Blessed Clelia Merloni

Blessed Clelia MerloniMemorial


The daughter of Gioacchino Merloni, a wealthy and influential industrialist, and Teresa Brandinelli; Clelia was baptized in the diocesan cathedral of Santa Croce in Forli, Italy when she was only a few hours old. Her mother died in 1864 when Clelia was only 3 years old; her maternal grandmother and her step-mother, Maria Giovanna Boeri who married Gioacchino in 1866, raised her to be a pious girl with a good education. Her father became so involved in succeeding in business that he became openly hostile to religion in general, joined the Freemasons, and became specifically antiCatholic. He planned to have Clelia follow him into business, but she was drawn to religious life which led to family strife as he blamed the women in the family for turning Clelia against him. Clelia responded by praying for him and doing penance in reparation of her father‘s actions. He was reconciled to the faith before his death in 1885.

Freed from her family obligations, Clelia joined the Figlie di Santa Maria della Divina Provvidenza (Daughters of Holy Mary of the Divine Providence). In religious life, she felt a calling to start a congregation devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and eventually founded the Apostole del Sacro Cuore di Gesù (Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) in Viareggio, Italy on 30 May 1894. Internal disputes, including corruption and theft by Clelia’s finance administrator, led to her leaving the order in 1896; the adminstrator was a priest, and Clelia refused to bring in civil authorities for fear of causing scandal and stirring up antiCatholic sentiment. But on 10 June 1900, with the approval and support of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, bishop of Piacenza, Italy, she returned to religious life, was accepted back into the Apostles, and helped set them up on their new work as missionaries to Brazil. Following the loss of support caused by the death of bishop Scalabrini in 1905, the internal strife in the Apostles erupted again, support of Clelia declined, and in 1911 she was replaced as Superior General by the Vatican. Clelia withdrew from public life, and in 1916 received dispensation to be released from her religious vows. However, late in life she requested to re-enter religious life, and on 7 March 1928 became a simple sister in the Apostles.

The Apostles, whose motto is “The Love of Christ Impels Us”, continue their good work today with 1,200 sisters based in 195 houses in Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, the United States, Mozambique, Benin, Albania, Taiwan and the Philippines, focusing primarily on education.






Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Clelia Merloni“. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 December 2019. Web. 18 June 2021. <>