Chiesa Vergini, Cosenza has a refuge for mothers and children on the run

“Have you been to the sea?”. “Yes that!” Fabiana points her finger at a wall. You approach and understand what it indicates. A sea landscape in a wooden frame. She is almost two years old and is one of the small tenants in the group homefor minors and women in difficulty, which is based in the complex of the Virgins of Cosenza.

Twenty guests in total, full rooms. anyway there is an unreal silence between the square monastery, the courtyard and the church, built in the early decades of the sixteenth century, designed by the master builder of Crati Valley Domenico La Cava. Fabiana has long straight hair and a mariana face.
This place has a women’s story. Its symbol could be “Madonna of Tenderness”, exhibited on a smaller altar in the church. It is one of the oldest works in the whole city, a Byzantine style icon from the end of the thirteenth century, probably made by Giovanni da Taranto, similar and different from Madonna del Pilerio in the Bruzio Cathedralsaid galactrophosisbecause breastfeeding.

The Madonna Odigitria, the Byzantine icon of the Church of the Virgin

This Virgo Hodegetria instead she does not breastfeed her baby, she introduces him to the world and points at him with one hand and rests her cheek on his head. An unfairly lesser known painting that alone would be enough to attract travelers and tourists in quantity.

Lowering the rope: escape from love

Another symbol of the site is the eighteenth-century wooden choir of the Cistercian nuns. A balcony decorated with angel heads, supported by a vault of gilded stucco. Since 1811, the monastery has hosted orphaned girlswho, when they fell in love, tried to escape by descending from a window, thus giving the name to one of the mythical places of popular toponymy: the area of ​​Calata della corda, between via Liceo and Piazza dei Follariwhere there was once the silk cocoon market.

Monastery and orphanage

The complex and articulated building was a monastery, an orphanage, an educational institute for women. Today it belongs to the Santa Maria delle Vergini Private Law Foundation, led by Alessandra De Rosa. In addition to the family home, there is a Montessori kindergarten, which is administered by the association PappaMusik. The children in the bilingual nursery and kindergarten play in the convent with the family’s young guests.
The complex is part of Palazzo Sersale, built in the late 15th centurya major protagonist in the city’s history, why it hosted Emperor Charles V.

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Largo Vergini

The art of sewing with the Ukrainian teacher

Fates sewn and braided. In this framework of narratives are workshop “The art of sewing”, housed in the department’s old refectory. The teaching ended in June and now an exhibition is being prepared. To guide students, of different nationalities and ages, from twenty to seventy years, is The Ukrainian costume designer Natalia Kotsinska. The associations “Masks and face”dealing with theater, e.g. “Anteas”, active in volunteer work, coordinating the project. “Although the catchment area was varied, the trainees integrated perfectly,” he explains Imma Guarasciartistic director of “Masks and Face”.
«Even those who initially had difficulty communicating because of the language found a way to integrate, as in the case of two young Syrians. A good thing is that in the choice of fabrics and colors for the realization of the clothes, each of them has managed to regain elements of the tradition in their home country “, explains Imma Guarasci, satisfied with an experience born both to provide professional skills, both for to bring together women with difficult backgrounds.

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Costume designer Natalia Kotsinska leads the cycling class

There are no more nuns at the Virgos. “Daughters of Sant’Anna” arrived in 1887, after the Cistercian nuns had been raised. The last two sisters lived here until September last year. They brought back many memories, names and stories of girls who grew up within these walls.

A haven for mothers and children

Gina naked he knew them well. She is the dean of educators. He has been here for twenty years.
When we welcome the women associated with the nursing home, we first and foremost try to reassure them. They are of different nationalities, they are all scared when they arrive. Ours is a difficult job, but you need to use your heart and your rules in the right goal every day. Creating a family, actually. Me and my colleague, Giovanna Maiowe take care of everyday life, we entertain the little oneslet’s listen to the dramatic events, we guide mothers and children on the path of rebirth. “Sometimes they return to the environments they had fled from, and that is a great sorrow.”

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Educator Gina Nudo

In many cases, however, Gina continues and her face lights up, they find their own way. “Often, when the court’s award period ends, they want to come back to us. This means that we have managed to build a network of protection and devotion ».
Sonia, 40, is here with her teenage daughter. In their room there are books, some memories, no photographs. “When we ran away from our house, I did not think of objects, the important thing was to save ourselves.”

Fabiana smiles again

Little Fabiana’s mother, a very young woman from an Eastern European country, stands in a corner of the room, listening and nodding. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve smiled again – Sonia says, – because I have resumed trusting those around me ».
“I can say the same thing”, Fabiana’s mother intervenes: “In this place I met my daughter for the first time, I dedicate myself to her, I see her reborn, she plays, laughs, talks, eats meatballs, while before she refused to chew“.

Tricycles from the little guests who go to kindergarten

The living room is in a cloud of spicy scents. Afia, African woman, he cooks for himself. It competes with the historic chefs in the family home, sisters Spadafora, Rosanna and Beatricewhich they nurture with love.

Faith, beauty and solidarity

The ancient history of this place continues, in a multiethnic key, his worldly hymn to the Madonna, testified to the precious works preserved in the church by a single nave. The altarpiece that decorates the main altar encloses a double representation in a rich golden frame: a rare image of the dying Mary and her ascension into heaven. A work from the sixteenth century that is probably unknown to many people from Cosenza, such as the Byzantine icon of tenderness. The church’s wooden portal, in Baroque style, is full of figures inlaid by Rogliano stonemasons in the late seventeenth century. The monasterywhere Montessori school growth games are spread today over fifteen years ago it was the set for the film “Giuseppe Moscati. Love That Heals”, by Giacomo Campiotti, starring Beppe Fiorello and Kasia Smutniak.

A rare work of art: The Ascension of the Virgin

Many lives have passed from here, but it is still a treasure trove of mystery and silence. No one speaks loudly once they cross the threshold.
From here we set off with a purpose: to return. On the stone portal overlooking Largo Vergini, under the image of San Bernardo di Chiaravalle, the educator Gina naked he greets and seems to read thoughts: «Come back soon».

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