Paula was born in Genoa in 1809 in an area known as, Borgo Lanaioli.
Her father, a man of the old stock, was deeply religious.
He was a cloth merchant. Her mother an uncomplicated, gentle woman was soon to leave Paula an orphan.
Paula grew up in a time in history in which the clash between the old and new ideologies was strong and violent.
The ideas of liberty, independence, and democracy advocated by the Italian revival augured a new type of government.
The appearance of technology gave rise to a new economical and social system.
It was a time of transition. Once old supports were removed, new ones were being looked for. Tensions and clashes were inevitable.
Paula was fully aware of the era she was living in.
Many around her proclaimed violent revolution in order to achieve a renewed society, Paula preferred the Gospel revolution, which achieves results through Love. A top priority of this time was the advancement of women. Paula understood this and responded by educating girls to become in the first place women and then Christian women.
She spent her adolescence in the family, helping in the managing of the home and receiving some home schooling from her father who refused to send her to school.
Later in her life she told the Sisters that she learned a lot by listening to the conversations between her father and her four brothers.
All her brothers eventually became priests. She loved to be with her elder brother Joseph, who shared with his sister all he had learned in his theological studies and in his daily contact with people. It was in these meetings that a common ideal gradually developed. The Lord would eventually make Joseph and Paula two great apostles.
The influence of the family on Paula’s future choices was decisive.
God’s works of art do not happen on the spur-of-the moment. They are the fruit of a slow maturing process one which, in normal circumstances, starts and develops within the family.
The relationships that are established and the ethos that is absorbed, are basic in the development of the person.
Paula always maintained that the family is the first and fundamental educative community.
Later on Paula would entrust, to her religious family, the duty to “revive in Christian parents the commitment to the moral and religious education of young girls..”..