Rome (Italy). May 8, 2022 marks a significant anniversary for the origins of the FMA Institute. 150 years ago, a Municipal Council was held in Mornese in which it was decided to build the parish house, a decision that made it necessary to think of a new home for the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception, the future Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Sr. Piera Cavaglià, Secretary General emeritus, researched the historical event and offered the details.

It should be remembered, as a background, that the people of Mornese had collaborated since 1864 to build the Collegio located in Borgo Alto on the land owned by Fr. Domenico Pestarino. Everyone was enthusiastic about that project; it was to be a boarding school for the boys of the town and neighboring towns, in an area where there were very few opportunities to study. Fr. Pestarino, born and resident in Mornese, would thus have provided for the good of his own town.

However, when Don Bosco decided to found the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in 1871, he told Fr. Pestarino that he thought it appropriate to start the new community in the Mornese Collegio. For the Mornesini the news was like a bolt from the blue. What a disappointment for families who were already thinking of letting their sons study there! The Mornese people did not understand why it had to be destined for a small group of girls whose intentions and projects were not well known. This caused discontent among the Mornesini and heated criticism against Fr. Pestarino, who had not kept his promises.

On 8 May 1872, the Municipality instead decided to use the Collegio for the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception. The Chronicle of the Institute thus entitles that chapter of history: Providential Circumstance, which begins with this observation, “And here is Our Lady to show how easy it is for her to smooth out every difficulty and how much reason Don Bosco had in repeating to Fr. Pestarino: ‘Let’s wait calmly; who knows that with time’ … “

For some years the parish house had needed urgent repairs because it was unsafe. It was wiser and more convenient to build a new one on that same ground, being in front of the parish. The Municipality therefore decided to temporarily transfer the parish priest to the Immaculate House, near the parish church in the site where the group of the Daughters of the Immaculate lived with some resident girls. These, suggested the Councilor Mazzarello, could transfer to the Collegio where there were already rooms available.

Fr. Giuseppe Campi, also a native of Mornese, who knew the people and the situations very well, wrote that the Municipal Councilor who had made that proposal was “notoriously opposed to Fr. Pestarino, which made it better known how that was precisely the will of divine Providence” (Cronistoria I 283).

And so, Fr. Pestarino informed the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception to prepare for the transfer. There, God and Mary Help of Christians were preparing the great event of the foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians!


  1. Quale commozione provo nel pensare a come la Provvidenza e Maria Ausiliatrice abbiano aiutato Don Bosco nella fondazione dell’Istituto.
    Grazie, grazie, grazie Signore!!!!!!


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