Homeland of his forebears
Bra is one of the four Piedmontese towns that helped to shape the life and vocation of James Alberione.
Church of St. Andrew – Alberione’s “Mother” Church
The spiritual life of several generations of James Alberione’s maternal and paternal relatives was centered around this church. Many members of both the Alberione and Allocco families were baptized, married and buried here. The parents of James were married in this church and his three older brothers were baptized here.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Flowers – Guardian of mothers and newborn infants
The church was built in the wake of a double miracle: an apparition of the Blessed Mother and the out-of-season flowering of a wild prune tree. The Alberione family venerated and prayed to the Blessed Mother in this Sanctuary and experienced her help on many occasions. Among the numerous votive offerings displayed on the left wall of the old Sanctuary is one that bears the inscription: “In thanksgiving for graces received: Alberione Giovanni, 1898.” James, who was consecrated to Our Lady of the Flowers by his mother both before and after his birth, always had childlike trust in the Blessed Mother. He said that it was she who saved his vocation to the priesthood after he was dismissed from the Seminary of Bra in 1900. In May 1916, he and his first followers made a pilgrimage to this Sanctuary to ask Mary to protect the newborn Congregation. On that occasion, the first group picture of the Typographical School was taken.
The Minor Seminary – “Everything is a grace”
James Alberione spent four years in the seminary of Bra (from 5 Oct. 1896 to 7 April 1900–the day on which the Rector decided it would be better for him to return to his family). We still are not clear as to what this crisis consisted of or how it came about. However, it was a providential event because it prepared the young James for another important stage of his life. In fact, in October 1900 he entered the Seminary of Alba.