(FSML) Galatina, 4 May 2018 – San Biagio Church: Monsignor Gaetano Pollio Room.
Conference for the inauguration of the street headed to the Galatinese Servant of God
Mother Elisa Martinez, Foundress of the Sisters “Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca”
Intervention by Mons. Sabino Amedeo Lattanzio, Postulator of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Mother Martinez.
I greet the Mayor of this splendid city of Galatina, Dr. Lover Marcello Pasquale and, in his person, the entire Municipal Administration, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Otranto, Msgr. Donato Negro represented here by the archpriest Msgr. Aldo Santoro and some of his priests. I thank the Mother General of the Religious Congregation of the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca, Sister Ilaria Nicolardi, for inviting me for this occasion in which the Municipality of Galatina wanted to name a street after the illustrious fellow citizen and Foundress of the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca, the Servant of God Mother Elisa Martinez.
Galatina, according to a solid oral tradition, is marked by the memory of the passage of the apostle St. Peter during his journey from Antioch to Rome. But we cannot fail to remember the eight hundred Santi Idruntini who in the nearby Otranto in 1480 testified their fidelity to Christ with their blood. Therefore this blessed land boasts not only very ancient origins of Christian life, but also of glorious history which still does not cease to produce genuine fruits of holiness.
Among these stands the Servant of God Elisa Martinez, whose Diocesan Phase of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization, introduced on November 17 of the previous year, ended on November 12, 2017.
Mother Elisa, born Elisa Maria Annunziata Antonia Giuseppa Martinez, eldest of eight brothers, was born in Galatina on 25 March 1905 in the family palace located in Piazza Giuseppe Lillo. She was baptized in the parish of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on the following April 16.
Her father Giacomo, coming from a family of professionals, graduated in Law, was stationmaster in Lecce. Her mother, Rizzelli Francesca, for all “Donna Chicchi”, came from a family of noble lineage.
From her parents Elisa inherited sound moral and religious principles, openness of mind and a spirit of enterprise. As was the custom of many southern middle-class families, the Martinez family, from spring until early autumn, moved to the countryside in the “Padùli”, on the road that leads from Noha to Collepasso where they owned a farm.
Growing more and more the desire to follow the Lord in the way of consecration, Elisa felt the need to participate daily in the Holy Mass and to receive Holy Communion. While she lived in the countryside, she got up at the first light of dawn and, on foot or by gig, she reached nearby Collepasso. Her father, who had great worldly plans for her, noticing this strong religious inclination of her daughter, to distract her, organized continuous feasts. But she did not feel any attraction and, after a brief courtesy stop among the guests, she respectfully greeted those present to retire in prayer in the chapel inside the farm. In the end, her father, very respectful of the freedom of others, surrendered, leaving his daughter free to realize her ideal of total consecration to the Lord. Having met the French Congregation of the “Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd” in Lecce, in 1928 Elisa left for Angers in France for the novitiate. After a short period of religious life, she was forced to return to her family for health reasons, but without ever losing sight of the ideal of consecration. In fact, in 1932 you thought of starting a new form of religious life that will materialize in 1938 in Miggiano with the “Pious Union of the Immaculate Conception” that the bishop of Ugento, Msgr. Giuseppe Ruotolo, in 1941 erected the Institute of Diocesan Law, suggesting its name in “Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca”, whose charisma is to devote himself to the service of children, the education of girls, in favor of the parish apostolate and advantage of the least and the suffering.
According to the trial testimonies, Mother Elisa has always been characterized by her love for childhood and the defenseless “it was a trait of her character. Already as a teenager, in the countryside, she gathered the children around her; she entertained them with games and taught them to pray ”. This characteristic – especially the transport towards childhood – was increased by attending the studies of the master’s.
This little-big woman, following the example of Mary Most Holy, emptied herself completely to let herself be filled by the Lord, becoming a humble instrument in His hands so that His Kingdom and His boundless and limitless charity could contribute to spreading up to the ends of the Earth, for the benefit of many brothers and sisters.
Despite her fragile health, with great missionary enthusiasm and constant and generous commitment, personally and through her daughters, she extended her charity to various parts of Italy and the world, establishing very efficient works.
Although marked by the seal of the Cross, Mother Martinez never pulled back, convinced that the Lord had chosen her for this great task: to prolong her work of salvation and redemption in the midst of the most needy and rejected brothers.
How beautiful it is to see that the hidden light of the dearest Mother is about to shine on the candlestick of the Church to enlighten not only her sisters but also many brothers and sisters in the faith who, thanks to her testimony, consequently receive the same Light from her. Divine!
Today Galatina feels proud to have generated such a great daughter! For this reason, the heading of a street is meant to be a gesture of gratitude towards her, because the Galatinese Servant of God, with her luminous testimony, helps to keep the name of this city high outside the territory.
But this certificate of affection, in order not to remain only a boast, becomes for his fellow citizens above all a spur to follow in his footsteps of charity in a social context that tends to close us in short-sighted individualistic and selfish interests, devoid of the supernatural dimension.