Marello Maria Sr. M. Antonietta
We are in Piedmont, in the province of Cuneo. In the Roero, an area of land located north of Alba on the left bank of the Tanaro, we find the village of S. Pietro di Govone. It was here, on January 21st, 1898, that Andrea Marello and Servetti Margarita welcomed the birth of Maria.
In 1918, at the age of twenty, Maria entered St. Paul’s. However, Fr Alberione, after she passed some time in Susa, and possibly because of the fragility of her health or maybe something new was maturing in his thought, he told her to return home and to wait until he called her to return.
On August 25th, 1921, she again entered, and because of the order of her entrance, she would become “the veteran” of our Family. It was not yet formed, but Fr Alberione had already shaped it in his mind and heart. Maria joined Orsola and Metilde to be part of the first eight members who on that day of February 10th, 1924 gave life to the Congregation of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. The following March 25th after the vestition, when she received the name of Sr. Antonietta of the Divine Master, with Mother Scholastica she began the hours of Eucharistic Adoration. In 1925 her sister Emilia followed her into the Pious Disciples, and she received the name of Sr. M. Alfonsa. In her family her brother was a diocesan priest: Father Giovanni.
Meet Mother Antonietta
In 1963, the year of preparation for the forty years of foundation, Fr. Alberione asked the Pious Disciples to propose some names for a cause of beatification. The name of Antonietta Marello emerged from this survey.
Fr Alberione, who had welcomed and guided her since 1918, wrote: “Regarding Mother Antonietta: it is useful to collect memories of her life, her religious observance, virtue, piety, spirit of faith, facts, teachings, testimonies of her virtue …, the graces obtained. Is she invoked? Deo gratias! Fr. J. Alberione.”
There are many testimonies about Mother Antoinette who for many years, with Mother Scholastica, was the formator of the first generations of Pious Disciples. She was a wise and understanding teacher, a good and firm Mother.
“I have beautiful memories of her and was so edified by her”, Sr. M. Gesualda Serra wrote. “As soon as I entered the Congregation in Alba (1929), seeing her serenity, joyfulness and such total self-giving, I admired her goodness, noticing in her so much kindness towards everyone. I felt well liked and accepted by her. This was of so much help to me in the early days. Then her prayer, her love for the Eucharist that she transmitted to all of us, her silence …”
The testimony of Don Giacomo Alberione
The most perceptive profile of Mother Antoinette came from Fr James Alberione on the day of her funeral. It was August 3rd, 1958, and celebrated in Rome in the Crypt of the shrine of the Queen of Apostles
“… The Lord condescends to sow flowers and make them bloom on this earth which is so full of misery and sins; flowers, which spread their perfume and recall the purpose for which we were created. Mother M. Antonietta, for whose eternal rest we now celebrate this sacred rite, is a flower of humility, a violet, and at the same time a flower of wisdom, of fortitude. She was a flower of humility because she always considered herself good for nothing, a flower of faith because she always believed, and in her faith, despite her physical weakness, she worked for God and for the Congregation of the Pious Disciples with constancy, and with great fruit.
Two thoughts: her faith and her dedication to the Lord. Her faith: she entered the Pauline Family when none of the external things could yet guarantee the development that would take place later, faith because even without being able to understand the future apostolate to which she would later devote her energies, she still accepted to be part of the new institution. She believed and entered as a young girl; and she believed later when the time came to set aside some daughters to constitute the Congregation of the Sister Disciples of Jesus Master.
Many things happened, but she never doubted; She welcomed and accepted every invitation, every disposition, even when things seemed contradictory and conflicting. So, she advanced throughout her life, so she ended her life.
Her faith! We must always remember the phrase “By myself I can do nothing” and at the same time, “with God I can do all”, remembering that trusting in God, we distrust ourselves. Faith! And God always rewards faith; whoever trusts in Him will not be confounded. Humility and trust in God ensure a holy life, a life full of value, a peaceful death, an undying glory in Heaven.
Mother Antonietta did not have many natural gifts, but she did have many gifts of grace, gifted by the Holy Spirit. And she responded to all the graces received, we can say to the extent that we ourselves are poor and can understand. She fulfilled what was said in her profession: “I give myself totally, I offer myself and I consecrate all to God”. All strength lies in that word “all”, and she gave herself totally
Holiness lies precisely in giving ourselves totally to God. What does this mean? It means that we have received talents and having received them from God – “starting from your gifts” – we offer what we possess, fulfilling our duty, using the talents that God bestowed on us according to his will, and the mission of each one, according to the very special special graces of each one. Holiness is this: returning to God what has been received from God, returning in diligence and care, all the natural and supernatural gifts of grace.
Her time was continually spent for the Lord. The great gift of time! The gift of life! This life that can be for us the greatest treasure or can become for those who do not understand, the reason for existence can become a deception that leads to eternal punishment. Life is nothing, but it is everything for eternity; she consecrated her life to the Lord, she never had a moment of doubt, she always knew how to have recourse to God for encouragement; she always knew how to have recourse to the people who had to carry out this ministry to confirm it; she did not waver.
She consecrated to God her thoughts, her mind; her heart, her affections, her strength, her firm will, her hardworking spirit: everything: in poverty, in chastity, in obedience.
Upon entering, she agreed to go on the first transfer with the Daughters of St. Paul to Susa. She then carried out various offices in the Mother House; she was chosen with seven other Sisters to begin the Family of the Pious Disciples. Subsequently, among the Pious Disciples, she had the task of assisting and forming the aspirants and novices, and with what direction, with what precision! Maternal, very firm! She was assigned to Rome for the first and second time as Superior. How many disciples and priests owe her gratitude. In Catania, she also faithfully accomplished what had been entrusted to her, and in Spain she guided the House in that nation, preparing it in a manner suitable for religious life.
Her weakening health required much respect and attention, she experienced a loss of energy and fatigue. After Bordighera, she came to Rome and was selected to be a General Councilor, where she continued to be simple, humble, generous, forthright and full of faith. All those who had more direct contact with Mother M. Antonietta can testify to this.
The teaching is this: her strength was in that “all”: you will love the Lord with all your mind, with all your heart, with all your strength. Holiness lies in this: when one does not give in, as far as possible to human frailty, a perfume enters, which ascends to heaven, it is ablaze. Self-love, envy, pride, sensitivity, one’s own way of seeing, and attachments have no part of it: it is a pure flame that ascends.
We cannot say that she was flawless! She had quite a few! Like the flame, she purified herself daily. The Lord himself wanted to intervene to purify her in the last months of her life.
All her mind, heart, strength … she was a complete religious, all being given to God … The whole heart, the virginity of the heart: she had no holy feelings of love after Communion, and then in practice feelings of pride, envy and putting others down. All her heart! Her will and strength; Do not make resolutions in the morning and after an hour express very different words and actions very different from the resolutions made. Virginity of will!
Then: ” Lord, you have given me five talents, behold, I have gained five more” …
A question that I ask myself and that everyone must ask himself: if today the Lord were to call us to account, if tomorrow the funeral were celebrated for us, could we say with serenity: “All the gifts you have given me, Lord, have I spent for you? “Could words of praise be said from others, could recognition be made of the virtues and works accomplished be done for us just as we have now remembered of Mother M. Antoinette?
Let us reflect on today’s Prayer: “Deus, qui omnipotentiam … God who prove your power by showing mercy and sparing us the punishments we have deserved…” Remembering this Prayer we pray for good Mother Antoinette, and at the same time we ask the Lord forgiveness for what she still owes to God’s goodness. Let us ask forgiveness, and every time we remember Mother Antoinette, let us always think … everything disappears, give everything to God. Virginity!”
Her last day
We remember those close to her: “How much prayer she prayed when she was ill! Our Lady prayed incessantly, in a special way: O Mary, to you I consecrate my whole life pray for me now and in the final struggle on my deathbed, etc. On the day of her death, she said several times: Oh, how happy I would be if I died today! She called for the priest and continued to exclaim afterwards: How happy I would be if I died today!” And on August 1st, 1958, Mother M. Antonietta passed into eternity, holy, serene, strong as she had always lived. Her desire to go to Heaven with the Divine Master was granted and sealed.
 Audio is also available.