation, managed to reach the world with the spirituality of her own prayers to God.

She was born in 1881in a small city near Genova to a family by the name of Torriglia. It was a time of turmoil as only a few years later did the unification of Italy into one state occur. She derived many values from her family and God graced her with a loving and firm character. From a young age she showed herself to be a person able to appreciate silence and solitude that many times were translated in prayer and spiritual closeness to God who, gradually, she learnt to embrace as an intimate friend. Her good natured character rendered her loved by everybody and she retained her somewhat happy childhood traints. Although she did feel an attraction to monastic life, it was not easy for her to achieve this aim. It was only after a lot of sufference and hard work that she entered the monastery of Cascia in 1906.

In the course of her profession as an Augustinian, she made a promise to herself that she would do everyting possible to cooperate with God’s grace and to live a saintly life. This ideal is found expressed in her own words in her letters in which she stated her wish  to get closer and closer to God. At the monastery she carried out various duties: mistress ofm novices, assistant to the superior and, from 1920 until her death, she served her sister nuns as superior. She chose to follow the principles of St. Augustin’s Regulation whereby superiors are urged “not to be feel themselves privileged in having other community members under their command, but, because they carry out their duty with love”. Thus, a superior should: “Warn whoever needs correction; encourage those who are afraid; help those who are weak; console those who are afraid; be patient with everyone, maintain discipline with love and to engender love rather than fear. However, although both are necessary, one should seek more to spread love rather than fear, at the same time remembering that one has to account to God for everything” (cf. Regulation of St. Augustine, Cap. VII).

All this was the basis of the life of Maria Teresa Fasce. She was an enterprising woman and she did not lose heart even when faced by great projects that are still evident these days in Cascia. She went in heart and soul into the project for the building of the Basilica dedicated to St. Rita, a modern temple and more worthy to receive the remains of the Saint of the Impossible; she started a magazine that became the sanctuary’s mouthpiece throughout the four ends of the world; she opened a house for orphans in the same monastery’s gardens where the nuns started taking care of a large number of girls with family problems. She was responsible for various other projects; a seminary for Augustinian students; a retreat house ..... In the harshest time of World War II she affronted, alone in the presence of her community, a contingent of soldiers who went there with the intention of causing considerable damage to the monastery. Showing her heartfelt love and determination they withdrew and returned to from where they had come and left the nuns in peace.

Notwithstanding these large projects, Fasce never ignored the reason why she had entered the monastery: to contemplate in prayer the blessed face of her Loved One, and to a lead a life of unity with her community. This is what she did and always encouraged her colleagues also to do heartfully. During her time there she saw the community increase in number. However, God wanted that this nun gives him everything. Maria Theresa received what she used to call “her treasure”, breast cancer which tormented her during the last few years of her life. She departed this life on 18 January 1947. Her incorrupt body rests in the inferior Basilica of Cascia, exactly beneath the chapel where there are the remains of the saint who inspired her throughout her lifetime, that of St. Rita.

Fasce used to love to say: “If God wants to permit suffering, His hands is far reaching; however, the time of suffering is precious for one to obtain merit. More appropriate is ‘Blessed be God’ whilst, on the contrary, one hundred thousand thanks when all is going well. It is necessary to praise God now; so that what is destined to occur will be done, nothing will occur if not according to His will”.

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