Rome (Italy). On 13 May 2024, the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians with the whole Salesian Family celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Mary Domenica Mazzarello (1837 – 1881), Co-founder of the FMA Institute, who proved to be a mother for her daughters in Mornese and through letters, prayer, and offering, those overseas and in the places where the FMA had established themselves.

To the community of Carmen de Patagonia, she wrote, “Oh! how far you are from me, my poor daughters, but take courage, we are very close in spirit. Yes, I assure you that I have you always present in my heart, indeed I could say that you are always the first in my prayers” (Letter 37). The recipients are Sister Angela Vallese, Sister Angela Cassulo, Sister Giovanna Borgna, and Sister Caterina Fina. In Mornese, they shared with Mother Mazzarello those years of which they later said, “How beautiful life was”.

In fact, life in Mornese was hard, so much so that Don Bosco decided to transfer the community to Nizza Monferrato, but the presence of Mother Mazzarello made the effort easier. “She does not worry about herself; all her care and attention are for others,” we find written in the Cronistoria (II,285).

Her motherliness, her faith, and her serenity reached the most unexpected subtleties, those that conquered the hearts most closed. Mother Mazzarello expressed a delicate and attentive closeness, but always oriented to the integral growth of the other, to make her capable of giving even in sacrifice.

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians have always perceived the maternal closeness of Mother Mazzarello. Some facts, narrated by the Servant of God Sister Antonietta Bohm (1907 – 2008), in her “Missionary Memoirs”, written in 2000, testify to the “extraordinary” closeness of Mother.

Sister Antoinette arrived in Junín de los Andes in September 1941 as Animator. The community consisted of six sisters and sixty indigenous internees. One illustrious pupil lived there: Blessed Laura Vicuña. But the house was extremely poor and badly reduced to such an extent that the engineer who went to inspect it said, “Here Mary Help of Christians protects you marvelously.” Finally, the Provincial and her Council decided to begin the construction of a new building.

Sister Antonietta wrote, “I was struck by the great devotion of the Sisters to our Blessed Mother Mazzarello. They felt her protection in a palpable way… I used to lock all the doors at night. It happened that one night, I saw a Sister standing under the water cistern that was high up. There was half a meter of snow in the yard. I asked two Sisters to go to call the Sister to come in so that I could lock all the doors. I looked for an older Sister and a younger one. And what happens?… She was only one meter away from them when they see that the Sister is lifted about half a meter from the snowy ground. The two Sisters knelt down and enthusiastically confined themselves to saying: ‘Oh, Mother!’ I see the Sisters coming back. I saw her from afar. Then she left. They repeated this fact over and over again, very excited. They knew that our holy Mother Mazzarello had a particular affection for this Community.”

“On another occasion there was no food, no corn flour; the only food we ate three times a day. And what happened? Days and days passed and the goods did not arrive. The Community entrusted itself to Mother Mazzarello. Manuelito [a worker] prepared 7 wagons with horses and with 7 men they went to find the merchandise. On their way back to Catanlill, they left the horses free to eat as they lay down under the wagons. They began to drink one glass of wine after another. Suddenly, an FMA Sister appeared and scolded them. The Sister came with a little girl; everything was assembled, the wagons were ready and they arrived in Junín. After crossing the gate, Manuelito sees the image of Mother Mazzarello and asks the Sister of the kitchen, ‘What is the name of this Sister? She called us to order in Catanlil; she made us look for the horses. We were tired and we stopped and she appeared. It is her! But she came with a girl.’ And Sister Maria told him, ‘She is our Holy Foundress, but she is already dead.’ Manuelito’s hair turned white from the impression, right at that moment.”

In those “Memoirs”, Sister Antoinette explains the difficulties and obstacles faced in Junín de los Andes. The Sisters and girls share life, with all its labors, and a journey of holiness in Salesian joy. Exactly as it had happened in Mornese and then in Nizza Monferrato. Mother Mazzarello, therefore, became close to the community of Junín de los Andes, testifying to her motherhood and encouraging them to persevere in faith, hope, and charity.

The Saints meet in heaven and often also on earth. They are interested in those who invoke them and actively take care of them. And Faith allows you to see them… next door. (Gaudete et exsultate, 7)


  1. Un Gracias a quien pudo transcribir está presencia de M. Mazzarello. Ella nos haga descubrirla en lo cotidiano!

  2. Ricambio gli auguri a voi per estenderli ad ogni F.M.A. anche la più lontana. Imitiamo la sua confidenza in Maria Ausiliatrice e il suo spirito Mornesino vivrà ancora oggi tra noi. Buona Festa!


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