"The house of Saint Rose would also be a living reflection of the breadth of horizon and openness to all, flowing from the missionary spark of the Institute”.
(In the Shadow of Rome, Ch. IV, p.97)
It is with joy that we share with you, dear Sisters, some key events of our journey here, at Saint Rose of Viterbo, of Grottaferrata. History teaches us that Mary of the Passion wanted this beautiful building which today surprises our visitors because of the beautiful and huge structure, which is truly a welcoming house. Sr. Luigia Vittoria Alini and Sr. AnneMarie Foujols, F.M.M. both of happy memory, confirmed this fact in the introduction that they minutely elaborated on and which recalls: “Without exhausting the subject, the fourth chapter retraces the intense activity which characterised the house in Grotta from the beginnings. We see the relationships which strengthened the bonds with the Franciscan Order, the cordial opening out to the priests and religious of the neighbourhood as well as to many lay people who came for a short stay or a simple visit. ”.
We are aware of all the steps undertaken by Mary of the Passion, as well as all the setbacks that she had before installing herself here. Nevertheless, she sensed that these hardships would bear abundant fruit. In retrospect, a glance confirms the continuity with the ideal traced by Mother Foundress. And the various volumes of the Journal of the house of Saint Rose kept faithfully by the sisters to whom this task so delicate and important, was confided are an inexhaustible source of the daily life of Saint Rose’s house. Every year, when the sisters of the province of Italy participate in their annual community retreat, it is always a great joy to welcome them. Several have made their novitiate at Grottaferrata and consequently are the fruit so much desired by Mother Foundress.
"Fruits in Abundance" (Grottaferrata)
It suffices to spend a week end at St. Rose to realise the maximum usefulness of the big chapel as well as the other chapels and rooms. Different groups come for the day, and often seek a moment of solitude to give themselves to prayer. The Scouts coming from Rome or from the Roman Castles cleverly set up their tents.
What is beautiful also is to see families from the “Nazareth” Movement which we will mention later. However we want to underline that all the activities brought no hindrance to the life of the Sisters of the Infirmary. All this overflow of life was brought about, thanks to Sister Josefina ARRIETA, F.M.M. who achieved a wonderful bit of work in restructuring the rooms which today bears abundant fruit. In this article we take the liberty to choose two salient and interesting facts which took place in 2016 and 2017: the day organised by the young people for the sisters in the infirmary, on the initiative of our parish priest, Fr James Edassery, and a word on the preparation for Christmas, as a community, during Advent 2016. Otherwise there is nothing special concerning our life at Grottaferrata. We live from day to day whatever the Lord expects of each of us. Total abandonment to the Lord witnessed by our sisters in the infirmary is a concrete expression of the beauty of our F.M.M. life lived in all its depth.
A recreation evening was organised on the 6th November 2016 by the parish priest of Saint Pius X Church, Fr. James Edassery, a young Indian priest who is very dynamic and enterprising. His first objective was uniquely for our Sisters in the infirmary, but finally the whole community benefitted by this initiative! Fr. James first brought together a group of young people who are not necessarily from the parish of St. Pius X, and with them he prepared a programme consisting of songs and skits. We were together in St. Raphael’s Hall. The peak of this evening was the invitation that Fr. James gave to each sister to share briefly, her journey in the Institute.
We appreciated this initiative very much and considered it a real vocation promotion! These young people listened very attentively and asked many pertinent questions. Fr. James does not lose any opportunity to visit our Sisters when he is passing through.
Sisters Rosa Petriliggeri, Giovanna Fasulo, Mara, staff of the infirmary
On the 6th December 2016 it was a very good and beautiful occasion to have Fr. Christofo Amansi, O.F.M., Guardian of the Aracoeli, as animator of the day of prayer and reflection during Advent.
As a good Franciscan, Father prepared a very rich talk in which he showed how our Seraphic Father St.Francis had the inspiration to celebrate the feast of the Nativity in Greccio, thus introducing the crib for the first time, giving the opportunity to welcome, contemplate and celebrate the humility of a God who did not hesitate to espouse himself to humanity in every way except sin. Fr. Cristoforo helped to us pray in an extraordinary way. It was certainly the fruit of his own experience.
As for our family of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, we remember the importance of the Ara Coeli in the life of our Foundress. Missionary of Mary in Madurai, Mary of the Passion came to Rome towards the end of 1876 to have her little group recognised by Pope Pius IX, and she went to the Aracoeli, attracted by the Santo Bambino. When she returned to Rome in 1880 to meet Cardinal Simeoni, who had been appointed recently as Prefect of Propaganda, Mary of the Passion then continued her pilgrimage in the diocese of Saint Brieuc where she established her first foundation in France.
It was finally at the Ara Coeli, on her third stay in Rome, in June 1882, when she took the decisive step in the history of the young Institute. In the course of this year 1882, a year blessed by the Lord, it was at the Aracoeli that Mary of the Passion was welcomed with her daughters into the Franciscan family.
Very Reverend Father Bernardino of Portogruaro took her for his daughter and gave her as spiritual director, Reverend Father Raphael Delarbre d’Aurillac. Mother Foundress often went to the Aracoeli to receive advice from her director, Father Raphael Delarbre. She expressed to Father Raphael her love and esteem for this place, and wrote on 15th May 1890:
“[…] our dear old Aracoeli. I shall always love this place even though I have suffered so much there !That will not prevent me from loving it more than any other place in Rome, because it is not the Ara Coeli that made me suffer, but, on the contrary, it has helped me to suffer! ” .
From Friday, 12 May to Sunday 14th May, at the request of Sr. Rosella Baima, mistress of novices, we received a group of three future lay missionaries: two young men, Gianluca and Francesco, and a young girl, Pamela. We welcomed them with joy, in our house, because of the repairs in the novitiate.
These young people are preparing for a missionary experience, probably in Morocco. Their first plan was to go to Sri Lanka, but seeing the high cost of the journey, they preferred Morocco, if all goes well. They are full of gratitude for the welcome received from us. They were accompanied by our sisters: Sr. Rebecca (still a novice), Sr. Ella Somé, Sr. Shiromin Vithanage, Sr. Silvana Gerosa and Sr. Rosella Baima. They will come again in June this year. If God wills, Sr. Lucienne Petit has been invited to share her missionary experience in North Africa with them.
We pray for all these generous young people, so that they may listen to the Spirit of the Lord who speaks in the depths of their hearts.
Community of Saint Rose of Grotta and their leader Sr Mboma Nzenzili Lucie