The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Elizabeth Canori Mora

portrait of Blessed Elisabetta Canori Mora, artist unknown, c.1855; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Venerable Elizabeth Canori Mora merited the crown of the saints by patient endurance of a heavy family cross. She was born of a distinguished family at Rome on November 21, 1794, and was educated by the Augustinian nuns at Cascia. Here she made a vow of chastity and conceived the desire of becoming a nun. But after a few years she quite forgot her vow and at the age of twenty-one married the advocate Christopher Mora. It proved an unhappy marriage. Her husband led a disorderly life. His first love of his wife degenerated into jealousy, then into coldness, and finally into hatred. Elizabeth did everything to win back his heart but in vain. He contracted debt after debt and became completely ensnared by a bad woman. Relatives bitterly reproached Elizabeth, as if she was the cause of the sins of her husband. These trials, however, served only to withdraw her heart from the lures of the world. She found no help or consolation from man, but God was all the more liberal in giving her strength to bear her heavy cross with patience.

It was now that Elizabeth remembered her forgotten vow, and the thought was for her a new inducement to bind herself intimately to God. Though it was merely youthful forgetfulness that was to blame, she bewailed her failure to keep her promise during her whole life.

Since her husband paid no heed to their children she sedulously applied herself to bring them up in the fear of God. In course of time they, too, were to bring much trouble upon her. In vain she courageously strove to avert from their home the bankruptcy threatened by the reckless life of her husband; but fortunately his parents were still living and saved her from extreme want. They urged the conscienceless advocate to make the Spiritual Exercises. This only rendered him more bitter and he maltreated his poor wife in such a way that even her life was in danger. Her confessor advised Elizabeth to apply for an ecclesiastical separation; but in kindness to the man and her children she would not consent to such a step. At the death of her father-in-law she was excluded from sharing in the inheritance on the plea that her husband had already squandered his portion. But God did not desert His servant and there were compassionate souls to befriend her.

Elizabeth, led by an enlightened zeal, had made great strides toward perfection in the school of suffering. As a valiant woman she persevered at the side of her wicked husband, who repaid her unbroken love and friendship with scoff and maltreatment.

God sends His saints nothing more plentifully than suffering. Besides her family misery, Elizabeth had to bear many interior trials, attacks from the evil spirit, and illness in body. But God also gave her many extraordinary graces and enlightenments. Others highly esteemed her and depended much on her counsel. Herself so sorely tried, she knew how to console and encourage them. She obtained many great favors by her prayers. Her sufferings she offered up constantly and magnanimously for the triumph of the cause of Christ. Her biographer relates among many miracles of her lifetime that when she was seriously ill the Holy Eucharist was administered to her by angels. The servant of God departed this life on 5 February 1825, to receive the reward of her heroic bearing of the cross.

After her death she at last effected the conversion of her husband, appearing to him and urging him to do penance. He afterward entered the Franciscan Order and led a life of severe penance until his death.

Families from whom peace has departed are unfortunately very numerous in these days. The life of the Venerable Elizabeth Mora shows that even in such misery the Church can lead us to lofty sanctity and bestow true peace on our hearts.

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Elizabeth Canori Mora”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 18 September 2018. Web. 18 November 2018. <>