Saint of the Month for May is Blessed Irene Stefani

001maysaintAurelia Mercede Stefani was born in 1891 in a small village in Northern Italy. She was the fifth of eleven children. Her mother died young so she took care of her younger brothers and sisters and worked avidly with the youth at her parish. When she was twenty years old, she joined the Consolata Missionary Sisters in 1911 and she was trained in religious life as well as a nurse. In 1914, she took her vows as a sister and soon after was sent to Kenya. After a long and exhausting journey by ship, she arrived in Mombasa on January 1915. World War I had already begun and because of her training in nursing, the British asked her to take care of the soldiers and Courier Corps who were wounded in the war both in Mombasa and Tanzania. As the war was ending she was able to join the Consolata missionaries to serve the people as a nurse. She worked there for 10 years. She gave herself, body and soul as a nurse giving healthcare, caring for the sick. It is said that many were the times that she spent the whole day without eating in order to serve many patients. Because of this loving service and total dedication, the people of that area nicknamed her as “Nyaatha” which is a name translated as “a person of mercy”. There was an epidemic of plague and Sr. Irene got sick soon after arriving in that area. She contracted the disease as she was treating one of the patients even after being warned by other sisters not to attend to the patient because she could be affected. Out of love, faith, dedication, prayer and full obedience to God, she identified herself with the sick, the hopeless and the dying. She died in 1930 when she was only 39 years old. She was declared a Servant of God and later blessed by Pope Francis.