Lucy Filippini

Lucy Filippini was born on January 13, 1672, in Corneto-Tarquinia, Italy, to a wealthy, aristocratic family. Both her parents died when she was still young and she was cared for by an aunt and uncle. Growing up, she cultivated a habit of daily prayer, practiced religious devotions and dedicated herself to the Blessed Mother.

Located in Lucy’s neighborhood was a women’s Benedictine community, and Lucy spent much of her time there. The community had a school where the daughters of the wealthy were educated. She was an excellent student, took advantage of the many religious education opportunities, and found the serenity of the community a place that fostered her spiritual growth. Her teachers and companions alike were moved by her humility, kindness and compassionate nature.

Into Lucy’s life stepped Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo, one of seventeenth century Italy’s great religious figures. He has been favorably compared to Saints Frances de Sales and Charles Borromeo. Upon making his first pastoral visit to Corneto, he made a lasting impression on Lucy. She gave up her life in Corneto in order to help him realize his vision for establishing centers to educate and evangelize young girls, especially those from impoverished families. He believed young women were the future of the Church.

At the age of 20, Lucy plunged headlong into the plans to establish schools that not only would educate young women, but would show them how to influence a healthy and faith-filled family life. In 1692, teachers were trained to staff what soon became a proliferation of women’s Catholic learning centers. Fifty-two schools were established during Lucy’s lifetime. As the community grew, it attracted the attention of Pope Clement XI who, in 1707, called Lucy to Rome to establish schools there as well.

Lucy passed away on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1732, at the age of 60. In 1930, she was canonized and given the last available niche in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Hailed as the foundress of the Pontifical Institute of Religious Teachers, her legacy goes far beyond Italy. The Institute’s mission has spread into other parts of Europe, the United States, Brazil, Ethiopia and India. Her feast day is March 25.

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