The origins of Maria Cristina of Savoy
Maria Cristina of Savoy (Cagliari, November 14, 1812 – Naples, January 31, 1836)
Maria Cristina di Savoia was born in Cagliari on November 14, 1812. The royal family was in exile on the island, Piedmont had been occupied by the French. Educated in discipline and obedience, she had the Neapolitan Giovan Battista Terzi, an Olivetan monk, as her tutor and spiritual guide. Of good character, she Maria Cristina loved to study, travel, know. Prayer was for her a landing place, a comfort.
The meeting with the future king
It was Terzi himself who convinced her to accept the marriage proposal that came from Naples. She was nineteen. Her wedding with the twenty-two year old Ferdinand II of Bourbon was celebrated on November 21, 1832 in Voltri, in the Genoese area.
A life dedicated to others
She supported her husband’s political action by always suggesting choices of justice, charitable actions. Together they allocated part of the money foreseen for the celebrations for their wedding to the constitution of a dowry for 240 poor girls, she redeemed many pledges deposited in the pawnshop. She intervened in court life to improve her husband’s relations, pushed him to meekness, helped him to be more willing to listen and to be more forgiving. In the few years that she was queen she managed to prevent the execution of all capital sentences. She had a locked box placed on the staircase of the Royal Palace in Naples, which she kept, in which everyone was allowed to post requests for help and every evening she opened it and took note of what was asked of her. She then gave instructions for intervention. She destined a large part of her wealth to grant the pleas that came to her. She always used different suppliers because, it was her belief, everyone could have a little gain and trust. She supported the craft activities of the Kingdom, from the silk factories of San Leucio to the coral factories of Torre del Greco.
Francis II was born on January 14. Naples was celebrating and with it the whole kingdom. But Maria Cristina’s health began to deteriorate. A strong fever kept her nailed to the bed, diminished by the pain of not being able to hold the newborn close to her and by that of her body that she didn’t heal from her. After days of agony, on January 31 at noon she went into a coma. A little later she passed away. Her body was exhibited for eight days in the Sala d’ Ercole. Then she, carried on the shoulders of the court dignitaries, was taken to the basilica of Santa Chiara where the Pantheon of the Bourbons is. It was raining that day and the people spoke of the tears of the sky, because at only twenty-three she left forever her palace, her family, her people, “the holy queen”.
King Ferdinand II started the beatification process and on 10 July 1859 the Holy See announced that the queen had been proclaimed venerable. On 25 January 2014, in the basilica of Santa Chiara in Naples, the rite of her beatification was celebrated.