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A census of religious communities that constitutes a history of Italy

 Un censimento di comunità religiose  che è una storia d’Italia  DCM-006
03 June 2023

The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was founded in Mornese (Alessandria) on August 5, 1872, by St John Bosco and St Mary Domenica Mazzarello. When sixteen years later, in 1888, Don Bosco died, the Salesian Sisters were found throughout Italy, where they had opened and ran oratories, colleges, schools and professional workshops with a special focus on young people from the poorer classes. In 1966, there were 695 communities, an all-time high. Then from the mid-Seventies this number began to shrink, gradually making it necessary to redesign Salesian Italy.

The activities of the very popular educator sisters from their foundation to the present day are collected in Le Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice in Italia [The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Italy] (1872-2022) two texts of the Collana Percorsi della Pontificia Facoltà di Scienze dell'Educazione Auxilium [Pathways Series of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium] promoted by the Centro studi FMA [FMA Study Center], Palumbi is the publisher. These are two large volumes edited by Paola Cuccioli and Grazia Loparco. A total of 1,358 pages that detail the activities carried out in 1,173 religious houses/communities according to the chronological order since the first foundation. Thus, Piedmont, Liguria, and Sicily are in the first volume; Veneto, Lombardy and all the other regions, except Molise, in the second. It is a very useful census, which talks about the Don Bosco Sisters, their organisational, social and territorial structure and fact sheet after fact sheet tells the story of Italy. In 150 years within the FMA the Italian nuns have been the most numerous. This number has reached 14,034 professed, of which 2,561 are living.  There are 171 active houses today. Don Francesco Motto of the Salesian Historical Institute writes in the Preface that the FMA institute “presents itself as a united body of women, of educators, well regulated and managed, attentive to scrutinize in depth and respond, with the means at its disposal, to the needs of the poorest girls, of the girls in difficulty, of the neediest families, of society as a whole. And this both in the country's serene moments of relative well-being, and in the dramatic junctures of world wars or national emergencies (migration seasons, epidemics, floods, earthquakes)”.

The fact sheets for the individual Houses were written by Paola Cuccioli (Piedmont and Val d’Aosta), Maria Stella Calicchia (Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany), Loredana Corazza (Lombardy), Bruna Calgaro (Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia), Claudia Daretti (Lazio, Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo, Sardinia), Lucia Vizzi (Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria), Carmela Maria Coniglione (Sicily).