St.Clelia Barbieri - Founder of the Sisters Minims of Our Lady of Sorrows

Clelia Barbieri is an Italian saint and founder of the Congregation of the Suore Minime dell'Addolorata (Sisters Minims of Our Lady of Sorrows). She is the youngest founder of a religious community in the history of the Catholic Church. Clelia was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1847 to Giacinta Nannetti and Giuseppe Barbieri, who were poor hemp workers. She had a younger sister, Ernista, who was born in 1850.

When her father died when she was just eight years old, she worked alongside her mother spinning hemp to support the family. During this time, her mother and younger sister moved into a house near the parish church through the generosity of her uncle. At an early age, Clelia began to spend her time in contemplative prayer. Despite her upbringing in relative poverty, Clelia was raised in a very religious household.

Clelia joined the The Workers of Christian Catechism as an assistant teacher at the age of 14. She became such an inspirational leader in the community that the parish priest, Don Gaetano Guido, entrusted her with teaching and guiding young girls in Christian doctrine. By the time she was 17, she rejected marriage offers, opting instead to lead a pious life.

Clelia eventually founded a separate group, the Suore Minime dell'Addolorata May 1, 1868, when she was only 21. The group began to minister to the poor and sick in the community.

Two years after founding the congregation, Clelia Barbieri died of tuberculosis on July 13, 1870.

The religious order of Suore Minime dell'Addolorata continues to operate 35 community houses in Italy, India and Tanzania.

She was canonised on April 9, 1989 by Pope John Paul II.   Her Feast Day is July 13th.

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