Born: 8 November 1867, Crescenzaga, Milan, Italy
Died: 7 September 1921, Parma, Italy
Feast Day: September 7th
Born Anna Eugenia, she was raised predominantly by her grandparents while her Italian musician parents Giuseppe Picco, blind from a childhood accident, and Adelaide del Corno toured the world. After touring the United States, Eugenia’s mother returned home without her father. She believed her father died while on tour, but the actual circumstances are unknown. Adelaide Picco, a lapsed Christian, resumed raising her daughter in a morally corrupt and irreligious environment where her mother lived with a new partner, Basilio Recalcati, whom she had three other children with. Eugenia enjoyed aspects of her new lifestyle including theater and Milanese society.
However, Bl. Eugenia described living with her mother as, “Dangers and occasions at home and outside.” Almost daily she fled her difficult and troubled environment seeking refuge in the nearby Basilica of St. Ambrose where she prayed. One silent evening in May 1886, Eugenia felt a call to sanctity. At 20 years old, she devoted her life to seeking Jesus and becoming holy. She also discerned a call to the religious life.
The Milanese Ursulines wrote & requested that the Congregation of the Little Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary receive Eugenia. On August 31, 1887, she fled her home and was immediately accepted by the founder of the congregation, the Venerable Agostino Chieppi. August 26, 1888 commenced her novitiate in Parma, Italy. On June 10, 1891 she made her first profession before Venerable Chieppi. After Bl. Eugenia made her solemn profession on June 1, 1894, she assumed various important roles within her congregation: novice mistress, archivist, general secretary and member of the council.
As Superior General, from 1911 until her death, Bl. Eugenia skillfully and joyfully performed the tasks of her office with serene and tranquil perfection even amidst the demands and difficulties of World War I. She reminded her sisters to remain faithful: “Suffer, be silent, love”. She embraced motherhood, especially the poorest and most destitute of WWI society, with courageous and tireless charity.
Bl. Eugenia is known for her passionate and unyielding devotion to the Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament was the vital fulcrum and the catalyst for all her apostolic work, interior life, and daily actions. The Eucharist was her great love, comfort, joy, and source of piety. This constant, burning love for Christ and the salvation of souls fueled her being despite the fatigue and demands of daily life.
Towards the end of the her life, her health declined. Bl. Eugenia developed a degenerative bone condition which led to the amputation of lower portion of her right leg in 1919. She offered and united her suffering with God. She remained a smiling, suffering servant all the days of her life.
She died of tuberculosis on September 7, 1921 in Parma, Italy.
St. John Paul II proclaimed her Venerable Eugenia Picco on February 18, 1989. In 1992, the healing of Camillo Talubingi Kingombe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was attributed to her intercession. After the confirmation of the first miracle attributed to Bl. Eugenia, St John Paul II beatified her October 7, 2001.
Bl. Eugenia Picco, pray for us!
- Butler’s Lives of the Saints (219)