Blessed Elena Guerra (23 June 1835 – 11 April 1914) was an Italian Roman Catholic professed religious and the founder of the Oblates of the Holy Spirit. Guerra dedicated her life to the education of girls and made it the sole focus of her religious life while also making a stronger emphasis on devotion to the Holy Spirit. To that end she sent a total of twelve private letters with Pope Leo XIII who held great esteem for Guerra's work to the point he issued three documents on it. Leo XIII further renamed Guerra's order further strengthening it though Guerra was forced to resign as the Superior General in August 1906 due to internal friction.
Guerra was beatified on 26 April 1959 after the recognition of two miracles attributed to her intercession.
Elena Guerra was born in Lucca on 23 June 1835 as one of six children to Antonio Guerra and Faustina Franceschi. In her childhood she was known to be talented but timid in nature. Guerra made her Confirmation on 5 June 1843.
Guerra studied French as well as music and art but also learnt Latin and the lives and works of the Church Fathers during the time of her illness since her free time and convalescence enabled it; this illness spanned from 1857 to 1864 and she could not leave the house because of it. Guerra also worked alongside the Vincentians. Cholera struck Lucca in 1853 and she tended to the ill after her parents granted her permission to do so. In 1866 she established her own congregation in order to dedicate herself to the education of girls which she decided would be the sole focus of her life. It was called the Order of Saint Zita in honor of the patron saint of Lucca to whom she also had an admiration for. One of her students was Saint Gemma Galgani.
Guerra travelled to Rome in 1870 to attend a session of the First Vatican Council that Pope Pius IX had convened. Guerra and her father made an Easter pilgrimage there in April 1870 and visited the tomb of Saint Peter before she was able to meet with the pope on 23 June 1870. It was about a decade later that she corresponded with Pope Leo XIII and asked him to rekindle in the faithful devotion to the Holy Spirit. Leo XIII responded with three documents between 1895 and 1902 which were a letter to the episcopate as well as one apostolic letter (Provida matris caritate) and one encyclical (Divinum illud munus). Leo XIII renamed the order after this as a sign of his esteem for them. The pope later granted her a private audience on 18 October 1897 in which he encouraged her work and renamed the order. It was at some stage that she corresponded with Saint Arnold Janssen regarding a "militia of the Holy Spirit" that would be dedicated to working against the Freemasons. In August 1906 the Archbishop of Lucca told her that he would not permit her prospective religious from vesting or taking their vows unless she resigned as the order's Superior General. Guerra resigned her position after reflection more so in light of internal friction with some nuns questioning the manner in which she was leading the congregation. Her order received papal approval from Pope Pius X on 6 March 1911. Saint Giovanni Bosco once referred to Guerra as a "golden pen" in reference to her spiritual writings.
Guerra died on 11 April 1914 (on Holy Saturday) and is buried in Lucca at the church of Sant'Agostino. Her order continues its work with houses in nations such as Iran and the Philippines amongst others; in 2008 there were 232 members of her order in 36 houses across the globe.
The beatification process commenced in Lucca on 5 May 1936 under Pope Pius XI. With the commencement of the cause she was granted the posthumous title of Servant of God. Two local processes were held on a diocesan level and were both ratified on 13 April 1945 after documents were sent to the Congregation for Rites; her spiritual writings received theological approval on 21 May 1935. An antepreparatory committee approved the documents pertaining to the cause on 26 June 1951 as did a preparatory one on 20 January 1953 and a general committee on 21 April 1953. Pope Pius XII approved her life of heroic virtue and proclaimed her to be Venerable on 26 June 1953.
Two investigations into two alleged miracles were held and were both validated and ratified on 16 October 1953. The miracle was soon approved (after passing several boards) and allowed for Pope John XXIII to celebrate her beatification on 26 April 1959 in Saint Peter's Basilica. 5000 of her own congregation attended the beatification celebration. The apostolic letter Renovanis faciem terrae' was the document that authorized the beatification though it was Cardinal Domenico Tardini who signed the document.
The current postulator overseeing this cause is the Cistercian priest Ugo Gianluigi Tagni.