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Santospirito, Lena (1895 - 1983)

Italian Star of Solidarity 1958, 2001 Victorian Honour Roll of Women

4 April 1895
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
19 November 1983
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Community worker and Migrant community Advocate
Alternative Names
  • La Mamma degli Italiani (also known as)
  • Virgona, Louisa Angelina (maiden name)


Lena Santospirito was one of the first Italo-Australian women to assume a leadership role in the provision of welfare and community services to Melbourne's Italian community. The Australian born daughter of Italian parents who migrated to Australia in the 1890s, Mrs Santospirito was the first woman (and layperson) to be appointed President of the Archbishop's Committee for Italian Relief. She held this position between 1946 and 1955, a period that coincided with the beginnings of mass migration from Italy to Australia. Her energy and genorosity in this role, as she combined it with her responsibilities as a wife and mother, were recognised by the Italian government in 1958 when she was awarded the Italian Star of Solidarity.

After her resignation from the committee in 1955, Mrs Santospirito continued her community work for various religious and charitable organisations. She passed away in 1983 and is remembered for her tireless work, her faith and the generosity she showed to so many people in Melbourne's Italian community.



Inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Related entries

Of Italian Heritage

Archival resources

Italian Historical Society

Nikki Henningham

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