Sr. Maria Annunziata: Anna Teresa Micca
About nine km from Alba, along the route of the ancient Roman road that connected Alba to Turin, stands the village of Corneliano, where the family of Giovanni Micca and Rapalino Barbara lived. On September 12th, 1899, Anna Teresa was born. She grew up in a strong family environment and in a dynamic parish life. In Alba, the adventure of Father Alberione and his foundations were a lively part of people’s conversations: there were skeptics, there were those who said he was crazy… and there are many young people, boys, and girls who, fascinated by his way of living the Gospel and proclaiming it by the most modern means, decided to follow him. Anna Teresa also entered St. Paul’s on September 8th, 1922.
Storyteller of the beginnings …
Sr. M. Annunziata, with a style that arouses curiosity, rich in images and anecdotes, writes many pages of “memoirs”: From this collection, we share some of her memories:
“At that time, we were a group of 35 young people who, following our desire to respond to the vocational call, had left our families to dedicate ourselves to the modern apostolate. It was a clear horizon, but not yet developed. We were all eager and conscious of the yearning to consecrate ourselves to the Lord for all our lives. Among these young women, Fr Alberione chose the first eight for “something new”. Orsola and Metilde were soon followed by the others and the Founder took care of all the preparations. He spoke to each of us of the value of the call to a hidden life, to silence, to prayer, etc., He left each one the freedom to choose to join the new Family.
On February 10th, 1924, the first meeting took place. He put Orsola Rivata as the leader, he assigned the Confessor to us, he outlined the simple guidelines of the religious life that we would be living: a hidden life of prayer, silence, sacrifice, carrying out the domestic services in the House and the care of the Chapel. However, the first and central duty was the adoration of Jesus the Eucharistic Master, the Way, Truth, and Life, exposed in the Blessed Sacrament.
The “perennial praise”, as the Founder articulated to us, was a real concern for him. He spoke of it with such great zeal that it is difficult to communicate this intensity. He said that the apostolate, the active works must be sustained by prayer. And on March 25th of that year, after a 3-day spiritual retreat, held by the Canon Chiesa, the first eight entrants wore the religious habit. The color and smallest details were chosen and designed according to the directives of The Theologian. It was a blue dress with wide pleats, a soft blue veil on the shoulders, a white collar, a white scapular with the emblem and the red Eucharistic ray on the front.
The vestition took place in the Chapel quite early in the morning; It was known to very few, because everything was done in the utmost secrecy, so when the blue and white habit appeared, everyone was surprised and excited. The new Sisters were given a warm welcome and many congratulated the Founder. They said to us: “our Sisters”, the Sisters of Adoration, the heavenly Sisters like Our Lady…”
On 25th March 1924, Anna Teresa joyfully took the name of Sr. Annunziata di Maria. It was a significant name, given on the day dedicated to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God, when he was welcomed by the Virgin Mary. From her “memories” we discover how Fr Alberione lived and followed people, forming them day after day, with meditations and conferences, but often informally, in the workplace or during meals, “taking care of souls and bodies”.
The exchange of faith
Sr. M. Annunziata recalls, holding the leaflet, the compiling of the exchange of faith. “The Primo Maestro told us: ‘First, pray to obtain from God what is necessary. He taught us to commit ourselves to the Lord. At a monthly retreat he taught us how to complete the following exchange of faith:
Leave everything and give everything to Jesus who with his infinite merits assures us the 100 x 1.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all the rest will be given to you in addition, that is, the necessary.
Deadline: meeting in Eternity, I will pay for this bill of exchange
signature: Jesus Christ
Endorsements: Father, Holy Spirit.
He also made us recite a covenant with the Lord (Secret of success) where the Lord was asked to grant us holiness 10 for one, and other things … Oh! Yes, for poverty he wanted commitment, diligence, with great faith. He wanted us to consider the smallest things and give everything back in a positive manner.
Bricks and prayer for the Church of St. Paul
“For a long time, the Founder had been toying with the idea of building a Shrine to St. Paul the Apostle in Alba, the cradle of the Pauline Family. It would be difficult, no doubt, but it would be based on faith united to works. Given the nature of the soil – suitable clay – he thought of building a furnace specifically to manufacture the necessary bricks. The furnace was prepared; the improvised workers were ready to make it work; the whole Pauline Family were ready to help. However, the most important part, which required industriousness and ongoing work, was entrusted to the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master.
The Pious Disciples fervently renewed their prayer and their self-giving so that the Temple might be less unworthy of the Majesty of God.
They were animated by the words of the Founder: “The particular purpose is that of Adoration because it is your specific apostolate. Every day you must go to this Temple to give glory, honor, and reparation to God. How I would like you to build Jesus’ dwelling place with your pure hands, with your own hands, guided by God’s love, to place the bricks one on top of the other; With your hands you handle trowel, hammer, with the mixture of cement, lime, sand, and with the dough you formed all the masonry and then perform all the work in a spirit of adoration. This literally cannot be done, but with the weapon of prayer, you will obtain from God, not only the grace to avoid misfortunes, but that no work be carried out by a soul harmed by sin…” By example and word, the Theologian always urged us to intimate, interior work, to the full correspondence of this beautiful vocation and mission”.
Beautiful young women and courted …
She recalled with fun, also from personal experience, the comments of the young men in search of a girlfriend: “… many young women were attracted by the ideal of purity and honesty, longing to consecrate themselves to the guard of honor of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. They asked to join the Pious Disciples. On March 25th, 1927, as many as 14 candidates wore the religious habit … The grace of God shone on their faces. They were generous and decisive and had taken the first step to give themselves to God forever. There were so many who in their youthful beauty, gave themselves to God, without regret for earthly temptations.
This was noticed by many of the people, and naturally, there were many judgements, opinions, good or not so good, that flourished in the typical Piedmontese wit. There was also the displeasure of the suitors who desired the hands of these young women. These sentiments were summed up in the words such as:
“The most beautiful young women go to shut themselves up in Saint Paul’s, especially the new Sisters. They are dressed in light blue and white, they always do adoration, etc. They are threatened with the fear of hell, and attracted by the heavenly promises, they let themselves be conquered and leave us all … Inside there is the flourishing of the most beautiful young people, they do many things, they work with so much dedication, they have many machines …” and similar things … And we couldn’t help but smile!”
A little curiosity: amiably sr. M. Annunziata was called “the grandmother”, a title that was documented by Fr Timothy Giaccardo. In fact, in 1946, at a time when he was with very young sisters, he wrote to her: “Venerable Madre M. Annunziata. Deo gratias! for the good you do. Be the “grandmother”, that is, the true religious, the true woman of God, the exemplary nun! I pray for you. Avoid all gossip, and build everyone up with silence, work, prayer. Pray for me. TMG”. And one day she said: “Of course, I am Grandma for you”. And this title remained with her forever.
So many steps!
In addition to Alba, Rome and in various areas of Italy for the spreading of the “good press”, we meet Sr. M. Annunziata in Messina, Grosseto, Livorno, Vercelli … to follow and open new paths for vocations and the works of the Pious Disciples.
Her strong sense of Providence and the ability to cultivate relationships with people made her very dynamic with benefactors, even during the difficult times of the Second World War. This safeguarded sustenance in the Pauline houses.
Then she crossed the ocean and arrived in the United States. Fr Alberione entrusted her with a special mission “for Our Lady, for the Shrine Queen of the Apostles” that was being built in Rome. To this end, she walked with other sisters on the streets of the United States, first in New York, then in California where there was not yet a supportive community. Some writings of the Founder accompany this mission, for example:
“The Queen of Apostles awaits the altar from you. Go to California, you will collect a lot (04.02.1950)“.
“I bless you, with trust in Our Lady … Let us pray and hope: for we work for our Mother. You will give me news. Many merits! (13.05.1950)”
“Always, everything, only for heaven. You have worked well for the altar of the Queen of Apostles Crypt. Now the Lord asks for greater good. I thank and bless you (25.03.1954)“.
For the Church of Jesus Master
In 1964, in assuming the ministry of General Treasurer, she had to face various situations that were not always easy, but by praying and encouraging other people to pray, making the most of her talents, knocking on many doors, she was fruitful in doing good for others and for the benefit of the goods of the Congregation.
The main work that was entrusted to her care was the construction of the Church to Jesus Divine Master in Rome. The construction site saw her constantly present in dealing with the various aspects related to the works, the relationship with the civil authorities, with the Superior General and the Pious Disciples. There were designers, professionals, workers and all the employees. It could be said that in those years there was a skill acquired not so much from studies of books but from “scholarliness“, from learning from everything and everyone, according to the formation inculcated by Fr Alberione.
Perfume and taste of home
“In the grandparents’ house – says Pope Francis – you can breathe the perfume of the Gospel, the strength of a faith that has the flavor of home“. We enter the inner house of Sr. M. Annunziata, our “grandmother”, to breathe the atmosphere of her journey as a “woman of the Gospel”:I want to be a little true Pious Disciple like Mary Most Holy. I want to be the Pious Disciple of Love!
Prostrate at the foot of the Crucified One, my Spouse, I invoke mercy, I place myself under the gaze of the Most Holy Trinity to learn very well all about the Eucharistic, priestly, and liturgical life. This is what Mary did, this is what I want to do. I want to be a poor Pious Disciple, in the last place. Pray very much to Our Lady to give her Immaculate Heart to this poor sinner. I want to make myself small before the Lord, before myself, small, according to the spirit, according to the Gospel. I want to have from the Immaculate heart, childlike simplicity, pure and refined in sorrow.
Do not expect others to carry the weight of my bd temper, my miseries: try to smile. Let no one know if my smile is one of tears or of joy, and every night that may I find that I have suffered something for others.
Social resolution. Bring the utmost contribution to the Congregation. In all duties, place all my gifts: “Ecce ancilla Domini”. Forgetting myself. Prompt and generous and hardworking. Enrich my mind with all that is necessary, liturgical things, etc. Surrender everything to the Wisdom of Our Lady to obtain the light of the Holy Spirit and fulfill my duty well to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity as a true Pious Disciple. Always keep the three apostolates in mind.
All my good lies in God! Faith and Love even when everything seems the opposite.
I find myself in a very difficult, very sad moment of my religious life. Oh! Infinite love of God, come to my help, have mercy on me. Infinite mercy of God, have mercy and pity me. I place everything in the infinite love of God who shows me mercy and gives me the grace of holy humility, the true happiness … Think of the humility of Jesus and Mary and know how to organize myself.
To do God’s will in everything and apply it to every circumstance. If I do so Jesus will really be for me the Way, the Truth and the Life and I will truly be his Pious Disciple. Take everything from the mouth of the Divine Master. Make room in my soul for the gifts that the Divine Master expects from me. Make myself attractive to the Divine Master. Make the Divine Master truly the Center of my existence, as in the great precept: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Open my heart and mind to all that the good Jesus says to me in the Holy Gospel!