The little town of Castagnito lies between Alba and Asti. Maria Teresa Merlo was born here on 20 February 1894. Her father Hector and mother Vincenza were her first teachers. The village school only went up to the third grade, so Teresa had to go to a nearby town to continue her studies. Because the daily trip was too much of a strain on her delicate health, her parents hired a woman to teacher her privately. This tutor enriched not only Teresa’s mind but also her spirit. When she finished her academic education, Teresa learned the art of dressmaking and embroidery and then opened her own sewing school. This was what she was doing at the time she met Fr. Alberione.
Birthplace of Teresa Merlo The house in which Maestra Thecla was born and in which she lived for 21 years was bought by her grandfather in the early 1800’s. In 1989, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of her death, the Daughters of St. Paul renovated the house and transformed it into a place of prayer and hospitality for those seeking closer contact with M. Thecla’s roots and family life.
St. John the Baptist Parish Teresa was baptized, received her first communion and was confirmed in this church. Here she attended daily Mass and taught catechism and music up to the day she made her momentous decision to follow Fr. Alberione.