The Daughters of St Paul: from remembrance to innovation

The Daughters of St Paul: from remembrance to innovation Sr Anna

The Daughters of St Paul, often known as the Pauline Sisters, celebrate the charism and genius of Sr Thecla Merlo, who collaborated with Fr James Alberione in the founding of their order. She was a unique person in the history of the universal Church, as well as in the world of communication and publishing. And this celebration took place in a way that would be pleasing to Sr Thecla: launching an innovative and up-to-date communication project.

Sr Thecla, born Teresa Merlo (1894-1964), after having been a respected seamstress, dedicated all her energies to communication.

With a strong organisational sense, she contributed to the creation of numerous magazines such as La Valsusa, il Giornalino, Via, Verità e Vita, as well as that, which over the years has gained a prominent place among Italian weekly readers – for Catholics and non-Catholics – until it became the most read in the country: Famiglia Cristiana.

She promoted the publication of books, radio broadcasts and films, the production of short films and catechetical records. A generous, modern and innovative Sister.


She had evangelisation and the diffusion of the Word at heart and understood, over the years, how crucial the promotion of culture and information was to promote not only faith but also the integral development of the person, in both human and spiritual growth. She thirsted for peace and justice. At the time, there were few religious women so committed to such an apostolate, much less dedicated to the complex world of publishing and journalism. Hers was a life from another period of time which, however, also has a lot to say to us today. In this contemporary period, she would have not hesitated to address issues of faith and current events on TikTok or to create stories on Instagram.

The Daughters of St Paul are engaged throughout the world in the publication of books and newspapers; they produce music, videos, films, radio broadcasts”

Her earthly existence, which ended on February 5, 1964, at the culmination of a full life spent to communicate the Gospel and spread knowledge and culture, left an indelible mark on the world. She would often repeat: “I would love to have a thousand lives to dedicate them all to this apostolate”.

On January 22, 1991 Sr Thecla Merlo was proclaimed Venerable by St John Paul II. Today the Daughters of St Paul number around 2000 members with 205 communities, present in 50 countries. The activities desired by Sr Thecla continue to expand year after year and, faithful to the charism of ‘being communicators’ like this modern woman and religious sister, the Daughters of St Paul are engaged throughout the world in the publication of books and newspapers; they produce music, videos, films, radio broadcasts; they manage publishing houses and bookstores; they manage websites and social media networks; they carry out professional New Media Education courses and online biblical courses.

Exactly 60 years after her death and on the threshold of the 110th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation, the Daughters of St Paul wanted to celebrate the figure of Sr Thecla and their journey in this century of history, as underlined by the Superior General Sr Anna Caiazza. To do this, they have chosen an original way, in line with the communication style of the co-foundress: scrollytelling, “an innovative tool that allows us to preserve together the safeguarding of our roots and to project towards the future of our mission in the world of communication.” “This project was a dream,” she added “that we in the general government nurtured from the very first days of our mandate, and it is a loving tribute to this mother who was an incredible communicator. We felt it was important to make known this innovative woman capable of penetrating the complex world of communication towards which, especially in Sr Thecla’s time, there was much suspicion within the Church. If today the Church can also boast of many means of expression, it is also due to this woman.”


The launching of this project and its presentation to the public and the press took place, Sunday, June 16, in a packed lecture hall at the Pauline Sisters’ house in Rome.

It is a beautiful example of communion between those who conceived it, those who use it and, in this case, Sr Thecla”

One of the speakers at the launch of the scrollytelling project was Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication. “Scrollytelling,” he said, “has this special feature; you cannot do it alone and it helps us to understand that digital is not only for dividing but for uniting, bringing together languages, people, memories, and involving in an active way not just passive. It is a beautiful example of communion between those who conceived it, those who use it and, in this case, Sr Thecla, and it shows that communication and communion are intrinsically linked.”


Scrollytelling, still little used in Europe, is a new method of telling the story of a congregation, of its founders, as well as of any other context. An extraordinary tool that makes the most of the potential of technology and aims to put those who use it in direct contact with the subject of the story, in an immersive and interactive experience

“This project,”  says Paolo Pellegrini, CEO of Mediacor, the communications agency that created the project “is not a point of arrival but a starting point. We trust that it will be a tool for good communication all over the world. We wanted to tell the story in an original and effective way and we thought of an innovative language that is still little used. A tool that allows a user to scroll and get involved in an intuitive narrative. Something that can convey information and emotions at the same time.”