June 15, 2015

Istituto delle Suore di San Giuseppe is a new House of Life

On 12 June 2015, Eduardo Eurnekian, Chairman of the Wallenberg Foundations, unveiled in Rome a plaque that declares and identifies as House of Life the Istituto delle Suore di San Giuseppe.

Eurnekian also presented the Wallenberg Medal to Sister Emerenziana Bolledi who, as a novice, gave shelter to children persecuted by the Nazis. “There were 60 people rescued from the Nazis between 1943 and 1944 in this house: 60 lives that were saved thanks to true mothers who honored life,” said Eurnekian.

Houses of Life is an educational program created and develop by the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. It was launched in 2014 and aims to identify locations, most of them religious ones, where persecuted people found refuge during Second World War.

So far, the Wallenberg Foundation, a global NGO created by Baruch Tenembaum, has located numerous buildings and institutions that qualify to be declared House of Life. In Rome alone almost two hundred were found. Houses of Life were also identified in France, Poland, Greece and Germany.

The refugees were mostly children whose parents were taken prisoners and conducted to concentration camps. These children were protected until the end of the war when they were reunited with relatives that had survived. This is the case of Emmanuel and Raffaele Pacifici, sons of Rabbi Riccardo Pacifici of Genoa (killed by the Nazis), who were protected by Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, in Florence. A grandchild of them is the current President of the Jewish community in Rome.

The purpose of the “Houses of Life” program is to identify and honor those who reached out and helped people in need by risking their own lives, as well as the life of family and friends. There are public places such as convents, monasteries, churches, schools, and privately owned homes, where Jews persecuted by the Nazis were sheltered and were given food and medicines. “Seventy years after the end of the Second World War this educational proposal has an impact as it acknowledges and awards those who were on the front line and risked everything to help their fellow man”, Eurnekian said.

The program takes place throughout Europe with the cooperation of Aleteia, a Catholic news agency, with the participation of Jesús Colina, Editor in Chief and Silvia Costantini, Institutional Relations Manager. http://www.aleteia.org/en