(Italy). “Like a deer on the mountains. Sr. Maria Pia Giudici” is the title of the book written by Graziella Curti, published by Pauline Editorial Books, November 2021, which proposes a portrait of Sr. Maria Pia Giudici (1922-2020), Daughter of Mary Help of Christians who lived the Salesian educational mission accompanying young people in the encounter with God through the Word and contact with nature in the mountains of Subiaco near Rome.
Graziella Curti, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, General Councilor of the FMA Institute for twelve years, and friend of Sr. Maria Pia, gathers and orchestrates interviews, fragments of her writings, testimonies of the numerous and diverse people who knew her, to outline her life and the intuition of giving stability to a space of welcome, dialogue, silence, and encounter with God, in the style of the Salesian family spirit.
From the vocational call while she was racing on her bicycle, to the assignment in the field of social communication where she puts her creativity and skills at the service of the creation of the film about the life of Mary Domenica Mazzarello, ‘Branches of a strong land’, to the first experiences of the Camps of the Word with the girls at the “Baita S. Maria”, up to living at the hermitage of San Biagio, emerges the vivacity of a woman who seeks God in beauty:
“My vocation was born within my thirst for beauty, goodness, truth. I felt that God alone was essentially the absolute answer to my thirst and that all I had (and it was much) was nothing compared to His love.”
The title of the book recalls the image of Psalm 42, which Sr. Maria Pia takes up in one of her poems, entitled ‘the Deer’, where she describes her passionate search for living water on the mountains of the Spirit.
“Sr. Maria Pia, on her own path, was able to identify a way of proclamation that would make young people and adults who frequent San Biagio, and the other initiatives she promoted, take the path of a prayerful familiarity with Scripture”, observes her nephew Msgr. Giovanni Giudici, Bishop Emeritus of Pavia, in the afterword.
In the chapter “Encounters”, Sr. Graziella Curti collects the testimonies of intellectual and spiritual friendships collected from the notebooks containing Sr. Maria Pia’s close correspondence with and the ‘illustrious visitors’ received at the hermitage, including the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan Carlo Maria Martini, considered by her ‘teacher and pastor’, and the Italian author Susanna Tamaro, who since her first visit feels San Biagio is “her second home and Sr. Maria Pia, the ‘accomplice’ of her creative processes”.
Sr. Maria Pia and the sisters of the FMA Community, with the proposal of Lectio divina on the path traced by Cardinal Martini, offer those arriving in San Biagio a path within everyone’s grasp to reach the prayer of the heart.
In the preface to this book, Susanna Tamaro writes:
“The ‘spirit of San Biagio’ is made of lightness, the ability to enjoy the smallest things, to welcome even the most lost of people with the attention of a family marked by a non-judgmental love, yet with firmness.”
San Biagio today
The appendix of the book is dedicated to the actual reality today of San Biagio House of Prayer, belonging to the Roman Province of St. John Bosco (IRO), in which the FMA Community carries on the work by continuing the project outlined by Sr. Maria Pia Giudici, attentive to current needs, also dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic.