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The Sons and the Sanctuary
On 24 February 1951, she writes again, “The Good Jesus has told me … that the moment has come to realize the foundation of the Congregation of the Sons of his Merciful Love, and the first one of them will be Alfred di Penta.” After the initial shock, Alfred joyfully accepts the Lord’s plans. At his age, he had to go study in the Seminary of Viterbo; although this was not easy for him, a few years later, he celebrated his First Mass in the Sanctuary of Collevalenza.
On 15 August 1951, in the chapel of the Sisters in Rome, the first Sons of Merciful Love made their first vows. Then, three days later, on 18 August, they and a few Sisters settled in Collevalenza, a small village in the Italian region of Umbria.
The baggage was always the same: great faith, enormous joy and the firm determination to follow the Lord’s indications, if necessary, up to the end of the world. How many times did she ask the Lord, “Why did you bring me here?” Today, the answer is clear.
This village had less than a thousand inhabitants, most of who lived in farmhouses. It was well known in the region for its little forest of oak trees, the “Roccolo,” where hunters used to fill their sacks with birds they caught in their nets. That is where Jesus gave her the first explanation, “Esperanza, we are going to transform this ‘roccolo’ into a place to capture souls. They will come here in flocks, as numerous as these birds. Here, they must come to know me better.”