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Her formative years

Elena da Persico was born in Verona on 17 July 1869, the eldest daughter of Count Charles III da Persico and Countess Maria Barbavara of Gravellona.

Her family were of noble origins but by Elena’s childhood years they were experiencing progressive economic decline. Elena was still just a little girl when the da Persico family were forced to sell their large aristocratic mansion at Affi and retire to a more modest house nearby. Then, in 1878, the family had to move to Milan, where Elena’s father found work but, unfortunately, he died just four years later.

Thus, Elena was forced to confront the practical problem of “earning a living” and so, she obtained a teaching diploma and qualified to teach French. But she did not devote her life to teaching. She immediately began to write and this was to be her real work throughout her life: first, as a writer and translator and later, as a journalist. Her work went against the grain of the customs and traditions of her social environment, which was not inclined to understand a woman engaged in a profession.

In 1902, after a trip to Bavaria and Bohemia, she returned to Affi where she continued to write. During this period, the synthetic insight of her vocation came into greater focus: “Behold, O Lord, I have answered your call; I will be yours alone”. This willingness springs from an intense desire to obey His will as Lord and Saviour.

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