Reopening of the Charismatic Part of the Mother House
Fifty-three years after the birth of the Institute, the mothers will have to abandon the only house that saw the birth of the Institute, because it had to be demolished together with the old Roman buildings. In those circumstances, a whole neighborhood was shocked by the communication. One day the spiritual father of the community communicated to La Madre: “She will have to do everything possible to find another home, so as not to be left homeless”. That was the district where Mother was born, raised, the district of her vocation and of her encounter with Father Tommaso. Humanly memories awaken nostalgia.
In those days the mothers didn’t talk to each other much, they cried, they consoled each other, but above all they prayed as Mother Elena had established, very attentive so that the situation did not turn into panic. The expression of the mother: I am neither in Heaven nor on earth, expresses not only her state of mind in front of the fact of having to leave the house, but of finding herself in a human condition, of having to accept that we are just made thus: neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal. Man is a perennial pilgrim, a nomad called to leave his own land, always in search of a better land, a promised land. Therefore that occasion could be transformed into a spiritual opportunity that will lead mothers to maturity, because when one has to abandon the security that the earthly Motherhouse offers, one becomes capable of making one’s own history a masterpiece of spirituality.
So say the historical facts? That in the end, there was no doubt, a solution would be found. Archbishop Sirolli had found a temporary accommodation and after a providential gesture he had come to the cardinal vicar who pointed the finger at the Testaccio district. Another humiliating surprise: there among the shards and rubbish piled up over the centuries, next to the poor, the homeless outlawed, without any religious buildings. Usually when you leave a home, the hope of finding a better one arises. Instead here it is the opposite. While in Via dei Falegnami, among the ancient monuments there was public life, the churches, in Testaccio people hated the Church and the nobility. Mother Elena courageously accepts the proposal:
Construction was started on April 25, 1887. We are amazed imagining M. Elena having to take care of the spiritual life of the community and at the same time face the architects and municipal employees to negotiate prices and permits with them. But she proved up to the role of her capable of transforming that tension between earthly things and heavenly things into a spiritual treasure. While she was building the new Mother House, a spiritual community was being built even more. This is why the Mother House is sacred, and must be respected in its sacredness. The parent company is only one! The Mother House is like a hive of the primary swarm from which the new colonies were formed to produce sweet, nutritious and healthy spiritual honey. The Mother House is like a swallow’s nest where they return every year to announce spring. The Mother House is the foundation of a spiritual building sustained with many prayers and sacrifices. The general houses can be many and varied, the Mother House only one.
But to build this spiritual profile of their new home in Testaccio, the mothers still had to undergo many trials. As soon as you entered the new house, they noticed the unfinished and badly done works. Only two years after the explosion of the powder magazine at Porta Portese on 23 April 1891, the Mother House too became a pile of rubble. Mother Elena was seventy-seven years old and she had to face the umpteenth challenge, but she doesn’t let herself be won this time either, satisfied that the sisters are fine. But the trials were not over and the price of their spiritual maturity was very dear. After renovating the house, the cardinal vicar asked his mother to host the Canossian nuns in their new house, who were also left homeless. Mother’s heart did not hesitate to host another community, but in practice coexistence was not easy, due to the meddling of some monsignors. After all, it was not a question of hospitality for a few months, but for a very long period (16 years). M. Elena was already consumed by illnesses but she learned of the presence of another Institute, knowing that at the end of the day, in the new life, we will all have a single home which is the heart of the Father.
For decades, our mother house was the point of reference for the people of Testaccio: children, the elderly, the sick, the parish, the first church in Testaccio. The Mother House has kept a dream born of a maternal heart that rests nearby (in the chapel). A few years ago it seemed that this dream is dying out. It seemed that a powder keg had exploded again. The demolition of the small chapel on the first floor, the beautiful altar, the relics that probably came from the house in Via dei Falegnami, the crucifix carried up the stairs, etc. Therefore, after the painful years that the Institute has lived, it is a providential sign that the Mother General m. Donata, together with her advice they made it to the Mother House. Even if the weight of the years is felt, everything possible is done to preserve the memory of one’s spiritual origins. If those origins are lost, one arrives at where one arrived before the commissioner of the Institute. Now, open to building the future and adapting to new times, we go forward knowing that even if we are there will be only one Daughter of Divine Providence to pray under this roof, this will always be the Mother House:
Via Matteo Bartoli, 255 – Rome – Italy