Blessed Sr. Irene Stefani
I will love charity more than myself
Sister Irene was born at Anfo, Brescia (Italy) on August 22nd, 1891. At the age of 20, attracted by the Missionary Ideal and feeling called by the Lord whom she loved intensely, she joined the Consolata Sisters’ Institute at Turin that had been founded by the Blessed Joseph Allamano. Having taken the first vows on January 29th, 1914, Sr. Irene soon received the “Mandate” for the Mission of Kenya, which she reached in January the following year.
During the First World War (1915-1918), Sr. Irene became very soon the “angel of charity,” as a medical colonel called her in the military hospitals in Kenya and Tanzania. Later she was giving herself unsparingly in the Mission of Gikondi (1920- 1930) and the people were calling her with the nickname “Nyaatha” meaning ‘Merciful Mother.’
Those who remember her springing figure attribute her motivation to love. In October 1930, Sr. Irene offered to God her life for the Mission.
Her mortal remains rest in the church of Our Lady Consolata at Nyeri in Kenya.
In the 1984 the Beatification cause was introduced in the Church of Nyeri, Kenya and in the one of Turin, Italy. On April 2nd, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the issue of the Decree on her “Heroic Virtues” and Sister Irene was proclaimed Venerable.
The miracle attributed to the intercession of Sr. Irene Stefani, which opened the way to the Beatification Process, was one of multiplication of water in the Baptismal fount of the Parish of Nipepe (Diocese of Lichinga , Niassa, Mozambique); water was used for four days by about 270 persons sheltered there to escape the violence of the civil war.
The documentation was collected in the ecclesiastical process that was carried on from July 18th to the 26th, 2010, in Mozambique. In the various step required for the approval of the miracle, no negative opinions nor doubts were presented in the consideration of validity of the miracle of Nipepe. Rather, everyone agreed that “there (was) no natural, credible explanation of the multiplication of the water, so it was to be attributed to a supernatural intervention.”
The process of the inquiry was concluded with the final approval of the Pope Francis who, on June 12th 2014, put his signature to the Decree of the Beatification of Sister Irene Stefani.
Sr. Irene Stefani Brochure
Sr. Irene lived charity as described by St. Paul and has translated the hymn of Charity through expressions that incarnate the Gospel.
“The Missionary is the one who has a heart for loving, the hands for helping, the mouth for announcing,” and she concluded: “This is all!”
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not boast.
“To sow joy and happiness without expecting praises.”
“Charity of sacrifice, patience, self will’s denial, being able to keep silent, to humble and control oneself .”
Love does not lack respect. Love does not seek his own interest.
“With the help of Mary Most Holy, I will love Charity more than myself . When one loves really, one does not feel fatigue and everything becomes possible.”
Love will never end.
“To love, to love everyone, to love with God,
like God, in God,
The sacrifice of her life
On the 14th September 1930 Sr. Irene goes to Nyeri where she attends her annual retreat. She looks back on her life and Jesus lets her hear some special words:
“Sin crucifies Jesus again. Better a thousand deaths than a single sin”.
“Forget everything… Empty yourself ”
“Missionary = apostle and martyr”.
At Gikondi there is an epidemic of plagues, and she gets sick very soon. On the Sunday 26th October, 1930, the feast of Christ the King, Sr. Irene leads the prayers at mass, but feels shivers all over the body. She has to go to bed, feels that little time remains for her. Some women come to visit her; as they cry, seeing how sick she is, she comforts them saying:
“Do not cry, I am going to heaven!”
Sr. Margherita Maria Durando is at her bedside during the night and suggests her new prayer: “Heart of Jesus, victim of charity, makes me a pure, holy host, acceptable to God.”
She repeats it many times…
The next day Sister Irene dies, repeating the names of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. It is the 31st October 1930.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of Blessed Irene Stefani. We pray that her Beatification may urge us to imitate her in commitment to holiness and to Jesus totally and completely. Let her charity and her heroic missionary life increase in us the fervent desire of announcing and witnessing the Gospel for the coming of your Kingdom, at the service of the Church and of the mission. May Blessed Irene, angel of charity, help us to love You above all things, in taking care of the weak, the sick, the marginalized, and those far away. May she inspire us to spread the perfume of your love and happiness. May Mother Mary Consolata guide us in bringing consolation and fullness of life always and everywhere. Amen.
For his sick people and all the inhabitants of Gikondi, who always saw her coming with a smile on her lips, open to help and love everyone, Sister Irene is “Nyaatha”, which means “Mother of mercy”. And another one testifies: “We have believed her word because we have touched her love”.
One former student of Sr. Irene, when she talked of her death, dares to say: “Sr. Irene has not been killed by an illness; it is love that killed her!”
The boots of glory
The “boots of glory” are somehow the symbol of the interminable walks and runs sister Irene did in her life to reach and help the peole she wanted to save; those dusty boots, worn by her walking, remain as a witness of the kilometers she covered under any kind of weather, at any time of the day or night. Tireless evangelizer, Sister Irene did not miss a single
chance to meet and help a person.