“October 16, 1943. The visits continue and we continue to admit people. Today the commitments on the occasion of the persecution to the Hebrews are increasing, which seems to have worsened today.”
"October 23, 1943. We spent most of the afternoon installing the new family that has arrived, a lady and two children of six months and four years."
These are extracts of a journal, the journal of the house of the Teresian Association in Rome, located on Via Gaeta number 8. There, five young women feel the duty of welcoming those who knock at their door fleeing from Nazi-fascist persecution.
The available data testify that, in that house, at least 34 people found refuge during the most acute period of the persecution. These facts have been known recently by the testimony of survivors. They have been documented thanks to the diary that collected the activity of the house, as was done in the rest of residences or the so called academies of the Association.
In recognition, the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (FRW) gives the current University residence and headquarters of the Teresian Association in Italy, on Via Cornelio Celso 1, Rome, the "House of Life" plaque on February 16.
No feelings of heroines
The siege of German troops to Rome lasted nine months, from September 1943 to June 1944. At that time numerous Catholic groups housed people persecuted for being of Jewish origin or for being part of the resistance. The peculiarity of this group of members of the Association formed by Ana María López, Milagro Nadal, María Luisa González del Pino, Matilde Marín and Mariana Martín, is that they were all Spanish women - foreigners - recently arrived in Rome where they were studying or they were engaged in research work at the University. They were quite young and came from having suffered the consequences of the Spanish Civil War. They put their little part in giving shelter, food, medicines... to persecuted people, whom they did not know before in most cases.
The young women never felt themselves as heroines or later commented publicly on what happened in those months. The details of these circumstances have been known thanks to the historical research carried out by Anna Doria, a member of the TA, and the echo of her book Oggi sono venuti i tedeschi. Vita quotidiana a Roma sotto l'occupazione nazista. (Today the Germans have come. Daily life in Rome under Nazi occupation).
Giving refuge today
The award ceremony as “House of Life” will take place on Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. It will be attended by members of the FRW and the TA as well as several authorities, including the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, María de Carmen de la Peña Corcuera.
For the Teresian Association, especially in Italy, it is an important occasion to give testimony of these charitable gestures and to promote reflection on the meaning of giving shelter today.
«Houses of life» is an educational program of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation that aims to identify, pay tribute and disseminate the actions of groups or individuals that gave a caring hand to those persecuted by Nazism and its allies during the Holocaust, risking their lives. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, founded by Baruc Tenembaum, is a non-profit NGO.