- Mother Maria of the Immaculate
Eldest of four children born to Giovanni and Prudenza Zamperini, Maria grew up in a small farm village She received only three years of elementary school, learned religion from her pious parents, and was early drawn to religious life. In her teens, Maria’s parish priest and spiritual director, Blessed Giuseppe Nascimbeni, encouraged her to visit the sick, teach catechism, and become active in her parish work.
On 8 December 1886, Maria made a private vow of virginity, and asked for Our Lady‘s guidance in how best fulfill her religious vocation. In 1892, Maria and Father Nascimbeni founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family with four women; Maria took the name Mother Maria of the Immaculate, but everyone simply called her Mother. Their mission was to promote parish life and help the spiritual and material well-being of people in need, and Maria served as first Superior General, guiding the Congregation for the next 40 years. She was known for the depth and intensity of her prayer life, her devotion to Our Lady, and her gentle spiritual guidance to her sisters and the townspeople alike. Today the Little Sisters of the Holy Family work in Italy, Switzerland, Albania, Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay, serving children and youth, families, priests, the elderly and the disabled in parishes.
The Holy Family, for the great and mysterious project [that God is calling it to], has chosen me as its Cofoundress, knowing that the Lord uses the least qualified, little, unknown instruments to do great works. I am tranquil and convinced that the Institute, the work of God, will be provided for and guided by Him. – Blessed Maria
This praiseworthy daughter of the region of Verona, a disciple of Blessed Giuseppe Nascimbeni, was inspired by the Holy Family of Nazareth to make herself “all things to all people”, ever attentive to the needs of the “poor people”. She was extraordinarily faithful, in all circmstances and to her last breath, to the will of God, by whom she felt loved and called. What a fine example of holiness for every believer! – Pope John Paul II, from his homily during the beatfication of Blessed Maria
- “Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 January 2016. Web. 25 October 2016. <>