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Maria Crescentia Hoss

(1682—1744)


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Franciscan tertiary (1682–1744).

Born at Kaufbeuren (Bavaria) of a poverty-stricken family of wool-weavers, she wished to become a nun from an early age, but the local Franciscan convent was so poor that they could not accept her without a dowry. The problem was overcome in an unusual way when in 1703 the Protestant mayor of the town, impressed by her fine character, offered the nuns a deal by which if they accepted her as a novice, he would rid them of a noisy neighbouring inn which irked them.

Crescentia was treated incredibly cruelly and unjustly by the superior and sisters. They would not let her forget that she had no dowry; she was obliged to sleep on the floor of other nuns' cells; when eventually she was given one of her own, it was small and damp. She was allotted only menial tasks until a new superior was appointed in 1707. Now Crescentia was accepted as a full and normal member of the community. She was appointed as door-keeper, which enabled her for a period of sixteen years to help the poor in many ways. Then she became novice-mistress and in 1726 Mother Superior. In this office she was very gentle towards the other nuns, but also insisted on postulants being properly tested.

From early years she had experienced visions and ecstasies and every Friday from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m. (like certain other mystics) experienced some kind of special sharing in the Passion of Christ. She was sometimes unconscious in this experience, but there does not seem to be record of the stigmata being received. She became known for her wisdom and was consulted by many people outside her convent. She insisted on the need to accept patiently adversities sent by God or by one's neighbours. Such acceptance she had practised heroically long before she recommended it to others. Her tomb became a place of pilgrimage; she was beatified in 1900 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Feast: 5 April.

Bibl. SS., vii. 601–3; B.L.S., iv. 35.

Subjects: Christianity.


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