Croatia's Maria Petkovic Aided the Poor

Founder of Congregation Will Be Beatified

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ZAGREB, Croatia, JUNE 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- On Friday in Dubrovnik the Pope will beatify Maria Petkovic, a religious who was profoundly given to mercy and assistance to the needy.



Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic was born on Dec. 10, 1892, in Kurcula Island. She was the sixth of eight children of Anthony and Maria Petkovic.

The young Maria felt the suffering, hunger and poverty of the people and, as a child, she decided to protect the poor, "the Lord's chosen and loved brothers," as she would call them.

This desire, coupled with the instructions of Bishop Josip Marcelic of Dubrovnik, led her to found, on the feast of the Annunciation in 1919, the religious community dedicated "to the education and instruction of the feminine youth of the place."

In 1928, inspired by the rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, Bishop Marcelic instituted canonically the religious community of diocesan right. The Daughters of Mercy received papal recognition and the approval of its constitutions on Dec. 6, 1956.

Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic seemed happiest when she was with the poor and the excluded. She said she saw the face of the suffering Jesus in them.

Until her death in Rome on July 9, 1966, she never tired of exhorting her religious sisters to show, by their behavior and sacrifice, that they incarnated the love, goodness and mercy of God.

The Daughters of Mercy have 429 women religious in 12 countries of Europe and America. Their work includes education, care of the elderly and sick, development of missions, and ecumenical dialogue.