Four Great Luccan Spiritual Women

A colleague, who is now qualified also as a tourist guide for Lucca and who sings in that doyen of Garfagnana choirs at Gallicano, told me that for a place with such a relatively small population Lucca has a remarkable quartet of “spiritual” women i.e. women who had a strong faith in God and who found strength through Him to achieve outstanding things, particularly in times when women were still regarded as second-class citizens with few rights. They are in chronological order:

  • Zita
  • Maria Barbantini
  • Elena Guerra
  • Emma Galgani

Two of them have been canonised (i.e. are saints) and two of them have been beatified (i.e. are blessed) I’d realised that in some way or another I’d touched on all four of these amazing women in at least one of my posts so I’m bringing them all together here and referring to where I’ve written about them elsewhere:


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Saint Zita was born at Monsagrati, near Lucca (where there is a lovely chapel to her memory) in 1218 and died in 1278. She was canonized in 1698. Her attributes are the lily (purity) and a set of keys (referring to her position as a servant in her owner’s house). Zita’s Saint’s day is 27th April and she is buried in the basilica of San Frediano. Saint Zita is patron saint of domestic servants, governesses, housewives and bakers. My contribution to Saint Zita can be found at:

Maria Barbantini


The blessed Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini was born in Lucca, in 1789 and died there in 1868. She married but unfortunately her husband died after a few months, leaving her pregnant with Lorenzo. Sadly, when just six Lorenzo, too, died. At this stage Maria Barbantini decided to found in 1829 the congregation of the ministering sisters for the sick at the hospital of Saint Camillo de Lellis. She was beatified by Pope (now saint) John Paul II in 1995. She is commemorated on the 22 May and her remains are at the Sisters’ church in Via Elisa, Lucca My contribution to the Blessed Barbantini can be found at:

Elena Guerra

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The blessed Elena Guerra was born in 1835 and died in 1914. She was beatified by Pope (now saint) John 23rd in 1959. Her remains are venerated at the church of Saint Augustine in Lucca. Her remembrance day is April 11th. My contribution on Elena Guerra can be found at:

Gemma Galgani

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Saint Gemma was born in 1878 and died in 1903. She was beatified in 1933 and made a saint in 1940. Her remains are venerated at the monastery and sanctuary of Saint Gemma just outside the eastern walls of Lucca. Her saint’s day is 11th April. My post about Gemma is at:

I think few other cities of comparable size have contributed so many women to the list of saints and blessed in the Roman Catholic calendar as Lucca!


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