October 29, 2021

The City of Assisi has been declared House of Life


The unveiled House of Life Plaque



The ceremony took place on October 27, 2021, coinciding with the celebration of “The Spirit of Assisi”. The event was staged at Via Borgo San Pietro, location of the Saint Colette Monastery, one of the many other monasteries in Assisi that gave shelter to Jews during WWII.

Marina Rosatti, Curator of the Museum of the Memory, acted as Master of Ceremonies.  She highlighted that the venue for the House of Life plaque is part of the “Road of Salvation”, where other convents are located, such as the Stimmatine, San Giuseppe, San Quirico il Vescovado, from which the Bishop of Assisi, Monsignor Placido Nicolini, conducted the clandestine rescue network.

The city of Assisi was represented by its Mayor, Dr. Stefania Proietti, who pointed-out the pride of the residents of her town. She underlined the fact that the then Mayor of Assisi, Arnaldo Fortini, despite his being a Fascist, went out of his way to save the persecuted Jews.

The Wallenberg Foundation was represented by her Vice-President, Silvia Costantini and the Coordinator of the Houses of Life program in Italy, Elena Colitto Castelli. The former portrayed Assisi as a “Anthem of Life”, underscoring the fact that during the tragic period of the Holocaust, none of the residents of Assisi had denounced to the enemy the existence of the rescue network.  She went on by saying “that there is nothing more suitable than proclaiming Assisi as a House of Life“.

Mother Superior of the Colettine Monastery, sister Theresei Miriam, related the story of the Finzi family, whose members were sheltered at this institution. Sister Miriam pointed out that despite the fact the Monastery was closed, Monsignor Nicolini authorized the nuns to welcome and shelter Jewish children.

A pupil of the “A. Casagrande – F. Cesi” of Terni, presented to the audience the project carried out by her and her class-mates, entitled “Memory beyond the rite”.

Ms. Elena Colitto Castelli told the story of one of the survivors, Mirjam Vitterbi, a Jewish child from Pauda who was saved in Assis.

Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of the Diocese of Assisi – Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino and Foligno, stated that “Mankind in all its cultural and religious manifestations settle the roots of the shared fraternity, for the unique paternity is the one of God“.

A couple of local students unveiled the House of Life plaque, underscoring the importance of involving the young generations in this initiative.

Letters were read from HE Dror Eydar, Ambassador of Israel in Italy, Ms. Ruth Dureghello, President of the Jewish Community of Rome and Ms. Noemi Di Segni, President of the Jewish Umbrella Organization in Italy.

At the end of the ceremony, the audience visited the Museum of the Memory, founded in 2011, thanks to the tireless efforts of Marina Rinaldi. Back in 2018, the Museum changed its venue to the Bishopric of Assisi, following an initiative of Monsignor Sorrentino.

  The video of the ceremony is available here.