Sr. M. Fulgenzia Rapagnani
In one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Montecosaro, in the province of Macerata, on October 30, 1910, Argentina Rapagnani was born. She was welcomed with joy by her father Luigi, and her mother Santina Capponi.
On the 1st of November, the feast of All Saints, she was baptized and on the 17th of October 1919, she was confirmed by Msgr. Carlo Castelli, Archbishop of Fermo.
We do not know much news about her family. They experienced the grief of the mother’s death, and after some years, her father remarried. Sr. M. Fulgenzia, with thoughtful reflection, spoke of a dignified family who lived in serene poverty. They were very united and firm in their faith.
Over 600 km separated Montecosaro from Alba. In those days, the means of communication and transport were slow, but the work of Father Alberione reached every parish of the peninsula through the Magazines Vita Pastorale, Unione Cooperatori Buona Stampa, and La Domenica. In these productions, there was always space for a “calling card” inviting boys and girls to become a vibrant part of this adventure of the Pauline Family.
The parish priest of Montecosaro, Archpriest Giovanni Torresi, had his eye on the newly formed Pious Society of the Daughters of St. Paul and on the second group: the Pious Disciples. They were presented as those who “consecrate themselves to the adoration of the Divine Master-Eucharistic, so that all people gather around Jesus to learn to follow his divine teachings and holy examples. In this second group were those who preferred to love the adoration of Jesus Host. They were to be withdrawn from the world, dedicated to the reparation of the sins of the press, which renews the Passion of Jesus”.
He talked about it with some young women and with especially with the young Argentina. He often saw her before the Tabernacle. He supported her request to be accepted into the young Congregation. On February 28, 1932, Argentina arrived in Alba, where she met Mother M. Scolastica Rivata and Sr. M. Antonietta Marello, formator of the young women. They welcomed her with joy but soon noticed that, by human standards, she had very little education. She was able to read a little but was not able to write. She had no special gifts or intelligence and they thought to send her home.
Before doing so, however, they submitted her situation to the theologian, Fr Alberione who, after a few moments of silence, said: “This young woman has the wisdom of the heart. Put her forward and you, Scholastica, will teach her to learn what she does not know.”
Remembering this experience, Sr. M. Fulgenzia wrote: “I was quiet, and yet I was sure that I was called by God. Before deciding, before Jesus, and after my communion, I made this covenant with Jesus: to be faithful unto death, I with Jesus and He with me, otherwise he would not let me leave home. I knew nothing about religious life, I left my home with true love in my heart for Jesus. When I arrived and they told me I wasn’t made for our congregation, I did not want to go home so as not to betray Jesus and the promise I had made. If God has called me, he will give me the graces to go forward. I went ahead … I gave myself to Jesus and I wanted to be one in heart with the Divine Master under the guidance of my Mothers” (To Mother M. Lucia Ricci, 1965).
On 25th January 1933 she wore the blue and white habit, taking the name of Fulgenzia. After the
Novitiate, guided by Mother Scholastica, on 20th August 1934, she made her first profession. In 1940 she professed her perpetual vows which were accepted by Don Alberione: “I am very happy that she is admitted to the perpetual vows: I bless …”.
That “wisdom of the heart”, with some gifts that cannot be defined humanly speaking, were the fabric of her daily life of love for Jesus and his service. In the Pauline city of Alba, for over 30 years she was busy in the bread making department and in other simple services. When this baking – bread began, some sisters recalled that one of her usual expressions was: “Jesus is here with us to knead and prepare bread …”, and when we baked and filled the baskets she said: “Jesus puts this bread into our hands to feed the Pauline crowds!”. One sister said: “every so often, looking at the silent and bright smile of Sr. Fulgenzia I had the impression of the multiplication of loaves …”.
In silence and in humble service, an intense and intimate form of communion with God and neighbor matured in her. This is the holiness that becomes the fullness of a radiant apostolic activity. Despite her basic and poor cultural preparation, she received profound intuitions from the Lord. This was the fruit of her inner life, a singular gift of a mission entrusted to her from on high. It was a special hidden gift.
During the period between 1946-47, a mysterious and significant in the history of the Pious Disciples, we were almost suppressed by the ecclesiastical authority. Only Blessed James Alberione and Blessed Timothy Giaccardo were aware of what was revealed to Sr. M. Fulgenzia. She received insights regarding the conviction that this trial must be endured until the tomb and then it will open to the light of the resurrection. 
In the last years of her life, speaking with Mother M. Lucia Ricci, Superior General, she revealed some wonders of the divine communications. They were always for the good of those persons who were brought to the Lord. For example, on November 26th, 1974, regarding priests, she spoke of an experience that has accompanied her since the novitiate:
“… the Lord showed me all the priests together and divided them into three parts: a part was of all the zealous priests to help the Lord bring souls to Him. Another group, priests who live only for themselves, they were not bad, but for the Lord they did little. Another group, very bad, who went against everyone. In fact, they are even against the Church. We must pray for the Priesthood as it says in the Constitutions.”
Sr. M. Fulgenzia experienced the gradual weakening of her vision until she was almost blind. At this time, she had the desire
“… to see in all people the face of Jesus, to have a charity enlightened by God for the good of our brothers and sisters. to see before the way of faith. All for the Glory of God and the peace of all, good and evil …”, to be light, our hearts must be united to the Heart of Jesus and we mut love our neighbor as God wills” (1979).
She died in Sanfrè on March 27th1979, going to meet the Bridegroom almost on tiptoe, after a day of work and self-giving.
In his homily, Fr Eugenio Fornasari SSP, the “theologian of the saints”, who knew Sr. M. Fulgenzia well, with some brushstrokes cast light on the mystery of love in her life:
“Her life offers a filigree reading that highlights the Gospel lesson of Jesus: ‘I thank you, O Father, because you have hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to the little ones’. The little ones, in the language of the Gospel, are also the poor before God – the poor of Yahweh, to whom the Kingdom is given. Sr. Maria Fulgenzia was a little soul: The little way of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus; her life was a “praise of glory” in the sense of Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity. She lived an authentic life as did Bernadette Soubirous. She lived the charism of Don Alberione.” And emphasizing how Don Alberione gave the guidelines to reach the fullness of maturity, that is, the fullness of Christ, he concluded: “She lived the fullness of life. Sr. Maria Fulgenzia knew this fullness and fullness of interiority. She had interior locutions and the prayer of simplicity. She was gathered into the arms of God.”
There are many people who have recourse to the intercession of Sr. M. Fulgenzia, and not only to find parking or to carry out their duties, but above all for conversion of heart by living the way of the Gospel, for peace in families, for love of neighbor, for work, for study. It is important, that when asking for her intercession you pray, you turn your gaze heavenwards, doing as she said when a nursing sister was anxious about finding a parking space: “do not worry, let’s say a Glory to the Father, let’s invoke the Guardian Angel and you will see that they keep it in mind”.
These brief notes are the starting point for a wider reflection to discover the steps of Sr. M. Fulgenzia’s ascent to the mountain of God, a path marked by the crimson thread of love for Jesus and neighbor, nourished by the Eucharist and trust in Mary, always enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Sr. M. Fulgenzia, without academic qualifications, is a teacher and spiritual guide, with the book of her life: “I am happy to have chosen this path, the more I go on and the better I understand religious life, the more I like to be with Jesus, I know little, but Jesus understands me immediately”.
 Reference to the Pauline complex of Piazza S. Paolo in Alba where, even after the transfer of the Daughters of St. Paul to Borgo Piave, over 500 people lived.
 Cf R. Cesarato – G.M.J. Oberto, The tree seen from the Roots, 2, manuscript use, Rome 2000, pp. 113–203.