St. Agostina Livia Pietrantoni was born on 27 March 1864 in an
area of Italy bordered by Rieti, Orvinio and Tivoli. She was the
second of 11 children born to farmers. She grew up with the
values of an honest, hard-working and religious family.
She worked in the fields and looked after the animals, and went to
school very irregularly. At the age of 7 she went to work with some other
children, transporting sacks of stones and sand for construction of a
road from Orvinio to Poggio Moiano. At 12 she left with other "seasonal
workers" who went to Tivoli during the winter months for the olive
harvest. She was very grown-up and wise for her age, and she took
moral and religious responsibility for her young companions.
An attractive young woman, Livia nevertheless chose Christ as her
Spouse. Some people said she was becoming a Sister to run away from
hard work. She replied, no: "I wish to choose a congregation in which
there is work both day and night". After being rejected by one
congregation, the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan
Antida Thouret let her know that she could join them.
Livia was 22 when she arrived in Rome. A few months as a
postulant and novice were enough to prove that the young
girl had the makings of a Sister of Charity, that is, of a "servant
of the poor" in the tradition of St. Vincent de Paul and St.
Joan Antida. She was given the name of Sister Agostina.
Sr. Agostina was sent to
Santo Spirito Hospital, which
after 700 years of glorious
history was referred to as
"the school of Christian
charity". Following the saints
who had preceded her,
including Charles Borromeo,
Joseph Calasanctius, John
Bosco and Camillus de Lellis,
Sr. Agostina made her
personal contribution in this
place of suffering.
The atmosphere in the hospital was hostile to religion. The Capuchin
Friars were expelled, the crucifix and all the other religious signs
were forbidden. The hospital even wanted to send the Sisters away
but they were afraid of becoming unpopular with the local people.
First in the childrens' ward
and later in the tuberculosis
ward, a place of despair and
death, Sr. Agostina showed
an extraordinary dedication
and concern for each sick
person. While working in the
tuberculosis ward, Sister
contracted the disease. She
received Viaticum and then
The ward held some
unruly men, some of
them convicts. They
sputtered vulgarities. She
never failed to be patient
and cheerful, even with
the most violent one,
How many times she offered
Romanelli to Our Lady! He was
the worst of them all, the most
vulgar and insolent, especially
towards Sr. Agostina. Eventually
the director expelled him from
the hospital, because he kept
provoking the women working
in the laundry. He wanted to
blame someone and poor Sr.
Agostina was the victim. "I will
kill you with my own hands. Sr.
Agostina, you only have a
month to live!", were the threats
he sent to her in little notes.
Romanelli was not joking. He caught her unawares on 13
November 1894 and cruelly stabbed her before she could
escape. her lips uttered nothing but invocations to the Virgin
Mary and words of forgiveness.
Based on Saint Agostina Pietrantoni on vatican.va