Upon hearing that the Founder, Fr. Alberione, had chosen her to “carry out silence, silence, silence,” you might think that Mother Scholastica’s life was thoroughly still, calm, and safe from all surprises. But in reality, her life was anything but predictable!
Born in Guarene, Italy on July 12, 1897, Ursula Rivata was raised in a loving family. Her childhood suffered a major heartbreak, however, when her mother passed away suddenly after a short illness. The little Ursula missed her mother dearly, as she tried to adjust to a life without her.
But just a year later, she would have an encounter that would change her life forever… Ursula met Jesus in the Eucharist. And thus began what would become a life-long love. She began to think about religious life.
At the age of 20, Ursula’s dreams of religious life were challenged when she received a wonderful marriage proposal! It was an offer with a promising future, but she felt torn about accepting it. After thought and prayer, she looked to Jesus and said: “You alone, Lord, and that’s that!” It might have seemed crazy to the world around her to turn down a good offer of a good future from a good man, but for Ursula, Jesus was her everything.
Not long afterwards, she encountered Father Alberione as she was searching for a good book to read. After a very brief conversation, Father Alberione, who had already founded the Society of St. Paul and The Daughters of St. Paul, surprised her by asking “When are you coming to Saint Paul?”
Neither the suddenness of the invitation, nor the prospect of doing what was then considered “men’s work” of working with printing presses to spread the Gospel through the Good Press, frightened Ursula. She jumped at God’s surprise invitation and, on July 29, 1922, joined Fr. Alberione’s Pauline family.
For two years, Ursula dedicated herself enthusiastically to any task to which she was assigned, believing wholeheartedly that everything, from working the presses to cleaning the vegetables for dinner, worked towards bringing “glory to God and peace to mankind.” But she wasn’t to remain there for long, for God had yet another surprise in store.
In 1924, Fr. Alberione astonished everyone by announcing that he was establishing a new congregation – The Pious Disciples of the Divine Master – and by handpicking its first few members from among the dedicated young women of the Pauline family. Ursula was chosen, and overnight she went from aspiring to be a Daughter of St. Paul to being one of the first Pious Disciples.
The Pious Disciples (also known as the “Sister Disciples”) were founded to be "entirely dedicated to the Divine Master, and devoting itself to Eucharistic adoration and the priestly and liturgical apostolate, [to] be a source of grace for the entire Pauline Family, especially those branches involved in the apostolic life." Ursula embraced her new call fully! Taking the name Sr. Scholastica, she became the very first Mother of the Pious Disciples.
Mother Scholastica continued to live out her burning love for God and for Souls. Her joy and enthusiasm were infectious, and she was always ready to listen to the needs of others. She would tuck a newspaper under her arm and bring it into Adoration, presenting it with the needs of the world to Jesus in the Eucharist. The girl from Guarene traveled from Italy to France, Egypt, Argentina, and back to Italy, all to spread this mission of love.
In the last few years of her life, Mother Scholastica’s voice began to fail, eventually plunging her into a life of complete silence. But even unable to speak, she continued to live out her promise to offer up her days for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Mother Scholastica passed away peacefully March 24, 1987 at the age of 90, during the first Vespers of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. She has been declared Venerable, and the case for her Beatification is currently ongoing.