Feb. 4 is the Feast Day of Saint Maria De Mattias — the founder of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC).
According to the history of ASC, “Maria De Mattias was proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s in Rome on May 18, 2003.”
Feast Days find their beginning in the first century of Christianity, starting with Easter and Pentecost. Since then, Feast Days, according to Catholic Answers, “are celebrated in commemoration of the sacred mysteries and events recorded in the history of our redemption, in memory of the Virgin Mother of Christ, or of His apostles, martyrs, and saints, by special services and rest from work.”
Normally a saint’s Feast Day is on the day the saint died. In the case of St. Maria De Mattias, she died on Aug. 20, but the Adorers had already come to celebrate her life on her birthday and baptism, which is Feb. 4. Interestingly, John Henry Cardinal Newman was born and died in the same month as St. Maria De Mattias and, like hers, his Feast Day is not on the day of his death. Cardinal Newman’s Feast Day is Oct. 9, which is the day he converted to Catholicism.
Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, director of mission effectiveness at Newman, commented on why St. Maria De Mattias' Feast Day is out of the ordinary.
“Once in a while you can request a certain date from the group who decides the Feast Day. A majority of the Adorers felt the Feast Day would be proper to have it on the day they traditionally celebrated her life," explained Rohrbach.
During the Mass, certain readings commemorate the Feast Day of the particular saint. These readings are optional. Since this year the Feast of St. Maria De Mattias fell on a Sunday, the readings could not be read, so on Monday a small celebration was held.
Since St. John’s Chapel was the chapel of the first Adorers of Sacred Heart College, the tradition to celebrate the Feast Day in that chapel is carried on today. Inside of the chapel there is a statue and painting of St. Maria De Mattias.
Celebration of the Feast Day also kicks off the annual Heritage Month at Newman, which lasts until March 4 — the anniversary of the founding of the Adorers.
Rohrbach said, “It’s nice to be able to start Heritage Month honoring St. Maria, who founded the order of the Adorers.”
The Feast Day for St. Maria De Mattias is not only celebrated at Newman University. For ASC sisters around the world, and in and around St. Maria De Mattias' hometown of Vallecorsa, Italy, the Feast Day is a major celebration of her life and the legacy she left that lives on today.
“Be cheerful and keep your heart in peace about all things.” — St. Maria De Mattias