Call to Holiness

Sister Giuseppina De Muro, Daughter of Charity

A strong and bold woman with a boundless love and an unshakable will

Sister Giuseppina De Muro was born in Lanusei (Italy), on the 2nd of November, 1903, she entered the Daughters of Charity at the age of 20and made her vows for the first time in Turin, San Salvario. On the 31st of December 1925, she was sent to minister to the prisoners at the Le Nuove Prison in Turin, where she worked to better their lives, not just in the prison, but also when they were released from prison.

Because children were in prison with their mothers, she set up a nursery school for infants to 3 year olds.  She set up classes for parents in reading, writing and math, as well ascourses of sewing, ironing, knitting and embroidery.

During the WWII Nazi occupation of Turin, on the 18thof September 1943 the Germans took over the prison imposing very rigid rules: no outdoor walks, meager meals and no clean linen. Sister Giuseppina proved to be authoritative, strong and bold by managing to snatch political prisoners from the SS troops.  These were often young girls captured in raids.  She took them to the section of the prison entrusted to her where they, in groups of five were crammed into six square meters cells.

In her small office, using her wit and intelligence, she devised ways to advocate for them to receive the sacraments, decent food and clothing.  In general, she did all she could to lessen their pain and suffering.  She went personally to the Prefect Zerbino to gain the release of more than 500 political prisoners detained in the LeNuove Prison (despite the danger of death from rooftop snipers).  Sister Giuseppina was able to revoke the execution of a father condemned for political reasons, and to rescue a 9 month old baby from the SS, taking him to safety in a dirty linen laundry basket.  She managed to free, with clever intelligence, two Jewish couples and a Jewish woman by holding them in the prison rather than letting them be deported to a German concentration camp. She assisted the whole Jewish community of the Turin by putting hard-boiled eggs into medicine boxes to bring them to political prisoners, by secretly transmitting news from the family members to the prisoners and by comforting mothers discovering that their sons had been shot.

After the war, Sr. Demuro founded the Casa del Cuore for the recovery of ex-prisoners. In 1955 she received a Gold Medal for the merits acquired in the field of social redemption.  After multiple strokes, she had to leave the Prison and went for care to Pallanza, on the Lake Maggiore.  She died the 22th. of October, 1965.

The city of Turin remembered her with the following commemoration:

 “Sister Giuseppina … knew how to put into practice the precepts of the Gospel with a spirit of charity, she knew how to give herself without counting the cost, and without seeking credit for the work she accomplished …She was a woman of boundless love, without prejudices, she was authentic, gentle, with a great Charity.   She is a shining example  for all those who believe in justice, in mutual respect, in reconciliation and the power of love as the way to peace.”

sources: ◊  www.fdcsanvincenzo.it ◊   www.unionesarda.it

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