(Pagani, Italy) Maria Cristina of Savoy (1812-1836), on the day after her marriage to King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, celebrated on November 21, 1832, in the sanctuary of Our Lady of Acquasanta in Genoa, wished to donate one of her most precious wedding garments to the Redemptorist Fathers of Pagani, so that it might adorn the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary (known as St Alphonsus’), housed in one of the side chapels of the Basilica.
Very devoted to Blessed Alphonsus, she gave over 30,000 ducats every year as alms and never missed an opportunity to benefit the Congregation. She died on January 31 1836, a few days after giving birth to the heir to the throne, Francis. Fr Giovan Camillo Ripoli, then Rector Major, in a circular letter sent to all the Redemptorist colleges, wrote for the occasion: “She died with the death of the Righteous, and we hope that she will stay in Heaven to enjoy the reward of her very rare virtues”.
Maria Cristina was beatified on January 25 2014.
The wedding dress, made up of eight pieces, all woven with threads of pure gold, is kept today in the college of Pagani. Unfortunately, time is gradually deteriorating the fabric, and it is therefore essential to intervene as soon as possible to avoid losing a treasure of inestimable historical and religious value that has been lovingly preserved for almost two centuries.
Fr. Antonio Pupo, C.Ss.R.