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troubled at the situation of the dressmakers and other women workers in Turin. Thework schedules of the dressmakers were very flexible, depending on the orders and thedeadlines for completing them. The work was often prolonged into the night hours and546Atti del primo Congresso Internazionale dei Cooperatori Salesiani, Torino, Tipografia Salesiana,1895, 187-188.547Uncertain information in Auffray, 252-257; more certain in Ceria, Vita, 437-438.253
continued on Sundays, if the client demanded it. Their physical and moral conditionworried her a lot. With the help of some generous people, Cesarina founded an Oratory,thus meeting one of their expressed requests. Fr Rua, to whom she turned for advice,was not satisfied with giving mere suggestions, he sent her priests for the celebration ofMass and for conferences. The most successful conference was one given by Fr StephenTrione in the St. Barbara church, in fact, the church turned out to be too small for thethrong that attended it. The preacher enchanted the public. It was thus that, there andthen, a Society for the Mutual Aid of Young Catholic Female Workers was created. Thefollowing year Fr Rua succeeded in getting the Daughters of Mary Help of Christiansto make two of their houses available to the workers during the summer, at Giaveno inthe foothills of the Alps, and at Varazze on the Riviera, so that for a few days the youngwomen workers could breathe in the fresh mountain or sea air.Cesarina extended her work beyond Turin. She sought support and Fr Rua helpedher. ‘As regards Miss Astesana,’ he wrote in 1904 to the rector of the community inFlorence, ‘ you can assure the Marchioness Alfieri that she is a person worthy of theutmost trust. She is working on a project worthy of great interest on the part of goodpeople, namely, that of protecting young women workers, making sure that they gettheir Sundays off work, and preventing them from being exploited by excessiveworking hours to the detriment of their physical and moral health, etc.’ With theencouragement of Cardinal Richelmy and the blessing of the Pope, the work spread andconsolidated to the benefit of the young workers. In her difficulties, Cesarina Astesanahad recourse to Fr Rua who never failed to advise and support her. In 1901 the NationalSociety for the Protection and Mutual Aid of Young Female Workers was born. By1906, it counted 1505 patronesses and 15,168 workers and in 1910, at the death of FrRua, the number had tripled. The strike at the Anselmo Poma worksNevertheless, the suggestions in the Rerum novarum were of slow implementation.The early years of the century were marked by disturbances in the industrializedregions. The socialists rightly demanded a reduction in the working hours in thefactories. The Italian parliament debated the questions of women’s work and childlabour. When they believed it necessary the workers went on strike. But the Christiantrade union did not easily give into their force. In this regard, the troubles encounteredin Turin in the Anselmo Poma textile mill between May and July 1906 are significantand from a certain point of view Fr Rua was also involved.