St. Paula Montal Fornés
Feast Day — February 26
Paula was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1799. She was the oldest of five daughters. Her father died when she was only 10, and Paula had to go to work to help her mother support the family. She also helped her mother raise her younger sisters. Paula was disappointed that she could not attend school. She promised God that she would devote her life to the Christian education of girls and young woman.
Paula and her best friend, Inés Busquets, moved to a city near the border of Spain and France in 1829 to open their first school. It offered special training for girls and also educated them in the Catholic faith.
After the third school was built, Paula was given permission from the pope in 1847 to form an order of nuns who were committed to her work. The name Paula chose was the Daughters of Mary Religious of the Pious Schools. The community was devoted to our Blessed Mother and to the education of young women. When the community gathered to elect a Mother Superior, Sister Paula was not chosen. This was unusual because she had founded the order, but Paula was not upset. She saw it as a sign that God wanted her to continue to work closely with the girls in the Pious Schools.
Paula personally founded eight more schools. She was also responsible for the formation of the young women who wanted to become Daughters of Mary nuns. The young nuns and the students she taught were inspired by her holiness.
Mother Paula Montal died in 1889 at one of the schools she founded, Olesa de Montserrat. She was canonized in 1993, at which time there were more than 800 Sisters of the Pious Schools in 19 countries of the world.
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