The birthday of Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora, mother of several daughters and Trinitarian tertiary, was commemorated just a few days ago. She is an extraordinary figure, who endured everything to convert her dissolute husband, support their daughters and provide relief to needy families.
"Such a mother can‘t be found in the world. And I am not worthy to be her husband." This is how the husband of Elizabeth Canori Mora—blessed since 1994—spoke before their daughters about the wife on whom he inflicted so much suffering during her life.
This is an exemplary story that, just after Elizabeth‘s birthday—she was on 21 November 1774—, can be helpful to spouses of today, in face of the many problems that they encounter every day. Elizabeth Canori was born in Rome, in a wealthy aristocratic and deeply Catholic family. At 22, she married a young lawyer, Thomas Mora, apparently an excellent choice: he was cultured, educated, religious, and well-established in his career. However, the initial happiness that the young couple enjoyed after their wedding was soon destroyed by the psychological and emotional fragility of her husband, who secretly carried on a relationship with a woman of low condition, squandering the family fortune with her and so reducing his loved ones to poverty. Yet, he does not abandon his wife or daughters; after being away from family all day, he usually comes home only late at night, wrecked by his disordered life. Elizabeth, then, opts for total fidelity to her husband and their two daughters, and she continues doing her own work with the utmost care. She draws her strength from an intense prayer life, her faithful membership in the Trinitarian Third Order, and the conviction that the sacrament of marriage has truly tied her, in a precious and indissoluble way, to the person of her husband. In fact, Elizabeth knows that the fidelity to her husband, even if undeserved, was due to Jesus; and she fully honors the sacrament they have received, although, totally neglected by Thomas, painfully and alone. Yet, this is how she enters into an increasingly intimate and familiar, mystical and joyful relationship with Jesus, which is reflected in an infinite charity, full of prodigies of love, practiced through help given to needy families and the tireless education of their daughters. Her mystical visions, together with prophecies concerning the Church, are contained in her voluminous diary. In this important and valuable document, the blessed woman reveals, in variegated and dramatic pages, the religious and ethical disorder of people today. Thomas, long troubled by the holiness of his wife, at first even scoffed at her for her devotion to their relationship—that according to him is totally free—, until, more and more impressed by the love given without any reciprocity, at the death of Elizabeth, he converts, becoming first a Conventual Franciscan convent and then a priest—thus fully realizing the prophecies about his conversion made long before by his wife. In 1994—the International Year of the Family— John Paul II beatified Elizabeth Canori Mora and Gianna Beretta Molla together, calling them "women of heroic love." Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora died on February 5th, 1825 (her feast day) and is now buried in the church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, where her personal souvenirs are preserved in the sacristy.