Rome (Italy). “Like Leaven in Bread. The Word of God in the Life of Mary Domenica Mazzarello” is the title of the book, edited by Ha Fong Maria Ko and Eliane Petri, FMA, published in the year 2022 by Palumbi Editions in the Series Paths of the Studies Center on the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Pontifical Faculty of Education Sciences “Auxilium”.

Some questions have opened up fascinating paths for reflection and research. Mary Domenica Mazzarello, a humble woman who lived in the nineteenth century, in the simple context of a small rural town, what relationship could she have, or did she have, with the Word of God? Is it possible that she, who was denied the privilege of direct access to the biblical text, could be permeated by the Word of God, being a ‘living Gospel’?

And again: what connotation can characterize her ‘living exegesis of the Word of God’: for the divine gift of wisdom, for her singular sensitivity and simplicity of heart, for the holiness matured in everyday life, for the ‘feminine genius’ of which she is the emblem, Mary Domenica Mazzarello is attracted by the Spirit towards particular steps or evangelical aspects, which have become typical traits of her spiritual physiognomy? Does her evangelical experience continue to radiate, to prolong itself alive, fresh, and generative in the FMA?

“By going through these questions with enthusiasm and simplicity, we have arrived at this book”, explain the editors.

The text collects the contributions of eight FMA authors, belonging to different cultural areas, and is enriched by the delicate drawings of an FMA artist, Sr. Alba Vernazza. It consists of four parts: the first is from a historical perspective; the second biblical-theological; the fourth biblical-liturgical; while the third aims to ascertain the biblical presence in the life and writings of Mary Domenica Mazzarello.

“It might have seemed obvious from the beginning that the Word of God was ‘alive and effective’ in Mary Domenica Mazzarello. Having noticed it with greater awareness and having tried to document it, even if in a limited way, fills us with joy, amazement, and gratitude. We hope that this small contribution, born on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, may be an incentive to contemplate the beauty of the first FMA in the wonderful orbit of divine revelation”, the introduction concludes.

Mother Chiara Cazzuola writes in the presentation:

“’The title ‘As Leaven in Bread’ immediately puts it in relation with the evangelical metaphor. The kingdom of God ‘is like leaven, which a woman took and mixed in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened’ (Lk 13: 20- 21). Put into the dough, the leaven is no longer seen, but its action is effective and is found in the fragrance of the bread. Thus, for Mary Domenica Mazzarello, the Word of God was the leaven in her that made her bread broken for the hunger of the Sisters and young women entrusted to her by God and Mary Help of Christians.

Today Mother Mazzarello invites us to continue the journey ‘with a big and generous heart’ (L 47.12) on the path that leads the Institute to rediscover and awaken the vocational fruitfulness of its origins. I wish all the people who read this book to pause, like Mary Domenica, in listening to the Word of God that resounds in her life, and to allow themselves to be infected by her authentic and profound, attractive and congenial holiness”.


  1. Grazie alle Sorelle autrici per il dono del libro “Come lievito nel pane” a compimento del 150mo di fondazione dell’Istituto. Leggendo la presentazione su questo nostro sito, rilevo che e’ di contenuto molto significativo, arricchito anche da illustrazioni ‘stile sr. Alba Vernazza’. Forse e’ stato gia’ inviato nelle ispettorie e comunita’, ne attendo la copia, penso sia atteso anche dalle altre sorelle che hanno apprezzato molto i 2 testi precedenti sulle Costituzioni e la Forza delle radici, gia’ tradotti in lingua Thai.
    Il Signore e la Vergine nostra Madre continuino a donare sapienza evangelica e salesiana a queste sorelle e ad altre chiamate a svolgere questa missione nel nostro istituto.


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