Daniel Comboni was born on 15 March 1831 at Limone sul Garda, then a village in the north-east of Italy, on the Lake Garda. He was the fourth and the only surviving child out of eight born of his parents, Luigi and Domenica.
His father, Luigi Comboni, was a gardener at ‘Tesoul’, a property belonging to a magistrate of the area. The Comboni family lived next to this property, in a modest house, as we can see in the photo, but still standing in a good state.
The name “Limone” comes from the lemons grown in the area. ‘Tesoul’ was a lemon grove. Daniel grew up in this simple and poor surroundings, where he attended two years of primary school.
At the time, the political and social milieu was not a peaceful one. The Austrian Empire ruled over a large area of northern Italy and the Italians were demanding independence and unity for their country.
Daniel’s parents did their best to give him a Christian upbringing by their commitment and testimony of their faith and by the witness of a Christian family life.
From his Writings:
“It seemed to me only last night, when I was still very young; it seemed only last night when as a small boy I was learning on my mother’s knees how to make the sign of the cross, or when from the famous valley of Tesou, where I breathed my first gasps of life, I used to set off all by myself to visit your outstanding patriarchal family to learn the a, b, c of the Italian language under the well known teacher D.
Pietro, your dear uncle, who with the patience of Job, the determination of a German and, more often than not, the assistance of a punishing stick, for the considerable monthly wage of 75 cents, concentrated with energy on my education.”
Letter to Dr. Benedetto Patuzzi, 15 March 1858, from the Kich Tribe in Central Africa. Writing n. 342.