Daughter of a notary, and the oldest of eleven children. It was a pious family – three of her sisters became nuns, one brother a priest. Maria joined the Daughters of Our Lady of Refuge (Brignolines) in Genoa, Italy on 7 May 1829, making her final vows in 1831. Seamstress and embroiderer for many years.
When her eyesight began to fail, she was made portress and gatekeeper of her convent, keeping the world out, and being the face of the convent to those outside. Believing in the good of work, and needing diplomatic skills in her position, Sister Maria developed a deep devotion to Saint Joseph, constantly asking for his prayers, protection and guidance. She distributed small medals and images of Joseph, and could heal by placing the image over the affected area, and praying. Owning nothing herself, she still managed to care for the poor. Maria worked selflessly with the sick during cholera epidemics of 1835 and 1854.
Maria’s largesse caused some troubles within her community. The sheer number of people who showed up each day was considered by some of her sisters to be a disruption to their religious lives, and for a while Sister Maria was relieved of her position. She believed it was because she had sinned in some way, and spent most of her time in prayer. Eventually, however, her superiors re-evaluated their decision, and returned Maria to her place at the door.
[A woman came to the convent to ask] for prayers for her husband who had gone blind. Sister [Maria] advised her to pray to Saint Joseph, then she went to her room and turned the picture of the saint towards the wall, saying, “Try yourself to see what it means to be in the dark.” The next day the woman returned and said that suddenly her husband’s sight had returned. Sister Maria quickly ran to her room and turned the picture back around, simply saying, “Thank you, Saint Joseph!” Her behavior, which might seem a bit surprising, shows her complete childlike freedom with respect to the great saint. – Dom Antoine Marie, OSB, discussing Blessed Maria
From her youth Maria Repetto learned and lived a great truth, which she has trasmitted also to us: Jesus must be contemplated, loved and served in the poor, at all moments of our life.. To serve Christ’s poor was a program of her Institute, a program which she carried out in fifty years of religious life, serving Jesus above all, growing in the perfection of love. – Pope John Paul II in his beatification homily for Blessed Maria
- “Blessed Maria Repetto“. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 January 2014. Web. 6 July 2015. <>