FR. SŁAWOMIR PIETRASZKO
The end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century. Hard times of a serious economic crisis, poverty, mass emigration of people in Italy. At this time fight for survival, for even every smallest crumb of bread, in Marola village there is a little girl who is called by her family ‘Rosina’ – ‘A little rose’ and whose life is going to be presented by the Church in the end of the XX century as an example for every mother.
I want anything….
Eurozja Fabris Barban (because it was her real name) was born on 27 September 1866 in Quinto Vincentino. Somebody allegedly shouted then: ‘Oh, how this child resembles the Child Mary!’. Indeed, little Rosina was getting more and more beautiful every day, and her beauty and delight was known all over the town. Parents, ordinary farmers could not afford to educate their seven children, so Eurozja had hardly finished two years of the primary school in which she was taught only to read and write.
Live in a village is not easy of which every farmer is aware, therefore, the future blessed girl had to stop education in order to help her parents in their household. ‘It is better to be poor than rich! A rich person will never gain peace of heart, but only fulfilling God’s will can bring it’ – she used to say. She was respected everywhere. Although she worked hard on farm, she found much time to teach catechism to children in a parish church. The good habit which will remain till her death, is reading the Holy Scripture every day which she always had with her. This beautiful and ordinary girl from the province shocked people with her good heart and knowledge. ‘I want nothing else than God’s love and growing in His love. Nothing else matters’ – she admits after years.
The responsible to God
In 1885 Rosina’s neighbours are touched by a tragedy – wife of Karol Barban is dying unexpectedly from an incurable illness and bereaves three daughters of whom the youngest one is only four months old. Soon one of the daughters joins the mother in eternity. To make things worse, it is necessary to take care of an elderly and ill grandfather and still young brother. The desperate widower asks 19-year-old Eurozja for help who agrees to help him in keeping house, everyday housework and take care of children. Was it easy for her? Surely it wasn’t. She often heard a malicious comment and feel slanderous looks on her. But as her children mention later, their mum had used to say: ‘We must be responsible to God, not to other people, for our deeds and our life. When we are looking at God, it is not important what other people say’.
After nearly six months Karol asks Eurozja to marry to him and on 5 May 1886 there is their modest wedding. However, their joy does not last long. The married couple finds it hard to make ends meet in the epoch of crisis, and enormous property of Karol seems to be in high debts because of his dad’s fault. The wife supports him: ‘Karol, be more courageous and you will see that Lord will help us’.
Their children are born and the Barbanów couples have nine of them. Eurozja is always happy, despite poverty her house shines with an example of cleanliness – is always tidied and clean. She always reads the Bible, gathers family at the Rosary prayer, and, beside her housework, she helps as a wet nurse to her neighbouring women who, because of the lack of her breast milk, cannot feed their babies. As she says – ‘God leads us more, when we do deeds of love from love to Him. When we give something to the poor, as if we gave to Jesus in person’.
We will rest in the paradise
Another tragedy. In 1917 their relative dies, whose husband is fighting on the frontier of the First World War at this moment. The orphaned children are without care, and their family do not express any willingness to take care of them. Eurozja and her husband make a decision: they take the children under their care and make them members of their family. However, there is a problem – how to provide food to fourteen of them? The brave mum decides to do something. She is a tailoring expert, so she sews and packs dresses till late hours. Where does she take strength for it, if she gets up early next day and makes sandwiches to her sons (like every loving mother) before they go to their classes in the seminary in Vicenza – where they used to go on foot because of the lack of money – then she always goes to the Holy Mass in the morning, in order to make breakfast for the others at home after her return? Moreover, she teaches eight to fifteen students of tailoring, from whom she does not take any money. She gives a reason for it: ‘Let God’s will come true. He loves us and will never leave us. We will rest in the paradise’.
Since then she had been called ‘Mum Rose’ and this name was known all over the village where people were surprised that in her poverty the woman can share everything with others. Every pilgrim in need or a poor man found accommodation and food in her house, like a vegetable from her garden or a few eggs from her backyard henhouse.
Like a grain
On the wall in the kitchen there was a picture of Our Lady from Monte Berico, in front of which the children often saw their mother kneeling and with her face hidden in her hands destroyed by work. ‘When you pray, you must forget about everything what is in the world! You must speak to God and be aware of what you say and what He says to us’ – they remember her hints. She said about financial troubles briefly: ‘Have always courage. Let’s fulfill God’s will and you will see that He will help us. Lord loves us so much that he died for us. So, why wouldn’t we trust His Providence?’. When she was accused of exaggerated number of children around her, she explained: ‘Children whom Lord gives to us are a treasure. We trust God completely, as He assured us about everything which we will need’. So, no wonder, that her three sons will become priests one day, and her daughter will enter a convent, and the proud mother will say: ‘I am so happy! I thank for the three chosen with all my heart and I do not deserve to so many graces, to such a privilege. But I sacrifice them right now…’.
Life did not protect her from suffering – her two children died at their young age. In 1930 her husband died and she joined the Third Order of St. Francis. She was always certain that God would take care of her ‘little treasures’, so she used to say a lot of times: ‘Children whom God gives to us are His children in the first place, not ours. If one wants to have them forever, we should be grateful and even happy, because in this way he bestows us with a great honour’.
One can say that the young, beautiful and clever woman wasted her life because she became a housewife imprisoned in a village underdeveloped Marola. One can….But for another reason after her death in the group of her relatives (8 January 1932) the words of her parish priest’s testimony were spread all over the world: ‘Life of Róża Barban was completely devoted to God and her family’. Can one consider the life which gave such fruits as wasted?