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Elena da Persico


The life


To know Elena, her story, her journey and the insight that moved her and led her to develop a new way in the Church means to know and understand the meaning of her gaze upon the world and upon history; a gaze that still challenges us, invites us and reveals to us the grace of a life shaped by the contemplation of God in the ordinary conditions of life, to the point of living a life of service, purely out of love, like Jesus.

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.

Fundamental choices

In the spring of 1903, Elena was about to turn 34 years old. This was the beginning of a spiritually significant time for her, which was also quite busy due to her professional work and social engagements: her passion for mankind and her desire to be a responsible presence in the events of history can be seen in the small and large acts of her daily life.


Elena, founder of the FRA


Between 1910 and 1913-1914, the distinctive traits of her vocational insight came to light, which later took the form of theFRA. In moments of the most intense prayer or Eucharistic intimacy, Elena took note of the salient aspects of the “project” that was taking shape, while always careful not to insert too much of her own voice, but to remain a “spectator and instrument of the Lord’s work”.

Social engagement and dedication to the Church

Elena’s work was multifaceted; she was operationally present in the Catholic life of the time, to the extent that she received the affectionate title of “my Auxiliary” from Cardinal Bacilieri (1910) in her diocese of Verona.


Her mature years


Even into her old age, Elena’s story continued to be deeply intertwined with that of the Italian Catholic movement. Meanwhile, the firstFRA. groups were established, for which Elena continued to travel around the country and spared no effort without, however, allowing this to limit her other activities.

Despite the war

Despite her advanced age and the destruction and mourning caused by the war, Elena continued to work tirelessly...

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The final stage of a busy life

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Elena continued to work tirelessly even during the last few years of her life as a living testimony to her passion for history and for the life of the Church. A few months before she died, she called on women to get involved in social participation, with an article with a meaningful title: “All rise!”. Already sick at the time, she went to vote on 18 April 1948, because she considered this act to be extremely important for the new chapter in the history of the country. She died on 28 June 1948.


The process for her beatification began on 21 February 1969.

Pope Francis declared her venerable on 7 July 2014.


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  • M. RICCI CURBASTRO, Elena da Persico operaia di Cristo, Attività sociali, Verona 1956.

  • D. CASTENETTO, Elena da Persico (1869-1948). Una intuizione spirituale, Istituto Propaganda Libraria, Milano 1982.

  • Da Persico Elena, voce a cura di A. Niero, in Dizionario storico del Movimento Cattolico in Italia), 3/1, Le figure rappresentative, Marietti, Casale Monferrato 1984, pp. 280-281.

  • AA.VV., Elena da Persico: una donna, una spiritualità (1869-1948), Pro Manuscripto, Viboldone 1985.

  • A. PASSONI, Elena da Persico: una donna nella storia, AVE, Roma 1991.

  • AA.VV., L’impegno sociale di Elena da Persico, AVE, Roma 1993.

  • E. DA PERSICO, Diario, Glossa, Milano 1993.

  • E. DA PERSICO, Lettere ai direttori spirituali (1911-1938), Morcelliana, Brescia 1998.

  • AA.VV., Elena da Persico: una vita, un impegno, Roma 1999.

  • Da Persico Elena, voce a cura di E. Butturini, in Dizionario biografico dei veronesi (secolo XX), I (A-L), Accademia di Agricoltura, Scienze e Lettere, Verona, 2006, pp. 284-286.

  • L. GAZZETTA, Innovazione nella conservazione. Elena Da Persico e la costruzione dell’azione cattolica femminile in Italia, in Mélanges de l'École française de Rome - Italie et Méditerranée modernes et contemporaines (MEFRIM), 128/2 (2016):

  • C. TASCONE - D. CASTENETTO, Pensare e operare nella storia. La formazione della donna negli scritti di Elena da Persico, Centro Ambrosiano, Milano 2018.

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