…for strong as death is love
I was born in Genoa, raised in Milan, matured in Rome. Wherever I feel loved, I’m at home. I was born on November 21, 1994, the day of Mary’s presentation at the temple. My mother decided to give birth in her home city. This saved my life. The doctors of the Gaslini Hospital extracted me from the womb using forceps. The umbilical cord was choking me and preventing me from coming to the light. I was flooded with the love of my parents and all my relatives and friends. Life spoke clearly: it won’t be easy, but it will be beautiful. As a child good things kept on coming. My brother Jacopo was born. Life was smiling at us. My parents split up. I was seven and my brother was five. I tried to escape. I started running. The pain caught up with me over the next few years, in a stabbing way. Yet, between a world where my parents hadn’t met and a world with a divorce and two more children, I prefer the latter. I started going to catechism in the year of Martini’s resignation as bishop of Milan. The Jesuits would later on get to me in another way. I received the sacraments because of tradition. I was happy because these occasions brought the family together. It’s a celebration. All together. A taste of Paradise. I attended the best scientific high school in Milan. I fell in love with Dante, Dostoyevsky, Pasolini. The Church reached me through the movement of Communion and Liberation. I voted for the student union. I fell in love, in the summer, in England. She was from Verona. Too beautiful to be overcome by the geographical distance. We got together and got to know each other. Slowly. We were inexperienced and shy. Last year of high school: a classmate of mine died on a snowboard. From a Catholic family, rebellious and president of the Student council. He passed on his life to us. His mother spoke at his funeral. She now has five children and her husband died of a heart attack three months earlier. “May I say yes to you again today, like Mary,” she said it in tears. Life conquers death. Christ is truly risen, hallelujah. Three days later, I fell in love with a girl from my high school. The fruits of “sister death.” My last resistance to God was shattered. But I kept running away. I applied for business school at Bocconi. I got engaged. I moved out from home. I was the center of my life. I wanted to do it myself. I refused free love, I wanted to deserve it. I collapsed under the weight of my ego. I died spiritually. Anguish and terror. Despair. The Lord incarnated himself and came to meet me in my suffering. I took a trip with a friend to California. I couldn’t sleep from anxiety. I said an Our Father and I collapsed from exhaustion. The next day, on the mountain, the Lord kissed me: “Don’t be afraid. I love you for who you are. You don’t have to deserve anything. Be yourself and choose what you love”. I enrolled in the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy at “La Sapienza” University in Rome. A liberating and welcoming city. Contractualism and meritocracy don’t exist there. Thank goodness. I was allowed to be weak. I could weave relationships without fear of others’ judgments. I could be myself. I studied poetry, Latin, history, art and cinema. A Gallehault was the University Chapel of “La Sapienza”. Gallehaults were the Jesuits who spoke of the Love of Jesus and not of rules to be respected. According to the “law” everything would have been easier. I was starting a journey. I was already praying, even before, but without knowing it. I was given the tools to understand what I lived. I was no longer at the mercy of my emotions. I began to give a name to what I felt. I found that what I was looking for on the outside was already inside me. Deep inside. I dived into the spiritual life. I slowed down. I stopped. A peace that lifts up. A sending. I fell in love. One more time. This time with a man. Jesus. A love that has no boundaries. That leads you out to others. To set you on your way. Pilgrim for love. The more I walk, the higher the bar rises. It doesn’t matter. I love Him too much. He slowly frees me from myself. He loves me. For free. I can finally follow what I am, what He is in me, without fear. I feel forgiven. I don’t have to live up to it. I just have to let myself be carried. Let go. As one kiss pulls the other, I fall more and more in love with my Beloved. I must tell about this love to others. I can’t do without it anymore. I have to live for this love. To give my life. “The greatest gesture of love is to give your life for your brothers.” On September 26, 2019, Thursday, the day of Saints Cosmas and Damian, I graduated in Romance studies at “La Sapienza” University. Two days later, a Saturday, I entered the novitiate in Genoa. The circle closes. A new life begins.