Day 6: Guarene

Guarene, the town built on a hilltop
Guarene is another commune in the Province of Cuneo, a small picturesque town with a small population of about 2,500 people. Despite being a minute town, it boasts historical monuments and churches which can be traced back to 1382. The first of these buildings which catches the eye is the Guarenese Castle, poised high on the hill, one of the most dignified and beautiful dwellings for the counts and countesses of the 16th century.

The main reason of our visit to Guarene is to revisit the birthplace and associated places of our first mother, Mother Mary Scholastica Rivata, first Disciple of the Divine Master. In Via Luccio, Guarene, Orsola Rivata was born on the 12th of July 1897, the first born child of Antonio Rivata and Lucia Alessandra. In this same house, Lucia returns home to God after the birth of the fourth child, thus leaving this young family orphaned of their mother. Soon after, Antonio moved his family a mere two doors down the road as the house began to get cramped. When she was 7 she received her First Holy Communion, the first important step in her spiritual journey. She had a deep awareness of this mysterious gift of union with Jesus and she desired to receive the Him frequently. Holy Communion soon became her daily practice.

Mother M. Scholastica
At the age of twelve, Orsola was confirmed and felt a strong desire to spend her energies in the apostolate: “to do good.” She was a lively, mature and outgoing young woman: she took an active role in the life of the parish; she had a beautiful voice and enjoyed singing. In 1921 she went to a bookshop one Saturday in Alba, Italy and there she met Fr. James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family. He invited her to enter the house at St. Paul’s in Alba, Italy. For us today, having the opportunity to see these houses was an invitation to thank God for our early experiences of childhood. We were blessed to be able to visit one of this houses, thanks to the hospitality of Mother Scholastica's niece who still lives in the house and has preserved her room as it was. Standing there in that room, one felt obliged to silently pray and reflect how God has guided each one of us to this point of our religious journey, how He cultivated the seed of a vocation, and how He inflames our hearts so as to be able to repeat like his faithful disciple Scholastica. "You alone Lord, and nothing else!". This motto for the life of Mother Scholastica was composed spontaneously when she refused an offer of marriage.

On her Profession day
In 1923, the first steps were taken toward the foundation of a new Congregation. Orsola was to be instrumental in this great work. When she made her religious profession she was given the name ‘Scholastica’ (meaning ‘disciple’). Discipleship was to become the entire program of her relationship with Jesus, the Divine Master. Throughout her life, Scholastica dedicated herself to living the Eucharistic, Priestly and Liturgical apostolate. She was sustained and nourished in this ministry through her love for Jesus in the Eucharist. She found there the strength to welcome the God who often revealed himself through the cross and suffering. These were elements which deeply marked her radiant and simple existence.

Nourished by the word of Jesus, Scholastica always knew how to choose the better part. Her life was directed entirely toward losing herself in love and to surrendering herself unconditionally to God’s plan for her life. In her journey of discipleship she was led on a journey of interior freedom and self- abandonment, experiencing suffering, uncertainty, darkness, failure, solitude and humiliation. All of these elements however, led her on a spiritual pilgrimage of transfiguration in Christ. Through her humble and serene lifestyle, Scholastica teaches us to rely upon God alone, abandoning our security and our plans, our own sense of self-importance so that God’s plans and desires may find a place within us.

Her witness becomes a challenge for us in the midst of a humanity which seems to have lost a sense of meaning. The message Scholastica offers to the young people of today is that of making a decision for Christ. Religious bear witness to the centrality of God in our lives and we affirm that faith is the journey we undertake in order to open ourselves to God’s desires for our lives. To the future generations of Sister Disciples, Mother Scholastica is a witness to God’s faithfulness. This witness is not simply for the Disciples of the Divine Master, but for all people. Indeed that is how we left Guarene after visiting her birthplaces and the Church of St. Peter and St. Bartholomew where she received the sacrament of baptism. Photo gallery
Praying in the room where M. Scholastica lived