When Teresina Elsa Mainetti was born in Colico on Lake Como in 1939, everything was close together, peace and war, life and death.

Her parents had moved from a mountain village to the valley because they thought things could be easier there. They bought land, built a four-room house and a stable for two cows and a few calves. They had children, not all of them survived. The blue lake in front of her house and the dark mountains behind it.

Then the war broke out and a day later the mother, Marcellina Gusmeroli, died at the age of 31. The doctors had warned her that she might not survive another birth. Teresina was their tenth child. It lay there, small and sick, as if it would stop breathing at any moment.

“Why did the Lord take Marcellina from me?” the father, Stefano Mainetti, is said to have said. “Couldn’t he have taken that newborn?”

“Don’t say things like that,” replied the midwife. “Trust the Lord.”

And the father trusted. This is what it says in one of the many books that would later be written about the life of his daughter Teresina Elsa Mainetti.

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