At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello – Educator



Nun who promoted the rights of girls to a quality education


Benedetta devoted herself to educating young girls in domestic skills and Christian morals
Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello
The Feast Day of Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello, who founded the Benedictine Sisters of Providence, is celebrated on this day, the anniversary of her death in 1858.

Benedetta carried out pioneering work by rescuing poor and abandoned girls and promoting their rights to a good education. She was made a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Benedetta was born in 1791 in Genoa but her family later moved to Pavia. As a young girl she wanted to consecrate her life to God, but obeying her parents’ wishes, she married Giovanni Battista Frassinello when she was 24.

After two years of marriage, during which they had no children, they decided to live a celibate life and stay together as brother and sister. They both later joined religious orders but Benedetta was forced to leave and return to live in Pavia again because of ill health.

When she was well again she dedicated herself to the education of the many young girls who had been abandoned or who were at risk in the area. There was so much work that the local Bishop asked her husband to leave his religious order to help her.

She was helped by young women volunteers to teach the poor girls domestic skills such as cooking and sewing as well as giving them religious instruction, with the aim of turning them into models of Christian life.

Her work was well regarded and she was appointed as Promoter of Public Instruction in Pavia.

She moved to Ronco Scrivia near Genoa where she opened a school for girls. She later founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence, which concentrated on the education of young girls.

She also opened a house of the order in Voghera near Pavia.

Benedetta died at the age of 66 on 21 March 1858 in Ronco Scrivia. 

Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, the Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil.

The pretty covered bridge that links Pavia
 with the Borgo Ticino
Travel tip:

Pavia, where Benedetta lived from an early age, is a city in Lombardy, south of Milan, known for its ancient university, which was founded in 1361, and its famous Certosa, a magnificent monastery complex north of the city that dates back to 1396. A pretty covered bridge over the River Ticino leads to Borgo Ticino, where the inhabitants claim to be the true people of Pavia and are of Sabaudian origin, traceable back to the House of Savoy.


Travel tip:

Voghera, where Benedetta opened a second house for the Benedictine sisters of Providence, is south of Pavia. It has a 14th century castle, and an 11th century Cathedral. The town’s Museum of History has among its exhibits the car of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, who was killed by the Mafia in 1982 and the weapon that allegedly killed Benito Mussolini. ‘The housewife from Voghera’ (casalinga di Voghera) is a phrase used by Italians to describe the average housewife.

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