Nomadelfia rises amid the hills of Mediterranean countryside, south of Tuscany (Grosseto, Italy). There are 300 inhabitants who have chosen the evangelical law of fraternity as their “rule.” This explains its name, a neologism concocted by the combination of the Greek terms nomos and adelphia that mean “fraternity is law.”
“We want to demonstrate that the Gospel can be lived on a social scale, by giving oneself entirely to the others and implementing those principles of justice and fraternity which we chose to abide by, on a path of the sharing of faith and life,” recounted Francesco Matterazzo, current president of the community.
The town is structured into 12 family groups, composed of about 25-30 people. They have a communion of goods, there is private property, and money does not circulate. Work is taken as an act of love for the other and the families are willing to take children into custody. For the Catholic Church, Nomadelfia is a parish composed of families, single laity and priests who share an experience that recalls that of the first communities of the faithful, precisely a stone’s throw from the Etruscan-Roman town of Roselle, an ancient Episcopal seat. Its origin, however, comes from Northern Italy, from the city of Carpi. It was there that around the 1930s, Fr Zeno Saltini started to gather abandoned children and raise them as sons, thus founding the Work of the Little Apostles. Soon other priests joined him, and also Irene, a young student who offered to act as mother to those children. With the approval of the Bishop, Fr. Zeno entrusted the smaller children to her, launching a new consecration path in the Church, that of the “mothers by vocation.” With the end of the war, also many families joined up with Fr. Zeno, and were willing to gather the war orphans and raise them as their very own.
On 14 February 1948, the entire community approved the text of a Charter, which was signed at the altar: so the Work of the Little Apostles became Nomadelfia. After a series of adventurous trials, the “nomadelfians” found a home suitable for the development of the community in the city of Grosseto, in a farm hold donated by the daughter of a renowned Italian businessman.
“Our mission today has not changed,” explains Francesco Matterazzo. “In an ever more connected world that develops new instruments for communication and unity, there are other coexisting realities that deny the dignity of the other and build walls… this is why I think that the proposal of a path of fraternity is important for humanity more than ever! Here in Nomadelfia, families, priests and singles can share a daily life more suitable for man with his natural aspirations for superior values like love, friendship, prayer and contemplation, and socially richer due to the variety of experiences and age brackets.”
It is a community open to the world, and open in sharing the path with other charisms, as testified to by the experience underway with the Focolare Movement: “I hope – he continued – that the road we are taking together, not only for the common expectation of Pope Francis’s visit, and which sets as steps also the participation of our youth in the Genfest on 1 May in Loppiano and the common work for the project of a Prophetic Economy, can be a testimonial also for the Church. The Lord has sown many flowers in this meadow which is the world, and many charisms. I believe we should seek all ways of working together, since this enriches the gift which each one is for humanity.” To underline the words of Materazzo, yesterday, Sunday 22 April, a lively delegation of “nomadelfians” composed of the heads of the town, adults and numerous children visited the Centre of the Focolare Movement. Some joyful hours were spent in a family atmosphere.