Le Pentite (repented women)

In front of the south facing sea, on Lungomare Galilei, the past decade saw the total demolition of the former Institute of the Good Shepherd Sisters,  contiguous with the still existing homonymous church. The one surviving trace of the complex can be admired in the park of the contiguous residence “Rosa Virginia”: a polychromatic majolica panel depicting a truly original theme of the Good Shepherd, represented here by Our Lady holding baby Jesus on her arm on the right and a little lamb in her womb on the left, an icon completely in conformity and compatible with the same Congregation of the officially called nuns of  “Nostra Signora della Carità del Buon Pastore”, founded by S. Maria Euphrasia (celebrated in art only in this church). In the church, near the entrance, on the left there is the statue of S. Giovanni Battista  de La Salle, well-known French humanitarian pedagogist, devoted to catechesis but also to education in favour of poor and abandoned youth and, on the right, the painting of S. Maria Euphrasia (1651-1719). Her real name was Maria di Sant’Eufrasia Pelletier, née Rosa Virginia (hence the name of the contiguous residence); she was a French religious woman engaged in social issues until she founded the famous Congregation of the “Buon Pastore”; the same saint is immortalized also in a fresco in the sacristy.

The primary aim of this French Order was the rehabilitation and re-education of prostitutes, lost sheep in need of their Sheperd’s help, so that, at Tours monastery, Sister Mary of Sant’Eufrasia matured the intuition of establishing a separate section for those lost women who, once repented and in serious existential difficulties, intended to recover their wits and reside there as contemplative religious women (the so-called “Maddalene”, whence the “popular” epithet of “pentite (repented)” given here not just to the boarding women, but to the Institute itself as well). In summer the nuns used to take the girls guests of the Institute just on the opposite little beach for an hour of bathing and recreation.


 “ (Excerpt from the text “Gallipoli sacra”, pp. 283-4 by Gino Schirosi)

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