AMELIA DINA BENZO – Mother Judith
I want to offer my life and sufferings
for the life and intentions of our founder Father James Alberione
and for all Pauline Disciples.
What made the life of Amelia Dina Benzo heroic, Sister Maria Judith, known to all as Mother Judith, was the offering of her own life for others, especially for Father James Alberione and his intentions. It was an offering that was renewed in her illness and kept until her death. This offering of herself expresses an exemplary imitation of Christ. It is worthy of our admiration.
She confided the following words to the Primo Maestro, as Father Alberione was known in the Pauline Family:
“I want to offer my life, and my sufferings for your life and your intentions. I also offer it for the holiness of the Pauline Disciples”. He replied: “Have you thought about it? What if the Lord takes you at your word?”
And she responded decisively with a gentle smile.
During an apparently common life as a consecrated Pious Disciple of the Divine Master, the life of Sr Mary Judith was filled with simple gestures of faith, prayer, mortification, detachment. She manifested an extraordinary love for God and for her neighbor.
She was strongly attracted by the influence and example of Blessed James Alberione and desired to follow his example and teaching totally. She herself considered her special service to the person of the Founder as a gift of grace. This witness of faith encouraged her to “keep her gaze fixed on Jesus and run with perseverance towards the goal that was before her” (Cfr. Heb 12:1).
This self-giving as Bride and Mother, even to the point of self-sacrifice with Jesus in the Eucharist is intrinsic to the vocation of the Pious Disciple (Cfr. APD 1947, 21-24; 345.385). Like Mary, she lives and prays to the point of total self-giving so that the kingdom of God may be established, and all people may know the Lord Jesus as Master, Way, Truth, and Life.
Like Our Lady, Mother Judith offered her life in service to the person of Christ himself. Her life was motherly towards all. While living in this way, she also shared in Christ’s mission for all humanity. As a mother, she accompanied the Primo Maestro in his passion of physical, moral, and spiritual pain. Like Mary, she assisted him on the cross. In death, she held him in her arms and after death, she brought him to the tomb. When all was accomplished, she withdrew into the shadows to prepare for her own sacrifice.
Amelia Dina Benzo was born the same year and the same month of the foundation of the Pious Disciples on February 15, 1924. Her parents were Giacomo (1882-1950) and Maria Gillino (1884 -1924). Amelia was the last of five children: two brothers and three sisters. She was taken to the baptismal font on February 25th of the same year. Her mother Maria died a few days later on February 27th, 1924, following a bout of pneumonia contracted during childbirth.
For the first months of life, little Amelia was entrusted to a nurse and then to her mother’s sister, Pina (Maria Giuseppina 1878-1949). She remained with her until she entered the congregation. She received the sacrament of Confirmation on July 30th, 1933, from Monsignor Sebastiano Briacca.
On the death of her oldest sister Gemma (1909-1954), Amelia took care of her 2 nephews and her husband. She did not leave them until they were able to face the challenges of life. The youngest nephew entered with her among the young boys of the Pious Society of St. Paul, Alba. He stayed with them until he acquired a suitable preparation. They adored their Aunt Amelia and each year during the month of November, the eldest visits her tomb and brings a bouquet of flowers.
Amelia entered the Congregation in Alba on September 8th, 1948. On 25th March 1951, at the end of her novitiate, she made her first profession in Alba. During her temporary vows, Sr Judith and Sr Mary Mattea Rosa (+12.05.2021) attended the boarding school in Cottolengo, Turin where they obtained their diploma as a Professional Nurse. During this time, they were also involved in spreading the good press. This helped to pay for their studies, food, and lodging. In the early years of their nursing mission, they alternated in the infirmaries of the communities of the Pauline Fathers, Alba, and the Pious Disciples, Sanfrè.
In 1954 Sr Judith was in the infirmary in Alba Mother House. It was here, on March 25th, 1965, that she made her perpetual vows. In 1958 she was exchanged with Sister Maria Mattea and moved to the infirmary of the community of Sanfrè. From 1960 to 1966 she was responsible for the community of the Generalate of the Fathers of the Society of St. Paul in Rome, as well as committing herself to the infirmary.
From February 11th, 1969, she devoted herself as a special nurse to the Primo Maestro until his death on November 26th, 1971. Fifty-five days later, at the age of 47, she followed him and died on January 20th, 1972. She was diagnosed with metastatic stomach cancer.
No one remembers hearing Sr Mary Judith raise her voice. She was always caring, serene, alert, forgetful of herself. Everyone felt that she was like a mother to them. They were with her at her side, gazing upon her silently at her bedside when she died. Surely, it was this exquisite service that earned her the gift of being chosen as the personal nurse of Fr James Alberione in the final years of his life.
Her companions remember her as a thoughtful, good, and very sensitive young woman. She was very responsible and very caring towards others. She paid attention to their needs and all desired to imitate her. Sr Judith possessed a maturity beyond her years and her presence was an inspiration to be better.
In Sr Judith, was found the older sister and the true friend who knew how to straighten out everything. She was turned to in every need. Her simplicity, combined with common sense and wisdom, was for everyone without exception. All loved her. She manifested the joyful expression of an authentic self-giving. She loved all without reserve and communicated respect and self-worth. She did not waste words and all she spoke came from her heart.
Mother Judith was faithful to her duty of adoration and service in the authentic spirit of the Pious Disciple. She was in perfect harmony with the spirit of the Founder, eager to hear his words, follow his example and writings. Usually, early in the morning she meditated on the writings of the Founder, drawing from them new riches to treasure, thus giving her renewed energy and motivation.
She admired the Founder’s poverty and desired to follow him in this too. She respected the desire of Fr Alberione, to preserve around him that environment of simplicity and poverty even in furniture and personal things.
Often the Primo Maestro spoke of Paradise and urged all to gaze heavenwards: “Paradise!” Seek what is above!”. Sometimes Mother Judith, with great confidence and simplicity, asked him if he would take her to Heaven with her. He responded with a beautiful smile and spreading his arms as if to say: “Only the Lord makes that decision!” It was in God’s plan to consent to this desire of hers and Mother Judith followed Fr James Alberione to eternity shortly after his death.
We can say of Mother Judith what is said about St. Scholastica: they were both placed close to a great charismatic figure: God listened to her and heard her and so it was that powerful and strong in love, she was also associated with him in holiness.