On Sunday, 12 April, the Daughters of St. Paul led a pilgrimage on foot from Castagnito to Alba in memory of Venerable Thecla Merlo, who was born in Castagnito and became one of the first followers of Fr. James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family.
A hundred years ago (27 June 1915, to be exact) Thecla walked from her hometown to Alba to meet the Founder for the first time at the Church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. There, she said yes to Fr. Alberiones invitation to take Christ to everyone by means of the press and the modern instruments of communication. After that meeting, she and several other young women, under the guidance of Alberione, helped to launch the Daughters of St. Paul, the first feminine branch of the Pauline Family. Sr. Thecla became the Institutes first Superior General.
To celebrate the Centenary of the Congregations foundation (1915-2015), more than 100 people took part in a pilgrimage retracing the footsteps of Thecla. Among the participants were young people and families from the Alba-Castagnito area, some religious from the Alba diocese, a group of young FSP temporary professed sisters from 14 different countries (Colombia, Pakistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Romania, Madagascar, Singapore, United States, Malaysia and Mozambique), who are preparing to make their perpetual profession in the Congregation, and also a group of nine prospective FSP candidates from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
After a Eucharistic Celebration in the parish church in which Thecla was baptized, the pilgrims set out on their journey, accompanied by the mayor of Castagnito, Pierfelice Isnardi. En route, they stopped for a guided tour of the house in which Sr. Thecla was born and raised. Arriving in Alba, they visited the Church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, where they were joined by town councilor, Leopoldo Foglino, and from there they visited the Motherhouse of the Daughters of St. Paul.
A large Bible was carried on the pilgrimage from start to finish, borne in turn by different pilgrims, to celebrate the millions of steps taken by the Daughters of St. Paul along the streets of the world over the past 100 years. Our sisters tell us that the pilgrimagea time of joy and fraternity, universality and faithwas an unforgettable experience for everyone.