Blessed Maria Teresa Scrilli

Blessed Maria Teresa Scrilli ( 1825-1889 )
Foundress of the Institute of Our Lady of Carmel

         Maria Scrilli was born in Montevarchi, Italy, on 15th May 1825 and only few hours later is taken to the Holy Font to receive Baptism. For her education, her parents entrusted her to private tutors who had a positive influence on her open and cheerful character and so contributed to her personal growth.

When still a young girl, by her reading of the lives of the Saints, she becomes acquainted with St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi and also with Carmelite spirituality. Struck with admiration for the Saint, she conceives a great veneration for her. Having then felt the call to consecrate herself completely to God, she entered to the monastery in Florence where the Saint lived. Marie Teresa, however, was to stay only for a few weeks because, prompted by divine inspiration, she felt the Lordwanted her to live in the world "to lead souls to him". Before returning to Montevarchi, she enrolled in the Carmelite Third Order with the name Maria Teresa di Gesu' (Mary Teresa Of Jesus).

Her acquaintance with the life of St. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi, the fact of enrolling in the Third Order, and her coming across the life of St. Teresa of Avila, are signs of God's determination to lead her towards Carmelite spirituality. After her return to the family home, she was entrusted with the education of a number of girls and in taking care of them was to show a true motherly spirit. This proves to be the start of her educational work, in which she is joined by other girls who share as friends in her prayer and labors.

In 1852, the local municipality but her in charge of the local girls school and on 15th October 1854, with the approval of the Bishop of Fiesole, Francesco Bronzuoli, and of Grand Duke Leopold II, she and her companions take the Carmelite habit. The event marked the beginning of the Institute of Our Lady of Carmel, but just when the things are going well, with many vocations and opening of the second house, the government intervened and in 1859 it ordered the Institute to be suppressed.

In 1875 Mother Maria Teresa moved to Florence, where she opened a school and a residence for girls. In 1878, with the approval of the Archbishop, Cardinal Agostino Bausa, she brought the community together again. In 14th November 1889, feast day of the Carmelite Saints, Maria Teresa died a holy death, assisted by a tiny gathering of Sisters. The seed was sown and was soon to bear and abundant fruit. Full development of the Institute came at the beginning of 20th century, with many vocations and new communities, thanks to the work of Mother Maria Mosca, a woman of great abilities and intuition that it was girl who would be capable of interpreting and carrying out her great missionary dream and she foretold her entry in Carmel.