The Generalate, Milan
Sr. Emmapaola, one of the sisters of our community, keeps an intense memory of Paul VI when he was the archbishop of Milan and she preserves it discretely as a personal and sweet remembrance.
In the Epiphany of 1955, Giovanni Battista Montini makes his entry into Milan as archbishop. After some time, he asks the superior general mother Angiolina Reali for a sister as a help in his secretariat to finish the huge quantity of correspondence and to respond to telegrams, greetings, letters written to him as a sign of affection, esteem and prayer. As it was not possible to take away a sister-teacher, being very exacting scholastic months, Mother sends Sr. Emmapaola, shortly a member in the community of Milan, «Istituto scolastico Maria Immacolata» in Via Amadeo, novice ‘vested’ (it was the second year of novitiate), but capable of fulfilling the task that was being assigned to her.
Thus this young sister, still a novice, finds herself sharing for some months the office of the secretariat of the archbishop. Every day she used to arrive with trepidation in her place of work and meet the one who would have become our Cardinal Protector and then Pope… It was a magnificent experience. Her apprehensive closeness towards Archbishop soon changed into well-being. His Excellence was humble, gentle, very respectful. Grateful for the activity that he was guiding with few words, often noted on the margin of the card, he was trustful that his ‘scribbler’ would have maintained the secrecy in front of any delicate situation… And the novice was amazed that a man so great would place himself with such simplicity and modesty at the level of a small woman…
During the following years, I was able to meet again some times the cardinal, but for a short while. Nevertheless, on the vigil of my perpetual profession I received a rosary from him, along with a card written by his own hand, in which he affirmed that he had received it as a gift from pope John XXIII. I conserve it to this day as a sign, as well as a relique. He reminds me that the force of detachment of an object so dear to him because of its provenance, is what makes it very precious even more than its monetary value. It is the sign of the flowing of love in charity towards the other.