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Fioretta Mazzei



Fioretta heard tell of La Pira when she was still at Liceo, and joined a group of young people fascinated by his words and the witness he bore. At about twenty years of age Fioretta had already made her fundamental choices, choices of life and of religion. She came of an ancient and wealthy Florentine family, but she renounced a life without money worries and chose to remain poor among the poor. She renounced not only worldly goods but also herself, devoting herself to God by giving to others, to the most needy. She, like La Pira, chose to retain her layperson’s clothing so as to work more effectively in the world far from God. In 1943 La Pira was forced to leave Florence to avoid arrest by the Nazi-Fascist police, and took refuge in the country near Siena, a guest of the Mazzei family. It was during this stay, which lasted three months, that the friendship between the two was established and confirmed.

After the Liberation and following his election to the Constituent Assembly, La Pira, in the course of a dense correspondence from Rome, kept Fioretta informed about the formation of the Charter of the Constitution, thus making her a privileged witness to those times. It was certainly during that period that Fioretta started to take an interest in politics. An interest which took on concrete form in 1951, when as a candidate for the mayorship of Florence La Pira persuaded Fioretta to seek election to the Municipal Council. She was elected, and became a close and valued collaborator of Mayor La Pira. She was to work on all those initiatives promoted by the Mayor which did not have to do with the limited powers of the municipal offices in past years and by that time completely irrelevant. Fioretta Mazzei remained in the Administration of Florence for over 40 years, becoming the doyenne of the Municipal Council and putting at the service of the city both her lively imagination and her gift for transforming it into concrete actions. In the course of the various Administrations of which she was a member, she held the office of Councillor for Public Education, of Culture and of Youth, and finally that of Social Security.

The important posts she held never prevented her from paying daily attention to the poorest of her friends, the young people of the San Frediano quarter where her apostolate began, and in particular the girls given hospitality in her house, for whom she was more than a mother, making herself responsible for their future in life and in the Faith. In this task, as in that of organizing San Procolo (the Charity Mass founded by La Pira in 1934), Fioretta enjoyed the support of a group of friends including Ghita Vogel, Marigù Pelleri and Don Danilo Cubattoli. After La Pira’s death in 1977 Fioretta Mazzei, assisted by Pino Arpioni and Antinesca Tilli, took on the mission of preventing the dispersal of the precious religious, cultural, social and political legacy accumulated by the Professor in the course of his whole life.  To this end she sponsored the establishment of the “Giorgio La Pira Foundation”, over which she presided until her death in 1999. More than any other person, Fioretta may be considered the one who shared La Pira’s Christian, social and political experience. And this sharing was a matter not only of listening, but also of suggesting and stimulating.