A photo taken in 2012 of the incorrupt body of Anna Maria Taigi who died in 1837. She was not embalmed. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Born: 29 May 1769 in Sienna, Italy
Died: 09 Jun 1837
Beatified on: 30 May 1920 by Pope Benedict XV
Order: Trinitarian Tertiary
Feast: 09 Jun
Patron of: housewives, mothers, victims of verbal and spousal abuse
Unlike the vast majority of saints and beata (the step before sainthood), Anna Maria Taigi was a wife and a mother. This is not to say that she is the only one. There are others but, historically, those being reviewed for sainthood have traditionally come from religious orders. The is largely due to the fact that it is the order they belonged to that makes the case for their canonization. Lay people don’t usually have an advantage like this. Apart from the many mystical experiences she received during her lifetime, Anna Maria lived much the same as any other woman of her time would have lived.
Anna Maria was born Anna Maria Gianetti in Siena, Italy in 1769 and baptized the same day. Her father, Luigi Giannetti and mother Maria Masi, ran an apothecary there but suffered a reversal of fortune which caused him to move the family to Rome. Anna Maria was only able to attend school for two years and could barely read. Her parents were not pleasant people and took out their their frustrations on their daughter.
Anna Maria began working to help out her parents. Although pious, she enjoyed dressing up. An honest, but crude, day-worker by the name of Domenico Taigi offered to marry her and Anna Maria accepted despite his having a reputation for a quick temper. They were married on 07 Jan 1789.
Anna Maria loved going to the puppet theater and wearing jewelry, practices frowned upon in some circles. She began to see this as dividing her attention between God and the world so she went to confession to Fr. Angelo of the Order of Servites. (Catholicism does not teach that there is anything inherently sinful in puppet shows or jewelry unless you let them get in the way of your relationship with Jesus. At that point they start to become idols of a sort.) While visiting St. Peter’s with her husband she felt a strong inspiration to renounce the world. With Domenico’s permission she joined the Third Order of Trinitarians in the Church of S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Although they were not rich, Anna Maria was very charitable and often visited the hospital S. Giacomo of the Incurables. Domenico only asked that she keep the house peaceful and in good order.
Peace and order became difficult to maintain when her parents moved into their house. Anna Maria tried her hardest but her mother was always looking for a fight with her quick-tempered son-in-law. Unfortunately Domenico often took out his frustration on Anna Maria. After a while her mother died but her father continued to live at their expense. Anna Maria cared for him when he came down with leprosy and helped to lead him to a Christian death.
Anna Maria and Domenico had seven children but she handled the household so well that Domenico later stated that the household was a real paradise, and that cleanliness and order reigned everywhere.
Anna Maria would rise early to attend daily Mass unless family responsibilities prevented her. On these days she would substitute by spending some free time in recollection. She involved her children in her activities. They prayed the Rosary and read from the life of the saint whose feast day it was. They went to the hospitals to visit patients with her on Sundays.
Anna Maria was also known for treating others well. Her servant girl was fed better than herself and, if any dishes were inadvertently broken, she would not lose her temper but say, “I suppose the people who make the china have to make a living too.”
After being received into the Third Order of the Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a victim of atonement for the sins of the world. In other words, she offered up her own personal suffering as a sort of prayer for the unrepentant. God responded by granting her a permanent vision of a luminous globe in which she could read the needs of souls, the state of sinners, and the problems of the Church. Although she sought to avoid these revelations, she experienced them for forty-seven years. The gift allowed many sinners to go to a holy death. Their fate was often revealed to her inspiring her to do more penances to obtain a quicker release for souls in Purgatory. Many of these souls appeared to her to thank her for their deliverance.
Although Anna Maria desired to remain anonymous, many people visited her seeking wisdom including the poor, princes, priests, bishops, even the pope. She replied very simply, avoiding praise and refusing gifts.
Although she helped others, Anna Maria spent five years undergoing what is known as a dark night of the soul, convinced that God had abandoned her and that she was going to Hell. Many holy people, including St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) experienced the same sort of thing. The experience is common enough that a 16th century Spanish mystic by the name of St. John of the Cross wrote a book by that name in which he went into detail about the experience. Despite the feelings of abandonment, Anna Maria continued to function as if nothing was wrong.
On Monday of Holy Week of 1837, Anna Maria learned in a vision that she would die on Good Friday. She blessed her loved ones and thanked them, then she died with a cry of joy. After a time her body was found to be incorrupt. It was moved several times and now rests at S. Crisogono in Trastevere.
The Chastisement Warning
Anna Maria Taigi is probably best known for the prophetic warning of a future chastisement to come upon the world. The warning reads:
“God will send two punishments; one will be in the form of wars, revolutions and other evils; it shall originate on earth. The other will be sent from Heaven. There shall come over the whole earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing can be seen, and the air will be laden with pestilence which will claim mainly, but not only, the enemies of [the Christian] religion. It will be impossible to use any man-made lighting during this darkness, except blessed candles. He, who out of curiosity, opens his window to look out, or leaves his home, will fall dead on the spot. During these three days, people should remain in their homes, pray the rosary and beg God for mercy. All the enemies of the Church, whether known or unknown, will perish over the whole earth during that universal darkness with the exception of a few whom God will soon convert. The air shall be infected by demons who will appear under all sorts of hideous forms. Religion shall be persecuted, and priests massacred. Churches shall be closed, but only for a short time. The Holy Father shall be obliged to leave Rome.”
Other saints and mystics have made similar predictions but Anna Maria’s is the most detailed.
© 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.