Augustinian Servant of God
Teresa Spinelli (1789-1850), after living in a disastrous marriage and giving birth to a child, opened one of the first public schools that accepted girls, and went on to found a religious community with the school's teachers as its first members.
Teresa Spinelli was born in Rome in 1789. Her family was of modest means. Out of financial need, her parents arranged a marriage for her with a tax collector who was involved in a revolutionary movement.
This marriage was a time of great suffering, as her husband mistreated Teresa continually. After a few months, the marriage was annulled. Shortly afterwards, Teresa gave birth to a daughter.
Because her family continued to experience financial difficulties, Teresa placed her daughter in the care of her parents and went to work as a governess for a wealthy family. With the consent of her employers, Teresa dedicated much time to performing works of charity.
When her parents grew old and needed her help, Teresa felt obliged to go and care for them. It was at this time that she made a vow to always choose what was more perfect and consecrated herself as a victim for sinners.
Following the death of her mother, Teresa decided to give herself over to the education of children. She went to Frosinone, where young girls were in particular need. Among other things, there was no school that would educate girls.
Together with several other mothers, she overcame great difficulties to open the first public school in the area that accepted girls as students. This school had a profoundly Christian foundation and sought to educate with love and respect toward its pupils.
After a few years, in 1827, Teresa, with the approval of the local Bishop, formed a religious congregation, with the school's teachers as its initial members. Its name was: Augustinian Sisters, Servants of Jesus and Mary. Four years later, this new congregation was formally incorporated into the Order of Saint Augustine.
Teresa continued to look after the needs of her daughter, who had become mentally ill. The daughter was welcomed into the convent, where she lived until her death.
Teresa died January 22, 1850 in Frosinone. She was buried in the public cemetery there. In 2000, her body was moved to the motherhouse of the Augustinian Sisters, Servants of Jesus and Mary in Frosinone.
The cause for her beatification and canonization began in 1982. The diocesan investigation was concluded in 1997. The Congregation of Saints recognized the validity of her cause in 1998. Josef Sciberras, O.S.A., the Augustinian Postulator of Causes, oversees the progress of the cause.