Edna Mary Mac Donald – Maria Domenica Mazzarello and the question of literacy in “Ricerche storiche salesiane”

Maria Mazzarello mother’s ability to read forms one of the key means of her own human, christian and religious development. From the author’s research to date no academic studies have been found which locate and analyse all the known texts Maria Mazzarello read. It is the intention of the author to name these texts.

The examination of each work and its correlation to the correspondence of the Mazzarello are subject matter for further inquiries. The findings of this present investigation will not uncover all the literary sources Mother Mazzarello read but will indicate the major authors she consulted and the orientations which shaped some of her thinking demonstrable throughout her correspondence. To determine how Mother Mazzarello gradually conquered proficiency in reading; to discover with whom she shared the literature; and to investigate what she actually read, three main sources are employed. These are the documentation of Maria Mazzarello’s beatification and canonisation process in the Catholic Church, the summarium; the Chronicles of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and key biographies particularly those written during the twentieth century. The conclusion draws together three areas of exploration: a historical political construction, a socio cultural context and an interesting theory of interpretation.


  • Introduction
  1. Basic literary skills in pursuit of human and christian advancement
  2. Socio-cultural and politico-religious context
  3. A list and an orientation
  • Conclusion

Reference time period: 1837 – 1881

E. M. Mac Donald, Maria Domenica Mazzarello and the question of literacy, in «Ricerche storiche salesiane», 16 (1997), 31, 307-326.

Reference institution:
Istituto Storico Salesiano
Istituto Storico Salesiano

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