Holy Person of the Month: Bl. Eugenia Picco

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)
Photo Credit: Catholic.com

To My Nephew,

Happy Feast of Corpus Christi! Our entire family is overflowing with joy and gratitude with the grace and excitement of celebrating your First Holy Communion and Confirmation. This weekend that commemorates and celebrates the Most Holy Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ begins your full journey within the sacramental life of the Catholic faith.

How do I explain the gift & truth of the Eucharist in our modern times marked by relativism and skepticism of the divine? How do I impress upon you that your First Holy Communion and each instance you receive the Eucharist you receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (God and Man who walked the earth 2,000+ years ago) under the appearances of bread and wine? How do I express the mystery of this sacrament and the consummate relationship we enter into with God through the gift of the Eucharist? Ultimately, as you age, despite all the modeling, explanations, witnesses, and prayers of your family and loved ones, you will make a personal choice as a child of God and your relationship with the Holy Trinity.

As you learned, and by the grace of God and the gift of faith may come to know in your heart, mind, body, and soul, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith. The Eucharist & the Eucharistic relationship is why we are Catholic- why we live, breath, suffer, die, and rise in the newness of eternal life. May the Eucharist, like the Church, become the source and summit of your life. Whatever happens in your life, cling to the Eucharist. There you will find: beauty, peace, life, love, hope, passion, purpose, and truth. All things lacking in our distracted and relativistic society. People, whether they know it or not, search their whole life seeking what your just received within you- Jesus Christ.

Tragically, the world, society, peers, authority figures, relatives, or romantic interests will try to beat the truth out and distract you from the truth of childlike faith- the acceptance that this is Jesus Christ fully present within the Eucharist. Their arguments will be convincing, popular, rational, interesting, and less confrontational veiled under the threat of stigmatization, ostracizing, intolerance, rationalization, and relativism. You will learn in due course, there is an earthly price to be paid as a Christian, especially a Catholic Christian. But Be Not Afraid for Christ has already overcome the world!

As you mature and develop from a boy of God into a man of God, always remember you are a Child of God. The measure of authentic manhood and masculinity, like our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Joseph or St. Francis of Assisi your confirmation saint, is our love for God- beginning with the most tangible metaphysical intangible in our earthly lives the Eucharist. This lifelong love will permeate all other aspects of your life: how and why you make decisions, your pull towards virtue or vice, your peace or turmoil in times of uncertainty or fear, how you live out your earthly vocation, and the narrow road which leads to heaven and eternal life. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

Since I know you appreciate an epic saga, I will quote a Doctor of the Church who experienced his own epic life saga. St. Augustine of Hippo wrote, ” “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.”

This weekend you were sealed with the Holy Spirit and may the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit be apart of your daily life, every moment from this day forward. Dominic, our family loves you dearly and that love will continue to grow and mature as we all mature and grow together in our wonderful earthly adventure of sainthood filled with moments of the agony and ecstasy. You are not alone in this journey. As you so eloquently explained, Christ is everywhere. He is also waiting for you in the tabernacle, monstrance, and paten. The Holy Spirit is your spiritual breath. And God the Father grants graces from above and eagerly awaits your homecoming. Our Lady will lead you closer to the Trinity as she herself entered into communion with the Holy Trinity. And all the angels and saints, including St. Francis of Assisi, will always be with you in this life & the next. As I will be, whether next to you or above.

With all my love and affection,

Aunt Hannah

A.M.D.G. JM+J