Melli Ida Tiziana

Ida Tiziana Melli was born 26 March 1909 to a mixed couple from Padua: her Jewish father Alfredo (1870-1952), who had been a renown director of the local newspaper Il Veneto for forty years, and her Catholic unnamed mother. She had two sisters who were both married to Catholics and raised their children as Catholics. One of the sisters died shortly before December 1938. Surrounded by her Catholic relatives and in view of marrying a Catholic, Ida herself decided to convert and was in the process of spiritual preparation to her baptism at the Sant’Andrea Church in Padua, when the racial laws hit the Italian Jews. According to the governmental provision from 10/6/1938 she was considered Jewish because her baptism took place after the established deadline, 1 October 1938. Consequently, Ida was fired from her teaching position at the P. F. Calvi Institute in Padua, which she held for eleven years.

    Melli had used her teaching skills also in propaganda conferences and courses for Fascist women that were organized by the Padua Female Branch of the Fascist Party, to which she belonged. With the governmental support, Melli wrote too a number of Italian tourist guides, as she highlighted in her signed application letter from 19 December 1938.

    The bishop of Padua advocated her case in a letter to Cardinal Secretary of State Pacelli (two months later to become Pope Pius XII) who immediately forwarded the pertinent documentation of Melli (together with that of Giulia Allatini, Hevla Meyerhof, and Margherita Lausch) to Tacchi Venturi. The latter interceded with Undersecretary Buffarini in a letter from 1/4/1939 but no governmental reply is to be found in the Jesuit’s archive. Apparently, Ida Tiziana Melli was unrelated to Roberto Melli and Gustavo Melli, whose applications for “discrimination” are extant in the same archive.

    From the documents of the Municipality of Padua it results that Ida Tiziana Melli, who died 8/3/2003, left to the city an inheritance of 800,000,000 Liras (ca. 400,000 Euros) to be used—among other charitable works—for the institution founded by Ida's father, Alfredo, who survived the Holocaust. His charitable initiative of distributing lunch and alms to the poor during Christmas time, which he began back in 1905, bears his name until today: “Christmas Lunch Alfredo Melli.”[1]