Looking back. Short stories from the Archives
Archivissima 2023 #CarnetdeVoyage
Through a selection of various documents - from the 'Souvenirs des Missions' collection - the video documents the mission of the Ursuline sisters in Siam (now Thailand) between the 1920s and 1950s.
The souvenirs brought back from the missions were intended to illustrate, on the one hand, the variety of geographical, environmental and cultural contexts with which the missionaries came into contact and, on the other, to bear witness to the educational and integration activities carried out by the sisters. The sisters inserted themselves into cultural and religious environments far removed from their own, and always interacted with great respect, trying to identify with the population of the new country that welcomed them. This spirit of adaptation to customs and understanding of the other's way of thinking led the Ursulines to collect, and disseminate, a wide variety of testimonies to recount their physical, spiritual and cultural journey.
Text of the video:
"And lead a new life" (Angela Merici, Ricordi, 7, 1539)
With these words Angela Merici invited the 'colonels' of her Company to educate and to know how to interact as protagonists in the world and in history. This high pedagogical sense has always guided the Ursulines in their educational apostolate, which finds one of its highest forms of realisation in their status as missionaries. The Ursuline Sisters have been called to bring a breath of new life to the ends of the earth by inserting themselves, in a responsible way, into different cultures, with great respect for the diversity of others, both cultural and religious, bringing with them the message of faith, hope and charity.
In 1924, four Ursuline Sisters from the Chinese Mission organised the journey from China to Siam to establish a new mission. On 24th November 1924 they arrived in Bangkok, the capital.
In January 1925 the Ursulines began their apostolate in the 'Calvary Parish School' in the Chinese part of Bangkok. The school was opened for poor, Chinese and Siamese children.
At the request of Bishop Rene Perros, the Ursulines opened another school in Bangkok in 1928 for the Siamese in the upper classes: 'Mater Dei Institute'. The Ursuline schools offered classes with modern equipment and the laboratory helped with history, geography and science. The study of languages was considered of great importance.
In Chieng-Mai, a town about 470 miles from Bangkok and destined to become the centre of the new Catholic Mission in the North, the Ursulines founded a school in 1932. The sisters felt it was important that all the various forms of educational activities that belong to the missionary apostolate were inaugurated in this area of the mission. Therefore, in addition to schools for the upper and middle classes, they organised free courses in schools for children from the poorer classes.
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On 9th June 2023, the eighth edition of La Notte degli Archivi took place, involving archives all over Italy. The Notte degli Archivi, sponsored by ANAI - the Italian National Archival Association, is part of the programme of the Archivissima Festival. The 2023 edition is dedicated to the theme #carnetdevoyage. The initiative is a part of the calendar of Archivissima, the Festival of Archives 8-11 June 2023.
The Archives of the Generalate of the Ursulines of the Roman Union (AGUUR) participates in the event with a video entitled 'Souvenirs des Missions - Mission of the Ursulines of the Roman Union in Siam'. The complete Festival programme is available on the official Archivissima website: