(FSML) On 13 October 2021, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Eminence Most Reverend Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the Congregation to promulgate the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Mother Elisa Martinez, Foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca; born on 25 March 1905 in Galatina (Italy) and died on 8 February 1991 in Rome (Italy)

The Servant of God Elisa Martinez was born in Galatina (Lecce, Italy) on March 25, 1905. After receiving her master’s degree, in Lecce, she met the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, founded in Angers (France) by Santa Maria di Sant’Eufrasia Pelletier in the first half of the nineteenth century and, in 1928, she was admitted to the novitiate. On 29 September 1930 she made her first profession and was sent to Chieti to serve at the Institute dedicated to the re-education of girls. In 1932, due to a serious lung infection, she was forced to leave the Congregation and return to her family, without thereby interrupting friendly relations with her former sisters.

Gradually she developed the idea of ​​founding a new religious congregation committed to the formation of adolescents, early childhood education, assistance to single mothers and parish service. She received the approval of the Bishop of Ugento, Mons. Giuseppe Ruotolo, starting the Pious Union of the Immaculate Sisters. In 1941 the same Bishop erected the Pious Union in the Institute of Diocesan Law of the “Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca”, in honor of the Marian shrine present in the diocese. Two years later, the Institute became of Pontifical Right.

The Servant of God she founded numerous communities in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and the United States and, in 1946, she moved the headquarters of the generalate and novitiate to Rome. In over 40 years Mother Elizabeth, despite her fragile health, undertook numerous and long journeys to extend the Congregation to different parts of the world, reaching as far as Australia, India and the Philippines. There was no lack of suffering, persecution, slander, both on the part of strangers and on the part of some sisters, who were in the United States. The Servant of God did not allow herself to be discouraged by placing all her trust in the hands of Divine Providence, continuing her industrious service.

The Venerable Servant of God Pius XII and Saints John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II encouraged her to continue her charitable work.

In 1965 she was not re-elected as Superior General, but she accepted everything with humility while maintaining an edifying demeanor. In the years that followed, new homes and new charitable services were built. In 1969, the Apostolic Visit of Fr. Mario Piazzano, O.S.I. took place, who in his detailed report defended the work of the Servant of God from the slander of some of the sisters.

In the General Chapter of 1970 she was unanimously re-elected Superior General, a position she renounced in 1987 for health reasons.

She died in Rome (Italy) on February 8, 1991.

The Servant of God nourished her faith with her with long moments spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament, despite the exhausting journeys in which she was always busy. Her faith also gave her the strength to face and overcome the numerous trials that studded her life. She was capable of authentic abandonment to God’s hands and of great trust in Divine Providence. She lived in the presence of God and this was reflected in everything she did.

Her only concern was to adhere to God’s will and trust Him. Her heroic hope took the form of the ability to wait, without complaining and without breaking down, trusting in the Lord’s timing to carry out her plans.

She lived constantly in dedication to others, taking charge of all the needs she saw around her, never making any distinction between people. Pushed by heroic charity, she did not hesitate to face the hardships and risks to found works in all parts of the world. Also towards her sisters she always showed great charity, especially towards the sick. In particular, her heroic charity was evident towards those daughters of hers who accused and slandered her, never expressing judgments of condemnation or revenge towards them, but she forgave them by accompanying them with prayer. .