1. The text’s genesis and changes of fortune
As to the origin of the text we have the first-hand 19821
testimony of Fr Giovanni Roatta:
Our Founder wrote Abundantes divitiæ,
the book-summary of his basic inspirations, in these circumstances.
We were approaching the 40th anniversary of our Congregation (1914-1954), and some of us (Fr [Valentino] Gambi, Fr [Renato] Perino, and Fr [Giovanni] Roatta) thought it opportune to take advantage of it to attain a deeper understanding of our Pauline vocation and of our Founder: both for the sake of our members and for the general public. One day I myself [Fr Roatta] presented this idea to the Founder. He replied: ‘Do as the Holy Spirit inspires you. True, we have as yet neither written nor published anything; but I have already had reminders (from Fr Guido Pettinati in Argentina and from others) on the need to make something known about what God has done among us. I think this is the time to do so.’
We looked for other contributors and set to work. For some months we were fully engaged right up to the beginning of 1954.
At one stage Fr Alberione called me and said simply: ‘I would like it to be known and I regard it as important: that after my death there be no more talk about me, but only of Saint Paul: he is our Founder, our model, our father, the one who inspires us. This needs to come out clearly in the work you have started.’ I nodded and we went on with our work. Not long afterwards he called me again and I had another surprise. He showed me a number of rather large-sized originals written in his own small handwriting and then handed them over to me. He said: ‘See if these are of any use to you.’ They were the manuscript of what would become the book Abundantes divitiæ.
We read them with more than passing interest but, with the work so far advanced, we could no longer count much on them in the various articles. Nor was it immediately possible for us to grasp the importance and value of his memoirs.
I kept the manuscript right up to the end of our work which resulted in the publication of the rather large-sized Mi protendo in avanti
(summer of 1954). Then we started putting in order all the material we had used up to that time. Fr Maggiorino Povero, who had contributed to the work as regards the photos, asked me to give him the abovementioned manuscript so as to keep everything in order. I was quite happy to do so. I saw those memoirs re-appear only a long time later [in 1969, on the occasion of the Special General Chapter], when they were published, the first time, for private circulation, for the use of the Chapter members in particular, with the title Io sono con voi
Consequently, reading again and again those simple and sparse pages of Abundantes divitiæ,
I have become more and more convinced of the exceptional importance of those memoirs for our history, for our charism and for our spiritual journey which has seen God bring to birth and give increase to our religious Family.
Divine Master House, Ariccia, 10 January 1980.
The text does not make for easy reading since it is made up primarily of various layers of notes. The first layer is a manuscript (ms)
text consisting of loose sheets, with no fixed numbering; the second is a typewritten (ds)
text which varies in numerous points from the original, but which certainly has the same Alberionian paternity. This represents the second revised drafting.
is a makeup of 39 sheets: 18 measure 18x24 cm; a further 18 measure 11.3x17 cm. Two measure 15x17.8 cm and one is 9.3x14.5 cm. Two of these sheets are cut and glued into four pages. Moreover, of these 39 sheets, 29 are written on one side only; seven are written on both sides; one has on the back the headings of the financial income report for November 1952 while another two have passages crossed out (perhaps a first draft). The written pages thus number 46 (plus two crossed out). Moreover, 31 of the 39 pages have double numbering, while a further eight have three distinct numberings, written by those who attempted to give the pages a logical or progressive historical order.
The first use of the ms
was in view, as we have said, of the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the Pious Society of Saint Paul. We find Fr Alberione’s thinking on this subject expressed also in parallel writings of the time, as in the San Paolo
was then partially used for editing the history photo album Mi protendo in avanti
(1954). In 1969 a more polished version was printed for the use of those taking part in the Special Chapters of the Pious Society of Saint Paul and of the Daughters of Saint Paul. Its title was Io sono con voi.3
In 1971 this text came out with the new title of Abundantes divitiæ gratiæ suæ: Storia carismatica della Famiglia Paolina
[abbreviation AD], edited by Fr Giuseppe Barbero, who published the first factual edition of a historical nature, complete with explanatory footnotes. In the second edition of this work (Rome 1975, pp. 6-7), Fr Barbero added further details on the formation of AD,
where he compared the two drafts of the original, that is, the manuscript text and the typewritten one, seeking to harmonize or to integrate them.
A new critical
edition, enlarged with the addition of numerous appended texts, was published in 1985 and edited by Ezechiele Pasotti and Luigi Giovannini. This edition, part of the new series of the Opera Omnia,
was based on the manuscript
and included a rigorous critical apparatus.
In view of a reprint, we felt it appropriate to adopt not the manuscript text but the follow-up typewritten
text. This had been revised, corrected and approved by Fr Alberione and can be thus considered more in tune with his definitive thought. Likewise, the critical apparatus has been scaled down and excludes all typographical signs except the footnote numbers. The wealth of explanatory and historical notes in the 1985 edition, as well as the appended texts, with the sole exception of the introductory details of some of them, have been retained.