Italian monastery becomes a destination for bargain-seeking brides

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Wednesday 12, February 2014 | Category:   Consecrated Life
SISTER MARIA LAURA, a seamstress before entering
the monastery, assists a bride with her dress.
Photo: Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.
For years the monastery of St. Rita in Cascia has operated a secondhand wedding dress depot, once frequented mostly by young women from disadvantaged families. Why? Because, says the New York Times, “The monastery—once home to Saint Rita, an abused bride and a widow before becoming a nun about 600 years ago—has long been a pilgrimage site for Italian women, who come to pray to the saint to protect their marriages. The collection, as it were, began when some women brought their wedding dresses as an offering of thanks.

“But as Italy continues to suffer from the fallout of a prolonged recession, what was begun as an act of charity for a few young women in need has become a trendy choice for growing numbers of brides who want to keep their wedding costs down.

“In the process, the atelier has become a full-time job for Sister Maria Laura, who oversees an expanding collection of donated wedding gowns—now numbering in the hundreds—in various sizes, train lengths, and styles.

“But choosing her dress at the St. Rita monastery was not merely an economic transaction,” one bride said. “I’ve felt at home here from the very first minute,” she said. “After all, nuns have a calling. Love is a calling, too.”

The full story in the New York Times.
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