Our Foundress

“Trust God and miracles will happen!” – Venerable Mother Clelia Merloni

Clelia Merloni, foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, knew from an early age that following her father's footsteps in the family business was not the journey her life would take. We welcome you to learn more about her and her faith-filled journey.

Venerable Mother Clelia Merloni 

Clelia Merloni was born in Italy on March 10, 1861. As she matured, she found herself more attracted to prayer and solitude than to the elite social life and administration of the family business that her father wanted for her. Intelligent, gifted, and enthusiastic, she responded generously to God’s call by choosing the way of religious life. She renounced everything, using instead the rich energies of her charismatic zeal and the sizeable inheritance from her father’s estate to minister to the needy and marginalized.

On May 30, 1894, she founded the congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, sending sisters to the Americas at the turn of the last century. For the holiness needed to be able to fulfill God’s will and to lead the Sisters, Venerable Mother Clelia had to sustain many years of difficult trials, profound humiliations, and unspeakable sorrows. Her life was consumed in daily kindnesses and sacrifices for the needs of others and for the growth of the congregation. Venerable Mother Clelia died in Rome on November 21, 1930. Her body was placed in the Motherhouse chapel after her body was exhumed in 1945 and found to be incorrupt.

Nothing more appropriately describes this holy woman than the inscription on her tomb, which reads: “The Divine Heart of Jesus was the light of her existence. The poor, the oppressed, the unfortunate were her most tender concern. She lived in purity, simplicity and charity.”

Cause for Canonization

The Holy See opened Mother Clelia Merloni’s cause for canonization in 1988. At 7:00 p.m. on December 21, 2016, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, signed the Decree of Venerability of our most beloved Foundress. We praise the Blessed Trinity and thank God for this great grace. It is a feast in heaven and on earth! 

Early YearsFounding the CongretationExile and ReturnClelia Speaks