At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Maria Cristina of Savoy

Pious princess was beatified by Pope Francis


Maria Cristina of Savoy
Maria Cristina of Savoy
Princess Maria Cristina Carlotta Giuseppina Gaetana Elisa of Savoy was born on this day in 1812 in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia.

She was the youngest child of King Victor Emmanuel I of Piedmont-Sardinia and his wife Queen Maria Teresa of Austria-Este.

Maria Cristina was described as beautiful, but she was also modest and pious and in 2014 she was beatified by the current Pope, Francis.

As a Savoy princess she had been expected to make an advantageous marriage alliance and when she was just 20 years of age she was married to Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, in an attempt to keep southern Italy on friendly terms, at a ceremony in Genoa.

Modest and reserved, she was never comfortable at the royal court in Naples and she was unhappy with Ferdinand. But she was said to be loved by the ordinary people of the Two Sicilies, who were charmed by her beauty and kindness.

Maria Cristina died only five days after giving birth to her son, Francis
Maria Cristina died only five days after giving
birth to her son, Francis
She had always been a devout Catholic and her commitment to God and the Church along with her beauty caused people to regard her as an angelic figure.

She gave birth to her only child, who would grow up to become Francis II of the Two Sicilies, in January 1836. Five days later she died as a result of childbirth complications. The King married again in less than a year.

After her son, Francis II, had lost his throne and was living in exile he began to push for the Church to take up his late mother’s cause for beatification.

Nearly 40 years later in 1872 she was declared to be a Servant of God by Pope Pius IX. In May 1937 she was declared to be a Venerable Servant of God by Pope Pius XI and in May 2013 Pope Francis authorised a decree recognising a miracle due to her intercession, a further stage on her progress to beatification. The beatification ceremony was conducted by the current Pope in January 2014 at the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples, where the now Blessed Maria Cristina is buried.

The Castello is the historic centre of Cagliari
The Castello is the historic centre of Cagliari
Travel tip:

Maria Cristina was born in Cagliari in Sardinia while the Savoy family were living there in exile, having been forced to leave their palace in Turin in Piedmont because the city was under French occupation. Although Cagliari is Sardinia’s main port and an industrial centre it is now also a popular tourist destination, with tree-lined boulevards and a charming historic centre, known as Castello.

The tomb of Maria Cristina of Savoy in the Basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples
The tomb of Maria Cristina of Savoy in the Basilica
of Santa Chiara in Naples
Travel tip:

Maria Cristina was buried in the Church of Santa Chiara in Via Benedetto Croce, part of Spaccanapoli in Naples. The church is part of a religious complex, which also includes a monastery and an archaeological museum. Maria Cristina’s tomb is in a side chapel along with the tomb of Salvo d’Acquisto, a carabiniere who sacrificed his life to save the lives of 22 civilian hostages during the Nazi occupation of Italy. Outside is the famous majolica Cloister, which was decorated in 1742 with brightly-coloured majolica tiles by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro.


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