“For me the story arose from the request for voluntary collaboration in the rearrangement of the Marian Museum, progressively enriched with elements, in the underground spaces of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.” The request came from the then Rector, Fr Cristian Besso, in agreement with the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime. It involved listing and cataloging “thousands and thousands of pieces, from icons to a fresco of the 1300s, from written texts even to candies wrapped in a picture, placed with affection, but without a museum criterion,” she explains. She collected and restored items that emerged from the remotest corners, work directed by De Vita, work largely carried out by herself, identifying, photographing, packing each object according to specific rules, then placing the items in a warehouse-archive waiting to define their destination.
The passage from the Marian Museum to the Camerette of Don Bosco, his Rooms, a few tens of meters away, was elevated qualitatively-speaking. “I felt a very strong emotional involvement,” De Vita confides, “when I had to stay alone face to face with the objects, open the windows and take with my hands what had passed through Don Bosco's hands ... A powerful involvement,” she underlines.
She participated in many meetings with Fr Á.F. Artime and the special commission he set up. “At the first meeting with the Rector Major, I really understood the scope of the assignment.” In a context like Valdocco, “a giant house, but where nothing goes unobserved,” she carried out her mandate working almost entirely as the only woman among many men. “Always on an equal basis, in a relationship that I can define horizontal,” she continues. “I thought of the figure of Mamma Margaret, she too among many men, and among these many priests, yet active and authoritative with no sense of inferiority, beyond being the mother of Giovanni Bosco ... Inspired by her, I went forward without having the enterprise frighten me, feeling authorized to continue in her spirit, to accompany the activity of the Salesians.”
De Vita graduated from Sapienza University of Rome in Art History and then from Benincasa in Naples in Museology, met the Salesians in Rome during an educational service to bring young migrants closer to art.
For this reason today she says: “I met the figure of the Saint of Youth as an adult and I perceived him as an example to transmit love to the little ones. And I said to myself: 'Look at how Don Bosco takes care of children. Do it too!' And here I am. The Museum will be a house in which we will welcome young people starting from activities, from workshops: they will find here faith, spirituality, art, culture together.”