VENERABLE MOTHER CARMELA PRESTIGIACOMO
The Venerable was born in Palermo, Sicily on October 15, 1858 and was baptized the next day named Francesca Paola.
Her childhood was spent in a deeply Christian environment under the serene enlightened evangelical witness of her parents.
The small Francesca Paola grew up in a serene atmosphere as you can see.
At 10 years old she received the Holy Communion. She grew like everyone of her time, in ordinary way and it seems she was a little conceited, with dynamic disposition, she loved theatre and recreation. It seemed to a common observer that girl was thoughtless… In fact she had a profound aspiration that she disclosed only to her spiritual director – Father Luigi La China.
At 16 years old the dream of Francesca Paola to be a nun come true and she became part of the Religious Community from Palermo – Institute of the Sacred Heart. After some months of Novitiate she was uncharged with education responsibilities and on June 12, 1875 she had her first religious profession with the name of Carmela of Jesus.
For about 10 years of religious life in the Institute of the Sacred Heart although faithful to the evangelical councils she was attracted to the contemplative and apostolic life.
After mature reflexion and mutual concert with her confessor she left the Institute of the Sacred Hearts on 11 May, 1884.
On September 1884, feast of the Triumph of the Cross in Palermo she founded the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of the Incarnate Word. The Archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Celesia authorized Don Emmanuel Calì, confessor of Sister Carmela to receive on that day the simple Religious Vows.
Mother Carmela gave to her Congregation an indelible mark: a life of higher contemplation. The Servant of God declared: “we must pray and pray well… because the prayer is a sweet violence to the Heart of God”.
In spite of the strong life of contemplation the Institute developed apostolic activity. Mother Carmela opened schools for the young children of the common people and the Catechistic Sunday School to be in keeping the contemplative and apostolic life as Jesus asked her.
Her activity was not interrupted, she did as far was possible that the nuns were not in need and the Institute did the best. She had been busy for the Church approval of the Congregation and this was declared on 27 January 1930 as congregation of Pontiff Right while the Constitution were approved on February 18, 1941.
Mother Carmela understood the centre of Christian dimension, the Mystery of the Incarnate Word, and she meditated it during her long life. From that interior dimension sprang out the energy of an activity carried out through apostolate, youth education helping them to discover through the culture that she had lived.
Mother Carmela describe the foundation of her spirituality and of the Institute based on contemplation of the merciful Father, revealed in the wounded Heart of the Incarnate Word.
This contemplation has two aspects and Mother lives both : victim state, that become victim in the Victim, to offer herself totally as Christ had offered Himself, that is reparations for the personal sins and for those of the humanity.
On the last year of her life, 1948, she was 90 years old and in a fall she fractured both arms. She was in continued help and the pain for the body position was dreadful and she endured with serenity. In that year broke out in Rome a mortal epidemy and the young part of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of the Incarnate Word were very sick. In fact, the young religious were the future of the Order.. Mother Carmela, then, offered herself to the Lord instead of the young sisters.
Mother Carmela died on December 14, 1948 at 19:45’. Her remains are resting in the Chapel of the general house on Via Guattani, 7 / Rome.
After the nihil obstat of Sicilian Bishop’s Conference, on December 8, 1990 was opened the Diocesan Process till 13/04/1993. The edict for the Romana Cause of Beatification and Canonization was issued from the Vicariate of Roma on May 13, 1991. The Positio Super Virtutibus was concluded and approved on July 16, 2000. (note biographic given from Zubiani and Arce’s book: Nel Cuore del Verbo).