|Casa Immacolata during Maria Mazzarello's time|
The day began in the company of the Holy Spirit. Morning Prayer set tone to our day as we began to explore the life of our Main at Casa Immacolata. She was indeed ‘a soul led by the Spirit’.
The input session broadened our understanding regarding the House of the Immaculate. From 1851, though Angela Maccagno had in her mind to found an Association, the official foundation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate took place on December 9, 1855. Fr. Giuseppe Frassinetti’s influence on the DMI was both juridical and spiritual. The DMI committed themselves to the spread of religion among the girls and women, assistance of women who were ill and alone, being with them even in the last moments of their life. It is in obedience to this rule that Maria Domenica contracted typhoid while caring for her sick relatives. The house of the Immaculate was built by Fr. Pestarino to use it for himself during the winter when he had to begin confessions early in the mornings. He also had a secret plan to give it to the DMI. The daughters were made aware of this plan and for this reason some of them had contributed to the costs.
|Casa Immacolata with Presbytery (left) and Parish Church (right)|
The Eucharist in the Collegio Chapel: Sisters of Kolkatta (INC) province animated the liturgy. At the entrance procession we had to tie a friendship band on the wrist of our friend (the sister whose name we had picked the previous evening) promising her of our prayers. During the Liturgy of the Word the Bible was enthroned by garlanding and performing Aarathi to the Bible.
Visit to the House of the Immaculate: Then came the much awaited moment, our visit to the Casa Immacolata, now owned by Mrs. Chiara. As Mrs. Chiara was taking us round the house, who do you think we saw? We had the great fortune of meeting the grand niece of Mother Mazzarello, Maria, granddaughter of Main’s youngest brother Nicola, who is now 94 years old. One could only imagine our joy! We rallied round her for photographs. Her only words for us were ‘many blessings from our Saint’. She was very surprised to hear from us that we belonged to the different parts of the world…
|The grandniece of St Maria Mazzarello in front of her house|
Then Mrs. Chiara took us right into the Casa Immacolata. She showed us the room of Maria Domenica. As we went up the steps she also said that they were the original steps, where our Main might have climbed up and down. From there she brought us to the hall to show us various documents that she has acquired and preserved. We saw Fr. Pestarino’s handwriting to show that Maria Domenica was admitted for Holy Communion once in 1850, thrice in 1851, five times in 1852 and forever from 1853 onwards. Mrs. Chiara showed us the documents for the entire lineage of the ownership of the House of the Immaculate. After Fr. Pestarino’s death, according to his will the house was left to Don Rua in 1874 (we know - that Fr. Pestarino became a Salesian and remained in Mornese to continue his mission). Fr. Rua sold it to Angela Maccagno in 1876. After Angela Maccagno’s death, Catherine Mazzarello took care of the house and school from 1890. In 1921, Fr. Luigi inherited the house form his aunt Catherine Mazzarello. In 1922 he sold it to Bodrato. In 1938 Dr. Bocca (physician) who is the grandfather of Mrs. Chiara bought it from Bodrato. It passed from her grandfather to her father and she inherited it from her father.
The Daughters of the Immaculate had moved to the House of the Immaculate in 1867 and remained there until 23rd May 1972. INDEED IT IS THE FIRST NOVITIATE OF OUR CONGREGATION! MARIA DOMENICA WAS THE FIRST NOVICE MISTRESS THERE, WHILE BEING ALSO A NOVICE!
by Sr. Cecilia C.