The choice of a son to take the vows can be destabilising or it can be welcomed with great enthusiasm: it certainly arouses a series of emotions in the family of the aspiring religious.
In the column we have already spoken of parental consent, which in the past was obligatory for candidates for the novitiate precisely because parents often struggled to accept their son’s vocation and choice of the Society of Jesus, sometimes hindering his entry into the novitiate.
In most cases, the parents serenely signed the consent, sometimes accompanying the communication with a few lines to express their joy.
In some cases, letters have been preserved from some parents writing to their children precisely on the occasion of their entry into the novitiate.
Today we report some passages from the moving and heartfelt letter from the parents of the future Jesuit Fr Pietro Pizzolari.
Legnago, 30 novembre 1869
Beloved Son, and blessed son of St Ignatius,
Your very dear letter of the 23rd of the current month with the copy of the letter of acceptance from the Very Reverend Father Provincial filled us with joy and with the upper part of the Spirit we give thanks to the Lord for so much favour granted to you and to us and we rejoice with you in your joy.
Yes, beloved son, on the day of the Immaculate Conception we will accompany you with Holy Communion at your dressing and with the Holy Sacrifice that will be celebrated for you, we will renew the Sacrifice that we made of our first-born son for the glory of God, for the good of the Holy Church so that he may work much for it.
[…] The poverty that you embrace, yes it is true wealth and the thought of seeing you for the first time in Eppan [all’epoca sede del noviziato] [at that time the seat of the novitiate] with those holy wools brings tears to our eyes. Peter, do not be offended by your humility, but let us say a word to you for your and our own peace of mind: you dear one does not need forgiveness, all parents should have the consolations that we have had from you since you were a child as when you grew up everything was a gift from the Lord, to Him alone be the glory.
And will we then have done our duty, or will we have given you a bad example in our corrections by word or deed? If this were the case, forgive us and in your prayers from the Lord you obtain forgiveness for us and let us speak no more of this, but if in your humility you also desire the forgiveness of your innocent faults we have forgiven you not only now but a hundred, a thousand times.
[…] you pray that everyone will know the Jesuits as they should be known, you understand well, we will let Grandfather know with moderation and feel for his age and infirmity. […]
We congratulate you on the beautiful grace you have received of having entered on the day St. Louis entered. […] If you are permitted to do so, present to the Most Reverend Father Provincial our respectful and cordial thanks for the grace granted us, begging him for the Holy Blessing for us and our family.
Son pray for us that we may never cease to do so for you in the Most Holy Hearts let us always find each other until it is given to us to unite forever in Paradise where we shall no longer be separated, this is what comforts us for these four days that we are in the world. May the Lord bless you, may Mary Most Holy be your Mother, may St Ignatius always be your Father, with the wish we kiss your blessed robe that when you read this you will have worn it.
Part of the letter is written by the novice’s father.
we have word for word what your mother writes to you above. I pray the Lord to give you grace to correspond to the Holy Vocation that has called you and when I have the consolation of seeing you I will gladly hear the reasons that induced you to embrace the Society of Jesus. […] Grandfather has come to know where you are and is very happy, he sends you not one but a thousand blessings. Recommend me to the Lord so that I may always and in all things do his most holy will. In the meantime, receive my blessing and I embrace you.
Your most affectionate Father.
Furthermore, in the list of clothing and objects that the novice had with him when he entered the novitiate, there is the following note: “N. B. The parents declared, that this stuff was to be given for the use of the Novitiate”. They therefore decided that everything their son took with him that he would not be able to use in later years, when he grew up, was to be donated to the novitiate.
On that morning of 9 December 1869, Peter entered the Company at the age of 16.