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Life of Blessed Nemesia Valle

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Life of Blessed Nemesia (Giulia) Valle of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joan Antida Thouret.

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Life of Blessed Nemesia Valle

  1. 1. Blessed Nemesia Valle Sister of Charity of St. Joan Antida
  2. 2. Early years Giulia Valle was born at Aosta, a bilingual region in the Italian Alps, on June 26, 1847, to a young and well- to-do couple who had already prematurely lost two sons. She had a younger brother Vincenzo. Her mother Maria Cristina worked as a milliner and her father Anselm was a traveling business man. Animated with a profound religious sense, Maria Cristina inspired the two children with an authentic openness towards others, and a generous character; a serene life, which grounded the lively and naturally curious little Giulia. Aosta: basilica S.Orso
  3. 3. Baptismal font of Bl. Nemesia
  4. 4. Early years In 1850, her father’s business was transferred to France, at Besançon and he decided to take the whole family with him. Sadly, their stay in France was traumatically interrupted by the premature death of his wife Maria Cristina, when Giulia was only 5 years old. Together with her brother Vincenzo, she was entrusted to her paternal grandfather and to an unmarried aunt, in a very austere environment, where the two children experienced all the sadness of being orphans. When Giulia was 11, she was sent to a boarding school run by the Sisters of Charity. There she learned French very well, became very adept at playing the piano, embroidery and drawing. She also began to study the texts of the great masters of catholic spirituality, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis de Sales.
  5. 5. After she completed her studies, Giulia’s father re-married and moved to Pont-Saint- Martin. Giulia had a difficult relationship with his new wife and once again found herself in an environment deprived of understanding. Her brother Vincenzo ran away, because of continual disagreements with the stepmother, and Giulia would never know where her beloved brother had gone.   She faced this difficult time of her life by seeking comfort from her mother’s family, whom she constantly visited: with them she could revisit her childhood memories, and the happy years spent with her mother. Perhaps for the very same reason, Giulia rediscovered the Sisters of Charity, her old teachers from Besançon who had encouraged and supported her. They had a house at Pont-Saint-Martin, and she became attracted to their charitable style. Giulia often visited the small community of sisters dedicated to the education of children, and soon began to help the sisters with teaching catechism, embroidery, and the supervision of the little ones during recreation time. 
  6. 6. When the time had come for Giulia to think about her future, she decided to choose religious life. Her father Anselm was surprised at his daughter’s decision and tried to dissuade her, but ended up giving his consent, and on September 8, 1866 he accompanied her to Vercelli, to the Monastery Santa Margherita, where the Sisters of Charity had a novitiate. For Giulia it was a birth to a new life, in peace and in joy even if in the midst of tears because of the new environment and being away from friends and family. At the end of her novitiate, Giulia received the religious habit and a new name: Sister Nemesia. Nemesio was a martyr of the first centuries of Christianity. She was happy with the name, and it would become her life’s motto: “To witness my love for Jesus, to the end, always, whatever the cost.”
  7. 7. Her mission began at Tortona, in the Institute San Vincenzo, an Elementary and Secondary School, boarding school, and orphanage. Sister Nemesia quickly became the authority for every project, whether apostolic or formational. She was involved with teaching and participated hands-on in the various initiatives, with an open heart and open arms, even when the work was not so inviting, wherever someone who was suffering needed to be consoled, wherever discomfort, fatigue, and poverty limited someone’s quality of life, wherever there were new paths to follow for educational and catechetical reform.       The unanimous refrain in and outside her house was: “Oh, Sister Nemesia’s heart!” Pupils, families, orphans, the poor, seminarians, even the neighboring soldiers all approached her: for a letter, to ask to darn their clothes, to help them overcome their home sickness. All of them were convinced that they had a special place in her heart, even more so after she was named Superior, which she accepted only to be able to render better service. 
  8. 8. She had many commitments, including being the bookkeeper for the Institute, which was constantly in the red; but if someone needed to speak to her, she took time to listen attentively, as if that were the only thing on her mind. Frictions with the sisters would arise, but she remained surprisingly calm. She was always knitting to provide clothes for the orphans, for the Seminarians for whom she had a soft spot and also for the soldiers stationed in the nearby military district. One generation after the other, all of them wanted to remain in touch with Sr. Nemesia— they would came back to the college to introduce their fiancé, or to present their newborn child. Although there was never enough money, she was very supportive of the missions. When the spiritual Director for the Institute, Fr. Giuseppe Carbone, left for Eritrea she supported him with many initiatives, collecting money to help him with his mission. She also helped as best she could the young Fr. Luigi Orione, founder of the Sons of the Divine Providence, and Blessed Teresa Grillo Michel, foundress of the Little Sisters of Divine Providence in Alessandria. She established a strong and fruitful collaboration with them; they shared a common spirituality and charity. 
  9. 9. On May 10, 1903, Sr. Nemesia left Tortona for Borgaro Torinese, a small country town, where the generalate of the Sisters of Charity was starting a novitiate in the new province of Turin. The novices there were waiting for a leader to accompany them along their new journey, long and austere but filled with joy because they were giving themselves to God and to the poor, according to Saint Jeanne Antide Thouret’s spirit. In Borgaro, Sr. Nemesia was very active, together with her collaborators: those who worked in the house, the garden, the orchard and above all with the youth. Her method of formation always aimed at teaching kindness and understanding, renouncing everything in order to love, having patience, and knowing how to find the right and necessary path for each novice in particular. Her novices tell us: “She knew each one of us individually, understood our needs, she treated each one of us according to our character and she used to ask us to find ways to love one another.”  Small statue of the Virgin belonging to Sr. Nemesia Park at Borgaro
  10. 10. Over a span of thirteen years, five hundred novices learned trust in God, love of prayer, dedication to serving the poor, and the evangelical meaning of the community. Her sanctity was expressed and lived day by day: “Sanctity does not consist in doing many things or in doing great things but in doing whatever God asks us to do, and to do it with patience, love and above all in fidelity as is our duty, fruit of a great love.” “Holy is the person who consumes herself in her place every day, for the Lord. Given love is the only thing that remains: see that you love intensively before you reach your life’s end.” But the Provincial Superior clearly did not approve of her approach and believed that a more rigid method would better form the future religious. Sr. Nemesia was scolded and humiliated, even in public. She accepted everything in silence and quietly continued her mission: “From one station to the other let us continue our path along the desert… and if the desert is deaf, He who created us is always listening...”
  11. 11. The years at Borgaro Torinese, were a real season of trial for Sr. Nemesia, because of the difficulties and misunderstandings.  Although extremely balanced and serene in her interior life and in the way she formed the novices, she suffered. The Provincial Superior continues to disapprove of her, the sisters of her community accuse her of weakness, to the point where persisting difficulties and misunderstandings start to deteriorate her health, and in the autumn of 1916 she suddenly broke down. Struck with a sudden attack of pneumonia, she died after six days in agony, on December 18, 1916. Beatification at St. Peter’s Basilica, 2004
  12. 12. The prayer she recited from very early on: “Jesus strip me of myself, and dress me with Yourself,” accompanied her throughout her life. Finally she could say: “I do not exist anymore for anyone.” The detachment of self was total. It was the extreme offering of a life totally given to Love.
  13. 13. Source: Based on her biography at suoredellacarita.org Photo: Associated Press

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