Italy - Turin

The family dimension of worship.

Don Lello Birolo, parish priest of the Sanctuary-Saint Rita Parish in Turin, is interviewed by Roger Bergonzoli

The Sanctuary of Santa Rita in Turin has a peculiarity: it is a Sanctuary-Parish. Why was the need felt to create this ambivalence?
1928 saw the birth of the parish of Saint Rita, so named from the devotion of Mgr. Giovanni Baloire, its founder. The title of "sanctuary" came through an initiative of the people. Neither the Bishop nor the Curia have ever written anything in official documents. It is the Christian people who did what their devotion inspired them to do. Ours is a de facto sanctuary by popular election.

What relationship do parishioners have with Santa Rita?
Popular devotion consider her a "helper saint", a saint who "helps"! Santa Rita is a friend of God, who has lived many seasons, similar to those experienced by those who raises their eyes toward Her. The Christian people "feel her close". The highest gift of Rita's charismatic presence in our community is the love of Christ Crucified. Our parish is full of love and devotion to the Crucifix.

What is the peculiarity of the cult of Rita in your community?
As a sanctuary town in a metropolitan area, the usual expression of worship is the family pilgrimage. There is no need for organisations, travel, etc. Family get in cars or takes public transport and come from all over the town. The family pilgrimage is very often guided by the elders of the family; or people gather around a sick family member in a wheelchair. The family characteristic is confirmed by the predilection of worried waiting brides or young mothers for Saint Rita. They bring "in vision" the child received, offering the blue or pink bow as an announcement of the long-awaited birth.

In this time of severe economic crisis, in the wake of Rita’s message, what can and what must we say to all those who are suffering, also because they seem to be deprived of hope in the future?
There is always a way out from the ruins: those who still have faith in God find it. As did Rita. We are always under the gaze of the love of the Father! There is no landing to joy without taking the way of the Cross. Could the time of economic crisis not be a formidable voice of God calling us to conversion? Perhaps it is a propitious time for the question “where is your treasure?” to return and resonate in the heart of every man.


Testimony also published in No. 5-2012 of From the Bees to the Roses.