Sister Rosa Maria Segale

Sister Rosa Maria SegaleAlso known as

  • Sister Blandina
  • Fastest Nun in the West


Born to a poor peasant family in a small mountain village, the daughter of Francesco and Giovanna Malatesta. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1854, and she grew up in a poor immigrant enclave in Cincinnati, Ohio. Educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati where she was impressed by their work with the sick, poor, orphans, and as nurses in the American Civil War.

Rosa joined the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati on 13 September 1866, taking the name Sister Blandina. In 1872 she was assigned to work as teacher in Trinidad, Colorado, then in 1877 in New Mexico where she helped found Catholic schools, public schools, trade schools, orphanages and hospitals in Sante Fe and Albuquerque, and worked to teach and heal the poor, the marginalized, women, children, and the often abused and neglected Native Americans and Latinos of the region. Her example converted hundreds to Christianity. In 1897 she founded the Santa Maria Institute in Cincinnati to serve immigrants, and served as its leader until 1933; the Institute continues its work for the poor and marginalized today. Her Cause for Canonization has opened.

The “Fastest Nun” moniker came from her numerous encounters with rough elements of the old west, including Billy the Kid and his band of outlaws. She worked to bring criminals to ask forgiveness from their victims, and for the victims to give it. She prevented mob action against the accused, and prevented a lynching by facilitating reconciliation between a suspect and the man he shot.



MLA Citation

  • “Sister Rosa Maria Segale“. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 December 2015. Web. 24 October 2016. <>