The Servant of God, Maria Rosa Segale (Sr. Blandina Segale) was born January 23, 1850 in Cicagna, Italy. Her family migrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A. when she was four years old. Her first word as a child was Gesu (Jesus).
Ministries & Heroic Virtues
On September 13, 1866 the Servant of God entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. She was sent to work in the newly acquired territories of the western United States in 1872. Arriving first in Trinidad, Colorado, Sr. Blandina taught the poor Hispanic children. In 1877 she was transferred to Santa Fe, New Mexico where she cofounded the public and catholic schools. Her work included starting hospitals in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her work in these territories is well documented in the publication of letters to her sister, also a Sister of Charity, called “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail”.
More Heroic Virtues
Other heroic virtues include her tireless work of teaching and healing the immigrant, the marginalized, and the poor, and advocating for women and children. She challenged the occupying government and military in fair treatment of the Native Americans. She came to the aid of mistreated railroad workers, finding time to care for the sick while building orphanages, hospitals, schools, and trade schools.
"Fastest Nun in the West"
Her compassion converted hundreds and Sr. Blandina even had numerous encounters with the famous “Billy the Kid” and his band of outlaws. She calmed mobs of armed men from taking the law into their own hands and helped criminals seek forgiveness from their victims, even saving a man from a hanging party by facilitating reconciliation between him and the man he shot before dying. In 1966 this story of bravery was told in a CBS series Death Valley Days episode “The Fastest Nun in the West” where she faced down the barrels of guns to find justice. One account is her prevention of Hispanic and Native American’s loss of homes and land to swindlers; another is saving a lost horse drawn wagon of passengers during a winter blizzard and reaching safety in blackout conditions.
In 1966 her story of bravery was told in a CBS series Death Valley Days episode “The Fastest Nun in the West” where she faced down the barrels of guns to find justice.
Santa Maria Institute in Cincinnati
In 1897 she founded the Santa Maria Institute in Cincinnati, serving immigrants. She lead the organization until 1933. The institute is still in operation today, serving the poor and marginalized.
CHI St. Joseph's Community Health
In 1900 Sr. Blandina returned to Albuquerque for two years to help start the St. Joseph Hospital whose mission continues today as CHI St. Joseph’s Children, also known as St. Joseph Community Health.
Her ministries continue today, over 100 years later, and thousands of poor children receive early childhood service by her continuing ministry. Many of the adobe structures Sr. Blandina built still stand today as monuments to her courage, compassion, and healing nature. For example, the convent that bears her name in Old Albuquerque. Her life’s work is well documented in the archives of the Sisters of Charity Mother House in Cincinnati.
A Saint for all Times
Sr. Blandina was one of the petitioners of the Cause of St. Elizabeth Seton and at 81 years old she traveled to Italy to meet with Pope Pius to plead St. Elizabeth’s Cause. The Servant of God died on February 23, 1941 in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity at the age of 91. Her last words were Gesu e Madre.
Postulator for the Cause
Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez
Diocese of Las Cruces
Judge for the Cause
Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan
Archbishop Emeritus of Santa Fe
Petitioner for the Cause
Mr. Allen Sánchez
President & CEO
CHI St. Joseph's Children
Leadership of the
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Sisters Lois Jean Goettke, councilor, Louise Lears, councilor, Mary Bookser, councilor, Joan Elizabeth Cook, president, and Christine Marie Rody, councilor