On February 23, 1891, in Borgo Vercelli, around 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, Maria Angela Domenica was born to Giovanni Alfieri and Rosa Compagnone. They had been married the year before in the village parish church. There was a certain age difference between the newlyweds: he was twenty-seven, she only nineteen.

Maria Angela Domenica was baptized, as was customary, the next day, Feb. 24, and was confirmed on Jan. 14, 1900, by the archbishop of Vercelli, Msgr. Pampirio.

From a social point of view, she was a family that lived decently from the produce of their fields, which were not very extensive, but sufficient for sustenance. While sober, they did not lack the necessities for an average-sized family.

Giovanni and Rosa had four children: Maria Angela Domenica, who was followed by Angela Francesca in 1894, Adele Domenica Caterina in 1896 and finally Carlo Luigi in 1898.

It was a family solid in the faith, as were many at that time: father Giovanni was prior of the Confraternity of St. Catherine of Alexandria, which belonged to the vast movement of the Confraternities of the Disciplined. As prior, the father of the future sister Enrichetta was asked to animate all the brethren, to provide for the needs of worship and charity typical of the Confraternity: relief for the poor, widows, and orphans. GiovanniAlfieri was a very committed man in the Christian life, publicly known and exposed, so he must have been convinced and determined.

Their marriage lasted a full fifty-nine years, which Giovanni and Rosa spent in living faith. We are confirmed by the strength with which they endured the long years of suffering. Both were paralyzed: father John for seventeen years, stricken with a stroke, mother Rosa for seven years.

From sister Enrichetta’s correspondence with her parents.

In 1946, from Milan, where she was able to return at the end of the war, on December 17, sister Enrichetta wrote to her beloved parents with Christmas greetings. Referring to their long and troubled illness, sister Enrichetta takes her cue from the feast of the martyrdom of St. John and the Holy Innocents:

Take courage, then, O beloved ones!

Still you are the martyrs of Jesus. And since your martyrdom is of a longer duration than Those…even greater will be your reward.

Courage, courage!

Comfort yourselves with these thoughts by keeping one eye fixed on the Crib and the other on Calvary; looking and imitating now Our Lady in adoration of Jesus and occupied with caring for Him and family needs; now resigned and pierced with pain at the foot of the Cross, on which Jesus agonizes and dies for our salvation. Behold, just so is your life, O my Dear Ones…and for dear Mama in the most painful way.

May the Child Jesus smile on you, comfort you, bless you all. It is so cold, cover yourselves and keep warm. Best wishes from the Sisters and many kisses from me.

Most affectionate sister Enrichetta, SdC

Text taken from Seeing with the Heart, by Apeciti

The letter is in Writings of Blessed Enrichetta Alfieri, by Apeciti – Clerici – Saibene