Nun who hid Jewish family honoured

Family pays tribute to Italian nun who hid them from the Nazis

By Robyn Rosen, March 25, 2010
A statue of Madre Tribbioli in front of the convent where she hid the family

A statue of Madre Tribbioli in front of the convent where she hid the family

An Italian nun who hid a Jewish family in her convent during the Second World War has been awarded posthumously with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Madre Maria Agnes Tribbioli was nominated for the Yad Vashem honour by Cesare Sacerdoti, of Brondesbury, who was rescued by her when he was five years old.

Florence-born Mr Sacerdoti, 72, went into hiding with his mother and younger brother, Vittorio, on November 6 1943, after the Florence synagogue was raided and vandalised by German SS and Jews were rounded up.

They went to a convent in Via dei Serragli where Madre Tribbioli, the founder of the congregation of the Pie Operaie di San Giuseppe, gave them shelter with other Jewish women and their children.

"At that time we had nowhere else to go and we would have been captured like many other Jews," Mr Sacerdoti said. "We were given refuge and food, and we children were integrated into the kindergarten and school run by the convent.

"The motivation of Madre Tribbioli was a selfless readiness to help persecuted people.

"Madre Maria did so aware of the danger in sheltering us. For this reason she did not tell the other nuns who the 'guests' were, so that they would not be exposed to danger to the same extent. She simply told them that we were all displaced people: at that time in war-torn Italy, there were so many."

Cesare Sacerdoti remained at the convent for almost three weeks before being collected by his father, Simone, one of the ministers of the Jewish community.

He then stayed at an orphanage in Montecatini until Florence was liberated in 1944 and he was returned to his parents.

Last week, Mr Sacerdoti travelled with his family from London, where he has lived for 42 years, to attend a ceremony at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

More than 500 people attended the ceremony, including the mayor of Florence, the city's archbishop and chief rabbi, and the political and foreign affairs representative of the Israeli Embassy in Rome.

Madre Marta Lombardi, successor Mother
General of the congregation, accepted the Yad Vashem
medal on behalf of Madre Tribbioli.

Last updated: 2:23pm, March 25 2010