FATHER TOMMASO LODOVICO MANINI

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CHaprEnI

SEEDS LIGHT OF

On the bicentennial of the birth of Father TommasoLodovico Manini, we, the Daughtersof Divine Providence,are revisiting the sacredrerrain of our origins. Our hearts are filled with emorion and gratitude, in the certainty that those seedsof light are still charged with a vital force and a prophecyfor today. Our origins bear his name, and it is of little imporrance if the biographical information is fragmentaryand at times mysterious. \Uhat counts for us is to know that we had a father, a teacher, an impassioned and tenacious guide, despitethe many deeply-felt contradicrions. !7e are not seeking this father in the past, in a grateful but far-off memory. We know that he is before us, he is near us to help us to read the signs

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of the times and respondto the new proposals of rhe Spirit with that radicalness and fidelity that markedhis whole life. FatherManini wasbom in ReggioEmilia on May 7, lsr13. At the ageof 19 he askedto be admitted into rhe Congregationof the RegularClergy of St. Paul; the tbllowing year he solemnly professedhis relieiousvows in the family of the Bamabites. -\tter finishing his studies of Philosophy and Theolog in Rome, a brief stay in Naples as a teacher of Rhetoric and at the College of San Dalmr:o in Tirrin, he returned to Rome and was electedparish rector of San Carlo ai Catinari. That rvasin 1829.Father Manini was26 and had all the enthusiasm in his heart of a yourh ct-rDS€Cr?tedGod and the charismaticfire of his to Fr-runder:"...the Crucified Christ wiII send Jou to pnxlaim a spiritual uiuacity and the liuing spirit ever;u,here".l In rhe historical center of Rome, the young parish priest soon came into contact with its shocking social and spiritual degradarion: "The districtwas rhe dzn of disorderly commonpeoplewho uied with those of Tiasteuere and Monti for the record in We fierceness". understand aswe continue reading the history of the times, that such "fierceness" ret-erred to the poorest people who were constantly strugglingfor survival.
S. ANroNIo M. Zncc,qRln, LetteraIV, Rome 1975,p. 50.

Every day Father Manini would walk though the streetsthat come out into Campo dei Fiori, the roads that led to the nearby PiazzaVenezia; he would penetrate into the most hidden alleys where the squawking and cries of the helpless children rang out. His heart shudderedat the sight; he could not resign himself to just look; he could not limit himselfto preaching; felt he had to give hls life. he In imitation of Jesus,dead and arisen, which constitutes the heart of Pauline spirituality, he knew he was called to "lose his own life" and he prepared himself to accept the project of love which Providencewould reveal to him.

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At the time he could neither imagine the scope norforesee its price, but there he was,immersedin prayer, in the shadow of a confessional. J,rst few steps from San Carlo, in the parish " community of Santa Lucia alle Botteghe Oscure,a family lived on whom God's predilection resred. It was a simple, hard-working family, a profoundly Christian family that lived the Word of God and tmsted in Him. The youngesr daughter made her First Communion in the Pia Casa del Bambino Gesu near St. Mary Major and she completed her sndies in the school of the Maestre Pie Venerini at the Arco dei Ginnasi. in her oarish and the nearby churches she was given charge with the greatest confidence of catechesis for the little children. Her name was Elena Bettini and she was fifteen yearsold.

CHaprrn II

ROADS THATMEET

In the first half of the nineteenth cenrury, we cannot saythat schoolswere lacking in Rome. But times were tough and many things had changed following the historical events we all know. The schools were run by a liberal and fundamentally secular State which also intervened in the relief, charitable and educational works that belonged to the Church. The school Father Manini dreamed of for the poorest little girls in his parish was very different. The school of Providence had to be completely free of charge, free from influential persons or interestedprotectors; it had to be a school without those human supporters who, sooner or later, created dependency. It had to be a school that

:repared for hfe and thus also for typically :eminine rvork in view of the family. Fut u-ith u'har meanswould he achievethis? And '.rhat ptrrver could he count on? He entrusted -ie.e questionseach morning to the Mother of Drr-rneProvidence and watched for the signs of G.rl's will along the paths of everydaylife. We do ..s lntr\\' if he confided all this to anyone. Some

projectsthat are "built on air" arenaturally avoided or ridiculed. Human prudence,which is always calculating,requireslimits. Father Manini was roo young to be taken seriously. Who would get invoived ln an adventureof this size?But God's eyeswere set on a simple and small crearurewho was completely open to Grace,and he waswaiting for the hour of their appointmenr to do great things with her. Samuelwassupposed consecrate to one of the sons of Jesseas King, but none of them were pleasingto God. Only the youngesr son waslefr, a slight little boy,who took the flock to graze."Arise and anointhim; it is he". One day,we do not know when, asthe Roman sky suddenlyturned dark and it startedpouring, Elena Bettini found refugeright there in the church of San Carlo. The rain continued, so she walked into the large beautiful church and stopped ro pray before the sweet image of the Mother of Divine Providence. Then she saw rhe small confessional light and knek down. "Elenacould. ignore charmthat. not the emanated from that paternal, majesricfigure of the fully-grown religious who was both auerseto the worl.d'sfashions and din, secluded prayer and study,and yet in precise\for thisreason- socloseto thespiritual needs of souls.ShehadcertainlJ attendedthe seruices atthe Barnabitesof San Coilo, which were often solemn, attendedby both great and modestpersonages. She

by of hecwd least somecycles preaching at mrlir h41'e thls luse religiousand perhaps crasenoughto irnprint and --,nrhe \oung womlrl7'ssoula feeling of respect religiousof San Carlo were ;cpndnbility which the with who associated them, in oi ,-;rpuble cwousing those n"J oi u'hichobuiousproof wes the Catinari parish house,a cenacleof cuhure and piety -inJ relrgrous century".' hraughoutthe nineteenth Elena Bettini did not know that it was Father but \{anini in the confessional, sheopenedup her heart to him. Being an expert spiritual director, *re parish rector noticed the girl's transparency anJ inner freedom; he recognizedthe signs of in GoJ's passage her life and felt a new hope grow in him. -Llrhough \rery young and inexperienced,Elena Benini sharedhis samepassionfor education;she hal a dream in her heart and would soon realize rhat there was Someone waiting for her. 8, Er-enthing happenedso quickly: on September Luisa lill. threeyoungwomenViolante Parigiani, the \{isliacci and ElenaBettini received habit from Ferher TornmasoManini which would distinguish rhem as "Daughtersof Divine Providence". F..r the time being they were "the young nuns of San Carlo", and on November 21st of that same
povere Tiastevere i= -..-- \ 1. P.rc.lNo, ht cann per le f anciulle fra ger oper : . {-.r:rlr : il sor e deLI' a di Elpnn Betani.

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year, the first school was opened with them, the schoolthey wanted so much. FatherManini found a house, albeit poor and unadorned, and there were rooms for the school although they lacked many necessary things. "Via dei Falegncnni a sight is ouerflowingwith common tuomen with their illmannered and noisydnughters" But very soon an .t even greater sight filled the people from the neighborhood with wonder: "The sight of the numerolts,morermd more disciplined girlswho school attendedSanCarlo everydrrycaused eoJen greeter &rr Iiking for the new institution so that uerJ soon, because the Inck of rooms, regisuation of had to be closed" .a There was one observeramong the people who camefrom the nearbyCollegio Romano, together with somefriends, just to enjoy "fhe edifyingsight of theyoungnunsleadingalongline glrls of into chtnch". It wasMsgr.RaffaeleSirolli, our "Angei Consoler", as Elena Bettini would call him, the greatestand most belovedbenefactorof the Institute. A year had not passed since the foundation when Father Manini informed the Holy Father about it directly: "Under the protection of Mosr Holy Mary of Providence, the parishof SanCarlo ai Catinan, a in
' L. M. MaNzrNyI-a Serua Dio SuorMmia Ebna Bernnl,Rome di 1946,p. 14. 4L. M. MaNztNt, cit., p. 75. op.

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rdrml has beenerected. Three personssetthe stone and in only one of rtis builting. . . They joined together $irit ui with only one heart they setto work. The grrld-J lave setfor themselues theeducation the is of mosf abandoned and endangering or Wrest, rejects.At present endmgnen girk: in brief, society's thsre are eighttearhersto whom another ten or twel.ve uwlir uery much to be alded who haue already so rc4rcstcd. They saw and see, with inexpressible corwlalirn, tJvir piousintention bles by G od in the sed g1rls, gathered from public ttttrl wretched,miserable up fororrnhs ar roads...who attend their schools,are grdually shawingthnttheyarelearning,together with of of God, tlrcpractice Chnstianvirtues...". fem

Cnaprrn III

EVERYONE NOT ABLETO UNDERSTAND IS

Every work of God experiences the desert, trial, toil, temptation and often persecution. Father Manini saw the birth of Via dei Falegnami,No. 58, the first free school in Rome for the poorest girls. He drew up its program, set the weekly schedule and divided up the tasks and responsibilities. He was already rhinking about a Rule for the small religious community. The Superior was Volante Parigiani who had all the requisitesand was a few yearsolder than the 18 year old Elena Bettini. SisterMaria Violante was a woman of prayer,a strong woman capableof any sacrifice.a woman who loved. "At Inst a school,although brutd new, hns been openedby sometearherscalled 'of Proq)idence' who

.;,.. :,. : contmunity rule thnthasstill with a particular '-. : :.err approved.Their Institutionaimsat teaching work and the first :" - -rrls religton, ql,omen's want to bepoor andfor ..:".;rrr-.. and rheyabsolutely -..::;ng m the world wiII they take the slightesr -- ":::rr-i.rriort theirefforts" .' for .- iheir elementary schools "filled with 200 '-.;::-r,-.", and day thel'soonaddednursery schools :. -.:.eries. i:-n-L rhe tirst rulesoutlined by FatherManini, the r -rrtrse .'lf the Work was clear: "While the Sisters r.:., r,ill be admittedto this Institutewill striueto -..,-.-rr-.stat united to the Lord through constant r--:'..T. ihel ruill make unceasingefforts for the .r:-.;:,ri ntd temporal . benefit thepoor g1rls" of ^: rLiil not be possible open a house without to there poor girls, . i:-::.i-.hing entirely an free school for --':; :h: poorerrhey are, themore theywillbe entitled : :: ,iimirred". ---. - tbr the admission of young women to - :.ecrated life, in anticipatingthe times,Father l"l:-lni Jid not askfor a dowry. The poorestgirls ::-l al:tr he accepted,provided they i-:t..nsrrated, like the others, an authentic
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l-i n'ever.in seeingthe number of young women ::--''r' Jai' bv day, despite the rigorous poverty of ::-r Institute and the full-time work, Father
- ,, \1--i.cHtrt, ir-r 1842publication. an

realizedthat he needed help and urgently asked for a housefor the Novitiate. In 1833he wrore to the Holy Father and expressed heart'sdesire: his "Knowing that todq for many Joungwomencalledto a secludedlife is outside world the lackof means a rhe greatimpediment, in and that in mostmon&steries this city, indeed in all of them, thosewho are born commoners excluded,(the Daughtersof Di+tine are Prouidence) and trustingin God'sinfiniteprouidence, looking only at the proof of virrue, do not askfor dowries and do not rejectanyone. A monastery really Lacking is all which embraces the conditions and doesnot look at fortune, where the .. only patrimonywill be a sincere Ltocation. goodmouesme to This reflectionand the sightof this begYourHohness a pb.ce,ewen it is smalland if for lacksconveniences, which to put. the postulantsas in in a Nouitiate, and to let them experience their uocation . there" Providenceusedmysterious hands or well-known facesto give abundantly,but it alwaysleft great room for the young nuns' sacrifices and privations. Sometimes Providence was silent so that faith would grow and trust would increase. One morning, after days of painful waiting and unanswered prayers, when the workers were threatening to stop the work on the school, right after celebratingMass,Father Manini saw a small forgotten parcel in the sacristy:it was the sum neededto Davthe workers.

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Sometimes the breath of evil became bloodcurdling, but only to make the work grow, abandoned solely to the Father's loving Providence. The Father who covers the fields with flowers and doesnot forget the birds in the skv.took care of them. Cowards would cry, "How is it possible found a to work like this recklessly, without a pennJ, with no supportl" "An Institutebuik on air...with no one's support, destined crumble" is to . This would have happened,but the real paternity of the work went back to Divine Providence. Therefore,it is understandable that Elena Bettini, at the proposal to open a house, the second Mother house of the Institute, in an ill-reputed district like Testaccio,simply said, "This is a work for us". She had learned from Father Manini to counr solely on the Providential Presenceof God the Father, to do His will with daughterly love, to experiencethe poverty of the leastones by being always at their service in the most devastated places. In the letter dated 1836 regarding a proposed foundation, Father Manini would not hide the fact that the Institute was founded "on surch uncertain bases", but he immediately explained: "1 say uncertain accordingto man - but a most certain, most solid, unfailable, eternal foundation according to God. Howeuer, with great prudence

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basetheiriudgnent on the snetimes rhe Superiors . fornm andrctonthelatter".
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CrnprsnIV YOU BELONG TO GOD

One day, when he had to present a brief 'identikit" of his daughters, he gave them onlY
two characteristics: "They are poor...md they litte ' louingProuidence" to erfirely abandoned theFather's of our origins rests on this' The whole force 'Blessedare thosewho trust in God ad do not think aburt tmnonow, but sleepconfidentlyin the arms of .u dw l-ard'sPaternalProuidence" The wonder lies here, the secret is found only in faith, but not everyone is able to understand this. One evening in October 1835, Father Manini, suddenly aged by the weight of what he was about to tell his daughters, enteredthe little houseon Via dei Falegnami. Perhaps, in the hopes of ending that "pusecution whichhadurdub tned the holy Fowdn' s patience"T, he had askedto be exonerated from the office of parish rector, but he had to leave for Turin. The pages that record those days are heartrendering. Suddenly, after only three years, while still in the midst of storms and questions,he, "the prouiAer,dw father, the cunfort, the gtidp"a was no longer there.
6Letter ftom Vercelli dated October 28' 1847 7/8 From the memoirs of Via dei Faleenami.

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Father Manini had already entrusted them to the his SuperiorGeneralof his Congregation;he begged contreresto supportthe work which he caredabout more than life; he paid the rent for three yearsin advanceand had to leave. S4neredid he find the words of comfort for himself and his daughters if not in faith? "The thaught of lrn*g n go awayfrom youwouldbethe firstand main rlrorrglrt thnt couU" sadden me if the Inrd, in His in me goodness, not moq)e n put aLImy hopes Him" . &d highest moment of "gluinglife" He rvasliving the and rvanted to state humbly that he was not the Father, but just an instrument in the hands of Pror-idence.It wasGod'swill that countedand he crruld accept it, even without undersmnding it. On this rock he had founded the Institute, the name he chose had to be precisely "Daughters of Divine Providence".These daughtershad such a hearrfelt desire to do God's will, above all and despiteeverything,that until our times, the echo .'rf this abbreviation that opened every letter has come down to us: PPPADDV (for the most perfect fulfillment of Dvine Will). That eveningthe moment had come to give witness rith his life and with a heart that wasbreaking' -{tter blessingthem one by one, Father Manini's parring words stayed in their hearts: "You do not to nor L"k^s n yotaselues to enJone else:you belong God".

"The loorcyou hnuefor the Lord will teachand moue you in your generous undertaking that you will be so able to say with the sacredbride: My loq.ted is one entirelymine anA I am entirelyHis, and I do nothing exceptto please Him" . "Befaithful to the Bndegroom, in courageous aduersity , goodof yorn neighbor. Let rhere fiIlzd with zealfcn the be chmity and union unong you, chmityfor eweryone. Keepchmityin mind" now and" foreuer".n Providencechooseswhomever it wants, and every mission has its own time: some are called to sow, some to inigate the soil, some to gather the fruits. Some are called at the first hour, someat noon, and somein the evening. Time belongsto Providence, and it is not the length of life that counrs,bur rhe intensity of the love that is given gratuitouslyafter receiving it gratuitouslyfrom God's Heart. Do not be afraid of tomorrow; do not be wonied aboutthis or that. The Fatherknowswhat you need: "Lookat hebirds in the sl<J. Theyda notsowor reapcn gatlwr into banr; yet yow heauenly Fatlwr feedsthem. Are you not worth mrtrh mcnethnn theyme? Can any of you, fcn aII his worrying, aAdone sinfu cubit n his sPanof life? And why wcnryabout cbthingl Think of thefbwers growingin the fields;theyneuerhnueto wark yu or spm;)et I lssLLre that not euenSolomon all his m regalia wa robedlikeorw of these.Now rf that is how
oL. M. MeNzrNt, op. cit.,p. 17.

ndaymd is in rlw Gd ctotlws grrss thefiellswhich here wiILhBrct rrnrch inn ti fimare tomorrow, dvanm foith? Sodn rct knk after you, Joumenof Little mrne me nun)'; dn rnt say,'Whnt wen eat?Whntmewen who we drh;ftlHow&re nbe clnthedl'his tlwpagms Fadwr things'Yowheauenly on these s tlwir hem-s aLL yourced themaLL' Setyow hearsrm His hronas ad Wrgdt; first,ud on His nghteousness, all these 'to willbeg'venyoua well" oller t)'ungs
who are To peopletoday and yesterday, about the future alwaYsconcemed and too often feel anxietY, anguish and trePidation about something theY are always lacking to

continues to offer this wonderful imageof the birds in the sky and the flowers in the field. The Daughtersof Divine Providence are called to be creatures hope and trust, creatures of who entrust themselvesto the Father'sloving Providencewith the simplicity of children. The priority searchfor the Kingdom of God frees the heart from all anxiety about the future, from any worries about today's efforts, and creates a "resefved" inner spacethat no concerns can reach because it is inhabited by the Providential Presence God. of This was the heart of the new charisma which the Holy Spirit was giving to his Church in the hands of Father Tommaso Manini and Mother Elena Bettini.

be h"ppy, Jesus
'oMt6,26'33.