Though chaste in morals and dutifully dispensing her wifely duties, Anna Maria lived more for the world than for God. However, an increasing sense of spiritual disturbance began to mingle with Anna’s frivolities and worldliness.
One day she went to the Basilica of St. Peter’s. There was a great throng. She was leaning on the arm of her husband, all radiant and decked with her prettiest necklaces. The jostling of the crowd threw her against one Father Angelo, a Servite. He had never seen the young woman before, but he heard an interior voice say:
“Notice that woman, for I wiII one day confide her to your care and you will work for her transformation. She shall sanctify herself, for I have chosen her to become a saint.”
Eventually Anna Maria made up her mind to leave her worldliness aside and to make a good confession, so she went to a neighboring church, seeking in confession the solution to her unsettled conscious. But on entering it in her turn tears overcame her, and she cries:
“Father, you have at your feet a great sinner.”
The priest wondered for a moment who the unknown might be, and then said brusquely:
“Go away; you are not one of my penitent.”
However, he consented to hear a hasty recital. Yet discovering nothing to justify her passionate outburst, he gave her absolution and curtly slammed back the slide, leaving the unfortunate woman more troubled than ever.
There followed a period of discouragement. In a soul of poorer caliber the matter might have had a tragic ending. After having savored this humiliation, Anna returned to pray in the church of St. Marcellus, where she had been married. Entering one of the confessionals in trepidation, she found herself in the presence of the curate, a religious of the Servite Order, Father Angelo Verandi. It was he who in the piazza in front of St. Peter‘s had heard the Lords voice say to him:
“Take notice of that woman …. I am calling her to sanctity.”
Now, our Lord enabled him to recognise her:
“So you have come at last my daughter,” he said. “Our Lord loves you and wants you to be wholly His”
And he told her of the message he had received before at St. Peter’s. Anna had spent three years in vain worldly triflings, and now a new life was to begin. Concerning Anna’s spiritual direction, Father Angelo needed it to undertake a task so infinitely delicate. For Anna Taigi was neither a Carmelite Nun nor a devout widow, but the young wife of Domenico, by whom she was to have seven children in a dozen years. There lay her essential duty. Everything else: penances, prayers, miracles, ecstasies, could play their part only in so far as the obligations of her state would allow. Consequently Father Angelo had to have, together with mystical learning, a robust common sense and a profound humility to guide this young mother and wife.
The first demand of the Master was purification: to that end God immediately gave Anna a keen conscience of her own weaknesses and misery. St. Catherine of Genoa describes these terrible enlightenments given by God concerning our sins by saying:
“He finds fault with everything.”
This spirit of penance dated from the moment of her confession at St. Marcellus, and was never to leave her. Upon returning home, she prostrated herself before the new little altar that she had made in her room, gave herself a pitiless scourging and beat her head severely many times on the floor till the blood came. Father Angelo soon had to check this thirst for penance and austerities and to remind her she was a wife and mother and that such extraordinary penances were not her duty—her duty must lie in the holy fulfillment of her state in life.
The ever-present difficulty was that her husband, Domenico, was no St. Joseph. The first of Anna’s miracles was to get him to consent to forgo all those luxuries in which he led the way and sought her participation. Wonderful to say, he surprisingly became resigned to the holy will of his wife.
“About a year after our marriage,” he says in his official deposition, “the Servant of God, while yet in the flower of her youth, gave up for the love of God, all the jewelry she used to wear–rings, ear-rings, necklaces, and so on, and took to wearing the plainest possible clothing. She asked my permission for this, and I gave it to her with all my heart, for I saw she was entirely given to the love of God.”
Jesus told Anna Maria that by being a simple wife and mother she was to be a sign that holiness and union with God is available to everyone. Jesus described her mission:
“I destine you to convert sinners, to console people of all sorts and conditions-priests, prelates, My very Vicar himself. All who listen to your words will be granted signs and graces at My hands. But you will also meet with false and treacherous people; you will be submitted to ridicule, scorn and calumny, but you will endure it all for love of Me.”
This frightened her.
“My God, whom are You choosing for this task? I am a creature unworthy to tread the earth.”
“I see that also. It is I who will guide you by the hand, as a lamb is led by the shepherd, to the altar of sacrifice.”
The Miracle of a Mystic Globe-Sun
Among other gifts, the most remarkable was that for a space of forty-seven years she saw a kind of sun in whose light she descried things at hand and things afar off foresaw future events, scrutinized the secrets of hearts and the most hidden and most inward impulses.
“Suddenly, then, in her humble home, Anna saw a little above her head, as it were a blazing sun crowned by a circle of thorns; two long thorns clasped it round; in the centre was the Eternal Wisdom (presumably), represented by a young woman seated in contemplation. Films of cloud dimmed the dazzling light, but an interior voice told her that the clouds would disappear according to the increasing measure of her purification. In this light she was to see, until her death, not only everything that might conduce her to perfection, but also everything that could help win others for God and allow her to help the Church militant or suffering.”
She saw the people who handled affairs, the places concerned, the opinions that each one held, the sincerity or guile of the ministers; all the back-door diplomacy of our era, and also the decrees of God for the confusion of these mighty ones. She saw the plotting and the dark gatherings of various sects; the members of these societies, their ranks, their ceremonies–all in the minutest detail and in all parts of the world–all as if it were happening in her room.
Along with receiving the extraordinary ongoing vision of the sun, Anna Maria began to be drawn into ecstasies. She could be drawn into ecstasies at pious moments, such as while receiving Holy Communion, but also while performing humble tasks such as house chores or even during meals. Her husband and children did not understand what was happening to her. Once when Anna fell into ecstasy at the table and came back to her senses he grumbled at her saying:
“How can you doze at table? You are stupefied with sleep. You must go to bed earlier.”
After the death of his wife, he suspected the true nature of things:
“I do really believe that my wife was favored with heavenly gifts. As to ecstasies, I could never discern any. I remember, however, that at night-time, as we said the Rosary, there were times when she did not answer. At table, also, it often happened that she was absent-minded, sometimes with a fork in her hand, sometimes without movement. I spoke to her and she took up again what she had left off, giving me a smile.”
Anna Maria Taigi died on the morning of June 9, 1837, after having received Viaticum and the Sacrament of the sick given by the local Parish Priest. Our Lord had promised Anna that the cholera would spare Rome until her death. She had scarcely breathed her last when the scourge broke out amidst scenes of indescribable panic.
After a few days, in spite of the cholera, the procession of pilgrims began. Ordinary folk, bishops, cardinals, elbowed one another near the humble tombstone.
Eighteen years after her death, her coffin was re-opened and her body was as if she had been buried the day before. In 1868, the coffin was again re-opened, and though the clothes had decayed, her body was still intact. When her holy remains were once again examined in 1920, they were found to be no longer incorrupt, and were at that point subject to the normal processes of decomposition. A wax covering has been placed over the face and hands, preserving her resemblance. The holy remains of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi lie in state in the Chapel of the Madonna in the basilica of San Chrysogono in Rome.
Source: “Wife, Mother and Mystic” by Albert Bessieres, S.J., translated from the French by Rev Stephen Rigby Read More Here.