Rome will leave a deep and lasting mark on your soul, if you take advantage of your time here. And it will teach you to be more faithful children of the Church and to have a more supernatural love for the Holy Father. (St. Josemaria Escriva)
In 1969, the Dominican Sisters of Bethany of Venlo, Netherlands, opened the Villaggio Betania on land near to their home at St. Catherine Convent. From 1969-1999 the Villaggio Betania (Bethany Village), operated as a children’s home welcoming children in difficulty and from troubled families. In addition to the resident children, the sisters also operated a day school and after school programs for the local children of Bracciano. The vision of the sisters was to provide a home for the children and a place where they could love and be loved, a place where they could grow.
The property consisted of different small houses (“casas”) where the children lived family style, a school building, a convent, a chapel, and large open yards in which the children could play. All of this with a view overlooking Lake Bracciano in one direction, and an historic castle in the other direction. Many of the children, now adults, maintain a deep friendship and connection with the sisters and the Villaggio Betania. They refer to themselves as the “ex-citizens” and recount beautiful stories of their days there with both tears and laughter.
In their own words they describe the Villaggio Betania in this way:
The Villaggio Betania was for many a starting point for a new life transmitted not only through learning, but also through love for one another, for nature, and for a new family. The Dominican Sisters of Bethany, with much sacrifice, nurtured and loved hundreds of children, educating them, comforting them, and above all giving them what they needed to feel like other children who were more fortunate to come from stable families.
There were never days of suffering, nothing was lacking from breakfast to dinner, there were warm beds and everything was in order from beautiful Sundays to days of student, from times of fun to prayer.
Casa Rosa and Casa Girasole were houses where love and family warmth were never lacking. Our Sisters were our guardians. They sacrificed themselves for us, as mothers, providing everything that we needed.
In 2013, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia purchased Villaggio Betania and with it received the beautiful foundation of love and joy established by the Dominican Sisters of Bethany. Although no longer a home for children, Villaggio Betania continues to be a place to grow in faith and friendship.
Villaggio Betania has a two-fold mission. First, it is a religious house where the sisters can live Dominican life in the vicinity of Rome and engage in the apostolate of the community, both in Rome and in Bracciano itself. Secondly, Villaggio Betania is a center for the New Evangelization. At the Villaggio the sisters welcome individuals and groups for spiritual retreats, pilgrims and all those who wish to be hosted in a beautiful place to reflect, pray and deepen their relationship with God. The Villaggio Betania does not carry out commercial and profit-making hospitality.
For more information or to plan a visit please write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.