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A woman from our time

Vittoria Maioli Sanese

I am going to talk about a woman from our time, not from the past.

Vittoria Maioli Sanese died on 18 January this year.

Looking at how she lived through the months of illness and how she prepared for death helps to understand who Vittoria was and how she lived. I call her by name because she was a great friend.

From Rimini, she was 80 years old when she died, married and the mother of six children, two adopted.

She founded and led the UCIPEM-affiliated Family Advice Bureau for 50 years.

Psychologist, couple and family psychologist. She has dedicated her life to accompanying fathers, mothers, couples, children in the vicissitudes of life, in a great listening and attention to the person.

“Everything that I am – so how I treat me, how I treat feelings, how I treat my son, how I treat my work, my friends, the world, reality and life – radiates on the son, who by absorbing, so to speak, my image, learns who he is, learns his identity.”

In addition to her clinical work, she has led reflection and training groups for parents, social workers, educators and psychologists. She has carried out research work on the couple and the family from a cultural and anthropological perspective, always questioning the identity of the person.

She dedicated her whole life to this: on her weekly trips to Milan, she occupied her train journey time for phone calls with people looking for her; in the last few months, now in a wheelchair, she continued to work with online interviews …

Very strict: it was not easy to stand in front of her judgements, because she always went to the root of being, of existence. She cared about the person, in his mystery.

“Is it bad to desire everything?

Why then is there the infinite sky?

What about me?

Is it evil to surrender one’s whole person to another?

But then what is love?

What about me?”

“Night and day, childhood and old age, life and death, man and woman, infinity and limit, eternity and end, 

everything and nothing … everything, everything has its different, its opposite, and therefore we know, we speak, we reason, therefore questions arise, questions of meaning, to orient oneself, to understand, to communicate, to unfold life step by step.

Until its fulfilment.”

She looked at others as she looked at herself; she sought for others what she sought for herself.

When she discovered illness, she did not consider it an enemy to (her) life, but “a reality to be welcomed and lived to the full.”

“I seek meaning with all the passion I have always put into the search for truth.

What I am experiencing has not affected my serenity and certainty for one second, on the contrary, my joy has increased, because this unexpected guest allows me to come face to face with Christ present.”

Paola Boncristiano



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