“There are many common places, sometimes even offensive, about the woman-temptress who challenges the evil. Instead, there is room for a theology of woman who is worthy of God’s blessing for her and for the human generation”. Those are the words of Pope Bergoglio, almost as if he wanted to destroy a mentality which is chronic, ridiculous and which permeated every social reality, in which women were often considered to be the cause of every sin, even its very reason. Women were looked at one-sidedly, and this side was a chauvinist one.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world women are still considered “dangerous” subjects who must be covered and hidden as much as possible, so as to keep away temptation. The world lives between those two extremes: on the one hand, we have a model of woman who must be submissive to her husband and, sometimes, even share his conjugal affection with other women, knowing that she is not the only one; on the other hand, we see how other women reduce themselves, women who have become completely shameless, proud not only of being of “easy virtue” but even of not showing any virtue at all.
The words of the Pontiff, instead, emphasized a marvellous and unique aspect of femininity, that is, maternity: “The woman carries a secret and a special blessing for the defence of her creature from evil, as the woman from Apocalypse who runs to hide her child from the dragon and God protects it. God gives His merciful protection both to men and women and never fails to take care of one or the other: let us not forget this”.
In history there are incredible examples of great women. Florence Nightingale, a pioneer in the field of the modern nursing science; diligent in caring for the sick ones, patient and sympathetic with those who suffer, correct in the management of a hospital.
Or Mother Teresa of Calcutta, known as Anjeza Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, foundress of the religious congregation of the Charity Missionaries. A woman with a great heart and character who devoted her life to the poor. She received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and in October 19, 2003 was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Or else, Clarice Emmeline Pankhurst who in 1889 founded the League for women’s right to vote. For drawing attention to her cause, that aimed at obtaining suffrage for women, she was arrested on several occasions and applied the tactics of the hunger strike. Her efforts had success only in March 1918, when women above the age of 30 obtained the right to vote.
Or, to conclude, Saint Catherine of Siena, one of Europe’s patrons. She has become a layman member of the order of the Dominicans, dedicated her life to help the poor, the sick and children, working tirelessly in hospitals and homes.
All those women had the “secret blessing” which is the force of the mother who has to protect her own child from Satan, the prince of darkness. A vocation, that manifests not only toward the natural son or daughter, but toward the community as a whole, which seems to be shaky at times. It occurs when the woman betrays her vocation to be intrinsically a mother, and maternal beyond the actual act of birth giving; but this spirit of motherhood is unique and unbelievable and it is part of women’s DNA. This makes them docile and noble, strong, loving, contemplative and pragmatic precisely in the image of the One whom God has chosen for a unique mission: to give birth to the Saviour of the world. Don Benzi used to say that “every woman is a Virgin”.