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Blessed Teresa Grillo Michel, from Marengo to the Third World

The Palace of Post in Alessandria is decorated with a beautiful mosaic by Gino Severini (Cortona, April 7, 1883 – Paris, February 26, 1966): the futurist collage enhances the intercontinental distance restricted by advanced equipment and can be the allegory of any journey. The dawn for the activity of artisans of own future and others (the emperor Napoleon, the brigand Giuseppe Mayno, the senator Felice Bensa, the Blessed Teresa Michel) arose in Marengo on the countryside of Fraschéta.

The human adventure of Teresa Grillo widow Michel (Alessandria, 25 September 1855 – 25 January 1944), former lady-in-waiting at the court of Margherita di Savoia (the first queen consort of Italy) it is marked by abjuration of bourgeois life to embrace religiosity to assist the destitute of any age. The fifth daughter of Giuseppe (primary at the Alexandrian civil hospital) and Antonietta (descended from the ancient and aristocratic Parvopassu family) was born at the Cavallerotta estate (so defined because it settled on the area liberated by the Habsburg cavalry dispersed by the French militia hardened at the battle of Marengo and today a place consecrated to pilgrimage) and receives the first sacrament from the priest Lorenzo Molfettani (the Church of the Nativity of Mary in Spinetta Marengo houses the act of baptism and the glass mosaic dedicated to Blessed Mother Michel). The marriage (August 2, 1877) unites Teresa to Capitàno Giovanni Michel: the cohabitation, extended from Sicily to Campania, is serene despite the absence of heirs. Mourning shakes the routine: the bride, already troubled by the death of Giovanni struck by the insolation suffered in Naples (June 13, 1891), seized the faith at the Sacred Heart Shrine of Alexandria and then joined the Third Franciscan Order (January 14, 1893) and gave the sacred vestment extracted from the wedding dress to the Capuchin friars. Teresa, moved by the exemplary life of Giuseppe Agostino Benedetto Cottolengo (Bra, 3 May 1786 – Chieri, 30 April 1842) the Turin social saint author of the house dedicated to Divine Providence, assaulted the family heritage to welcome the destitute to the Cavallerotta estate. The work of assistance provided by the Piccolo Ricovero Divina Provvidenza (the structure opened in the centre of Alexandria from 15 October 1894) also grew and received concrete help from the most pious women. The activity proceeded and Teresa abdicated the lay state enjoined to the diocese to wear the monastic robe (January 8, 1899) and establish the women’s religious institute of pontifical right ”Little Sisters Divine Providence’, defined by the acronym P.S.D.P., along with eight (Here the watchful eye falls on the cyclical number for the Napoleonic epic) collaborators. The congregation P.S.D.P. was favored by the solid patronage of Teresio Borsalino (Alexandria, April 1, 1867 – March 29, 1939) expressed by the hospice of four hundred beds built and donated by the capital of industry and senator for life. Today the group of three hundred religious members of the brotherhood dedicated to prayer and medical and social care runs fifty facilities (retirement homes and orphanages) located from Italy to India and from Africa to Argentina and Brazil. The extension on South American territory also exalted the bilateral and ultra-Fifty years created by the P.S.D.P. congregation and the male religious institute of pontifical right ”Piccola Opera Divina Provvidenza” founded by the priest Luigi Orione (Pontecurone, 23 June 1872 – Sanremo, 12 March 1940). The last Atlantic navigation of Mother Michel, Superior General P.S.D.P. from creation to death, dates back to 1928. The Alexandrian nun was beatified in Turin (24 May 1998) by Pope John Paul II and from the afterlife protects the unemployed, children and infertile couples.