St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli was born in Genoa, Italy, on April 2, 1587. She was raised in an aristocratic but pious family, and when she was young, she wanted to consecrate herself to God in religious life. However, she was pressured into an arranged marriage when she was 15, and had two daughters.
Virginia’s husband was a drinker and a gambler, and he died only five years after they were married. Virginia dedicated her time to raising her children, and praying and performing works of charity. After her daughters were grown, she began caring for the sick, the elderly, and the abandoned.
In 1625, Virginia founded a refuge center in Genoa, which filled up almost immediately. In 1631, she rented an empty convent to care for the sick. Other women joined her mission, and she instructed them in the faith.
Virginia constructed a church dedicated to Our Lady of Refuge, and soon, the women who worked with her were formed into two congregations: the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary, and the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary.
Virginia retired from administration of both orders to beg for alms and work among their patients, but she was called back to administrative duties. In her later years, she received visions and locutions.
Virginia died on December 15, 1651, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 18, 2003.