From Pia Opera to Hospice for Homeless Incurables
The 1920s marked a further, crucial development of the Opera. Premises were bought in Via Bixio, and there gradually emerged the scope of the project God was suggesting to Don Lillo. In 1926 the “Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù” clinic was launched.
It was dedicated to St Therese of Lisieux, who died in 1897 at the age of 24 and was canonised in 1925; and this was a watershed. There is a “little way” to be followed in order to answer God’s call. Therese, who was eventually proclaimed Doctor of the Church in1997, had written: “It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift that will carry me to Heaven! So there is no need for me to grow up – on the contrary, I must remain little and become ever littler”. For Don Lolli, this was enough: Therese was to protect the present and the future of the Opera.
On 25 January 1928 the St Therese of Lisieux Hospice for Homeless Incurables opened its doors: Maria Belletti was appointed its first director. 1929 also saw the inauguration of the pharmacy, this too named for St Therese of Lisieux. In 1930 the structure began to take in 50 chronically sick individuals and elderly priests.
The first stage had been achieved; Don Lolli was 40 years old.
“The Hospice for Homeless Incurables is a refuge for that special category of the unfortunate who, struck down by the most wretched poverty and the most dismal neglect, cannot be taken in by the city poorhouses because they are ill, and not even by the Hospital, because they are suffering from illnesses that are not temporary and treatable, but incurable and chronic.”
Don Angelo Lolli (from the Editorial of the “Amico degli Infermi”, January 1928)