Alì Terme (Italy). May 15, 2021 marks the 120th  anniversary of Mary Help of Christians Church in Alì Terme (Messina), today the Marian Diocesan Shrine, where the mortal remains are of Blessed Maddalena Morano, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians.

Mary Help of Christians Church was built thanks to the generosity of Maria Caterina Scoppa, Marquise of Cassibile, who thus fulfilled a vow made to the Virgin Mary. The first stone was laid on 28 February 1900, by Blessed Michael Rua the first successor of St. John Bosco, Founder of the Salesian Congregation. He celebrated Holy Mass on the foundations under construction on 16 April. After the work was completed on 15 May 1901, the Church was blessed by Fr. Giovanni Marenco, Procurator of the Pious Salesian Society at the Holy See.

The devotion to Mary Help of Christians introduced in the town by the first FMA, still strong in the area today, thus had a place and the feast of May 24 could be celebrated with a greater turnout of faithful.

On 5 November 2018, Msgr. Giovanni Accolla, Archbishop of Messina, elevated Mary Help of Christians Church to a Marian Diocesan Shrine by virtue of the historicity of the place, of the continuous pilgrimages to the urn of Blessed Maddalena Morano whose spiritual,  educational, and  formative value  for  youth is recognized.

On 15 May 2021 at 11:00 (Italian time), on the 120th anniversary of the Marian Diocesan Shrine “Mary Help of Christians”, in praise of God for the gift of Mother Maddalena Morano, the solemn Eucharistic Concelebration will be held presided by the Provincial of the Salesians of Don Bosco of the Sicilian Province of San Paolo (ISI), Fr. Giovanni d’Andrea, and by the Rector of the Shrine Fr. Tonino Romano. Present were the Provincial, Sr. Maria Pisciotta, the Educating Community of Mother Maddalena Morano Province (ISI), and  civil authorities. The celebration will be broadcast live on the  Facebook Page of the Shrine.

Blessed Maddalena Morano, born in Chieri (Turin) on 15 November 1847, arrived in Sicily in 1881. In 1890, as Provincial of Sicily, she arrived in Alì Terme where she set up the oratory, a sewing and embroidery workshop for girls, the school, and the novitiate. In a time marked by social, cultural, and religious poverty, Mother Maddalena Morano “becomes Sicilian among the Sicilians” and in a few years the small town became the heart of the expansion of the charism of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Sicily.

The educational vision of Mother Morano and her being a woman open to the signs of the times were decisive in the Sicilian Church. Cardinal Benedetto Dusmet of the Diocese of Catania, appreciated her resourcefulness and exemplary commitment to the formation of women in a historical moment in which anticlerical laws limited the social actions of the Church. In continuity, Cardinal Giuseppe Francica Nava entrusted her with the work of Parish Catechisms and the Pastoral Formation of the clergy, which she carried out with courage and competence.

On 26 March 1908, Mother Maddalena Morano died. In 1939 the urn of Blessed Maddalena Morano was brought from the chapel of the FMA in the cemetery of Alì Terme to the Church of Mary Help of Christians.

Pope John Paul II proclaims her Blessed on 5 November 1994 in Catania. On the occasion of her beatification, a chapel was built in the left transept of the church where the urn of Blessed Maddalena Morano is exposed for the veneration of the faithful. On 8 October 2017, Mother Morano was proclaimed “Patroness of catechists and educators of the diocese of Messina”.


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