The hometowns of Fr. James Alberione and Sr. Thecla Merlo - the places where they grew up and received their formation - and also the places associated with the beginnings of the Pauline Family, are all located in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.
The city of Alba is located in the province of Cuneo. The Pauline Family was born in Alba on 20 August 1914. It is the site of the geographical, historical and charismatic roots of our religious family: After the hour of adoration... the first small house and tiny typography were blessed...
Born from the Host
It was in the Cathedral of Alba, on the memorable night that bridged the 19th and 20th centuries (31 December 1900 and 1 January 1901), that God revealed to the young Alberione what his true vocation in life would be: "Particular enlightenment came from the Host and a greater understanding of the invitation of Jesus: 'Come to me, all of you'." He felt deeply obliged to prepare himself to do something for the Lord and for the people of the new century.(Video by: paoloslavazza)
Sts. Cosmas and Damian Church
A place of fruitful intuitions
In 1913 Canon Francis Chiesa, the spiritual director and wise advisor of the young Alberione, was made the pastor of this church. It was here that our Founder made several important decisions concerning the birth and development of the Pauline Family. This church has special significance for the Daughters of St. Paul because it was here that the first meeting between Fr. Alberione and Teresa Merlo took place on 27 June 1915. During that encounter, Fr. Alberione revealed to Teresa his plan to begin a religious Congregation dedicated to the Good Press.(Video by: paoloslavazza)
The first Daughters of St. Paul moved to this address perhaps as early as September 1915, setting up a "Feminine Workshop" in their residence. Under the guidance of Fr. Alberione and Canon Francis Chiesa and in spite of quite a few problems, the small group was slowly transformed into a community of women religious dedicated to the apostolate of the Good Press. On the ground floor of the building, next door to the workshop, the young women opened a small store containing books and religious objects, which they called The New Book Shop.
The Church of the Divine Master
Spreading a new devotion
The Motherhouse of the Daughters of St. Paul and the Church of the Divine Master are located in Borgo Piave, Alba. Fr. Alberione purchased the land in 1914. On 15 August 1915, Bishop Re gave him permission to build a church on the property, but a series of problems and a lack of funds delayed construction for years. The Society of St. Paul, the Daughters of St. Paul, the Pauline Cooperators and the residents of the Borgo Piave neighborhood all contributed in various ways to concretizing this initiative. The bricks for the building were shaped and fired in the "St. Paul Kiln" by the boys and girls, sisters and seminarians of the Pauline Family, and also many of their lay helpers. In pace with the construction project, everyone gradually came to a more profound understanding of the Pauline spirituality, centered on Jesus Master, and several fundamental aspects of it such as its focus on the Word of God, its totality and its missionary aspect.
Place of foundation
Dismissed from the Seminary of Bra in April 1900, James Alberione weathered the crisis and entered the Seminary of Alba in October of that same year. Here he met the young priest Francis Chiesa, who became his spiritual director - a fact that would have important repercussions on his spiritual life. In the Seminary of Alba, the young Alberione pursued his theological studies and received spiritual formation. He tried to learn from everyone and everything so as to benefit not only himself but also his future initiatives. He got to know many of his fellow-seminarians, some of whom would follow him when he began the "adventure" of founding a new institute.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Moretta
Everything started there
This Marian site was very dear to Fr. Alberione. He often went there as a seminarian, priest and founder to ask Mary for light, strength and help in difficult moments, or else to thank her for her powerful intercession. An event rich in prophetic significance for the Pauline Family took place in this Sanctuary on 12 September 1913: Bishop Re of Alba called Fr. Alberione into the sacristy and asked him to take charge of the diocesan press, in particular the Gazzetta d'Alba (Alba Gazzette), the weekly diocesan newspaper. It was the sign the young Alberione had been waiting for: the hand of God had 2struck the bell," signaling the beginning of his mission.
The Temple of St. Paul
Church of the apostles of communication
In the bulletin, Union of Cooperators for the Good Press, Fr. Alberione announced his intention to build a beautiful church in honor of St. Paul: "The church will be dedicated to St. Paul, the model and patron of the apostolate of the Good Press... Here, prayers will be offered for the mission of the Good Press - a vast field of work... It will be the church of the missionaries of the Good Press." The magnificent Temple, which stands in the midst of the buildings that make up the Motherhouse of the Society of St. Paul, is the heart of the Pauline Family. It took four years of tireless labor to build (1925-1928) and was inaugurated on 28 October 1928.