After a meeting with a missionary group I was in Alexandria and when going towards the railway station to take the train that would take me back to Turin I found a church along the way and stopped to go in and ‘greet’ Christ the Divine Physician. On the right hand side of the entrance of this church on a bench I found small pictures of the (then) Servant of God Mother Teresa Michel Grillo. I took one of them and in the warmth of that small habitation of Christ I discovered the holiness of this woman whom I did not know about. Her very kind-hearted picture, her hand directed towards her chin and her celestial and ‘Piedmontese’ smile struck me. Her picture was reflected automatically in the red cross that we Camillians wear on the front of our Congregational cassock. It was a real discovery: Mother Michel is a female version of St. Camillus. After a married life and as a widow she consecrated herself to the last, to the homeless, to the sick: a true conversion to CHARITY, just like Camillus who was a mercenary soldier but whom Christ struck with lightening on the road that led to Manfredonia.
For twenty-six years I have been in this small strip of African land which makes up the frontier with the Sahara desert: Burkina Faso (formerly the Upper Volta), where I practise the Camillian charism, that is to say LOVING, COMFORTING AND HEALING our sick brothers and sisters (we Camillians are priests, brothers, medical doctors, nurses, health technicians and everything there is in terms of Samaritan charity).
Being from Piedmont like Mother Michel, after the encounter with her in Alexandria (a virtual encounter) I was able to obtain material on this Blessed and I began to disseminate her loveable profile as a WOMAN full of Love and compassion. This was very easy given that I examine as a paramedic one hundred patients every day, including many terminally ill people suffering from AIDS, lepers, etc. In the clinic, near to the medical products, to the phonendoscope, etc., I have pictures in French of the MOTHER, and with a medical product and words of hope I give the little picture of the Mother to the patients, certain that SHE will manage to do what I cannot manage to do.
This is a devotion to the Mother, a love, that is very simple, in the African style. I have seen her effigy smiling in huts, the homes of the Africans, and I have even seen it on the dry land of their poor graves. And I saw the Mother infusing courage, hope, and trust because God loves us, wants our wellbeing: God is merciful and Providence, LOVE.
I see the Blessed who when she was young, next to a cart with a donkey, went round the back roads of Piedmont to feed the poor and I am here in these African desert lands to look for and bring out into the open very many poor people, sick people and lonely people, and once again my CAMILLIAN RED CROSS is reflected in the emblem of the ostensory that the Mother wore sown onto the blue scapula of her holy habit.
Thank you Mother because you were, and you are, a witness to the most sublime and heroic Charity; thank you because you traversed the seas to bring your daughters to people thirsting for good, for justice, for fairness and above all else for your compassionate charism.
The sick poor of Burkina Faso (which translated into English means ‘Country of Integral Men’) love you and ask you to be at their side.
Br. Giovanni Grigoletto – Burkina Faso