Blessed Pierina Morosini lived an exemplary life of devotion and purity. Pierina Eugenia Morosini was born in 1931 to Rocco and Sara Morosini at Fiobbio di Albino, a village in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. The family had a small farm. Rocco worked as a night guard at a factory and in the farm fields during the day. Pierina was baptized the day after her birth and eventually had seven younger brothers. Sara, in addition to her daily work as the mother of eight, instructed her children in their Catholic Faith. As the oldest, Pierina was her mother’s most essential helper in the family home. By the time she became a teen, she had become a skilled seamstress. In school, she made very high grades and she had dreams of one day becoming a missionary teacher.
WORK TO HELP THE FAMILY
When she was fifteen, she took a job as a shift worker at a nearby textile factory in order to help with family expenses. Her habit was to attend an early morning Mass before her 6:00 a.m. shift began. She would use her work break to slip out to a neighborhood church for some prayer time in the silent chapel. On one occasion, she had a conversation with her father about the possibility of becoming a nun. While he did not forbid her, he reminded her how very needed she was at home, for Sara was in poor health. Pierina put her wishes of becoming a nun aside indefinitely. She made her own clothing and was known to dress plainly and modestly. She had many friends both at work and at school, and was known to be rather quiet and serene.
A VERY SPECIAL PILGRIMAGE
As a teen, Pierina joined her parish’s chapter of Catholic Action, a European-based lay group which existed to create a greater influence of the Catholic faith in the community during times of anti-religious fascism. At her parish, she was asked to lead the youngest age group for Catholic Action. In that role, she had a rare opportunity to go to Rome to attend the April 1947 beatification Mass for [St.] Maria Goretti. Pierina was captivated by Maria’s story of being stabbed to death by a would-be rapist and of her extraordinary capacity to forgive her killer. The pilgrimage to Rome had a profound effect on Pierina, and she was very taken with the beauty and majesty of what she experienced in Rome. While returning from Rome, she stopped to visit a relative, and she shared with her that “the beauty of Maria Goretti had transformed her life”. She had a framed image of St. Maria in her bedroom, and gave Maria Goretti prayer cards to her Catechism class. As a layperson, Pierina became a Third Order Franciscan. It was she who taught the Catechism to her younger brothers. She had a spiritual advisor who advised her to make her own vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Pierina composed a simple rule for her daily life.
IN DEFENSE OF PURITY
The factory at which Pierina worked was located about two and one half miles from the family home, and Pierina had to walk each way through the hills and fields. She would use the time to pray her daily Rosary. On April 4, 1957, Pierina was walking home from work in the afternoon, praying her Rosary as usual. She was accosted by a stranger, who quickly tried to remove her clothing and rape her. Terrified, Pierina fought him off with all her strength. Her assailant used a rock repeatedly to bash her head. After he left her, Pierina, with a badly broken skull, was able to crawl a short distance and then passed out. When she was late to arrive home, one of her brothers went looking for her, and found her unconscious and badly wounded, but with her Rosary still clutched in her hand. She was taken to a hospital, but never regained consciousness and died two days later. She was just twenty six years old. The village of Fiobbio was stunned and heartbroken. Her funeral was the largest ever remembered in that region of Italy.
Blessed Pierina Morosini was an ordinary young woman who lived an ordinary life, but with great devotion. The only time she ever left her village was her memorable trip to Rome as a teen. Out of devotion to her family, she postponed her desire to become a nun, and instead made her home life her convent. In some ways, she followed in the footsteps of the saint she admired most. At the location where her body was discovered, there is a small memorial shrine. Thirty years after her death, in July of 1987, Pope [St.] John Paul II declared that Pierina died “in defense of purity”, and she was beatified at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on October 4 of that same year, where her surviving family members were present. Bl. Pierina is a patroness for rape victims, and the cause for her canonization remains open.