THOUGHT FOR TODAY BY
ST. ANTHONY ZACCARIA
If through perfect humility you will be able to know objec tively yourself, only then will you be.
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Bethlehem, PA 18020
Menologion - January
I wish I could see you fly, not just run through the thorny and narrow path of evangelical perfection: these are my burning desires. But the Supreme Giver of every good, following the ordinary course of his ways, offers us the choice to climb step by step toward the summit of the sacred Mount which, with full trust in God’s Goodness, I am sure you will reach happily... The Grace of Jesus Christ is with you: keep going then on the course on which you have started, and do not be afraid, that our divine Mother will be of comfort on the way.
May the Lord watch over you and bless you. May He turn his divine face toward you: may He give you peace: may He free you from sin: may He increase His love in you. And may He grant you the great gift of perseverance.
(St. Francis Xavier Bianchi)
It was with a winning smile that a tall and good-looking Norwegian stood watching the procession which went through the streets of Desseldorf on Corpus Christi, 1854. When the crowd fell on their knees, Karl Schilling could not help but smile where he stood straight and tall with a big black artist’s hat on his head. Suddenly his hat received a blow which sent it across the street. Karl was embarrassed and a little self-conscious as he went home to his friends, the Eitels, who were a very devout Catholic family. The young daughters courageously and tactfully explained to him Whom he had dishonored. Schilling apologized.
Karl was 19 years old and a good-natured young man who had been well brought up, even religiously. He had become a very good friend with William Eitel who, instead of just speaking about his religion, suggested that Karl attend Mass with him to make it easier to explain matters. When William explained the Sacrament of Penance to Karl, Schilling felt the definite call to become a Catholic. He, therefore, started a program of formal instruction, and his reception into the Catholic Church took place six months later on November 11, 1854. At this time, he also received Our Lord for the first time in the Holy Eucharist.
Karl’s father, captain Gottlieb Schilling, had written a long letter to him. Although he was not pleased that Karl had become Catholic, he desired nothing but his son’s happiness. And so, in the summer of 1855, he received him back home with unaltered love and affection. Karl went back to his old master Eckersberg and painted with him regularly. On his way to the studio, he went to Mass in the church of St. Olav every morning.
In 1864 the church of St. Olav was entrusted to the Barnabite Fathers who assigned the Norwegian Fr. Paul Stub and two Italian Fathers to the new mission. One day, while visiting Karl’s studio, Fr. Tondini suggested to the young painter, “This is not your vocation.” This brought Karl to realize his call to religious life. For Fr. Stub, Karl’s spiritual director, it was natural to direct Karl to enter the Barnabites. In June, 1868, Karl left Oslo to enter the Barnabite novitiate in Aubigny, France.
The novitiate was not without difficulties. Trained as a painter and a hunter, Karl encountered great difficulties with his studies and with the sedentary life. In spite of this, Fr. Piantoni wrote, “Schilling is a very saintly novice and will certainly become a priest,” which he did on December 18, 1875. His desire was to go back to Norway to join Fr. Stub in his mission, but for the next four years nothing happened. Then the law of March 29, 1880, expelled all religious orders and congregations from France. Fr. Schilling and a novice from Tyrol ended up in Turin, and then he was assigned as vice-master in the novitiate in Monza. Fr. Schilling was described as a “ . . . model in all that he does, in his love for Our Lord, his childlike devotion to the Mother of God, his trust in the Saints, his tenderness to souls – both the living and the dead. He is a very saintly priest. He never tires; he is modest and humble; his obedience is most edifying.”
In 1887 Fr. Schilling was transferred to the novitiate in Mouscron, Belgium. The Norwegian Father who spoke very poor French found his confessional crowded from early morning with people who wished his advice and help. Innumerable penitents had witnessed that when Le bon père spoke about our Savior, it was impossible to remain cold and indifferent because every word he said showed such a marvelous love of God and tenderness towards all humanity. Fr. Schilling was made confessor of several convents, a couple of hospitals, and boarding schools. Many of the priests from the town and neighborhood also wished to confess to him. He was known among the people as the “holy man of Mouscron” and “the tall saint.”
He began to age very quickly now. The life in Belgium, the mortifications which he practiced, and his work which increased from day to day weakened his power of resistance. Any free time which he was able to snatch was spent in the choir. He not only prayed there, but he also studied and wrote letters. He used to say that everything was done better in front of the Tabernacle.
During the summer of 1906, it became clear that Fr. Schilling’s end was not far off. One day, coming out of his confessional, he collapsed and had to be helped to his bed. He took his illness as a gift from God. Now he could have the time to prepare himself for his Lord and Master who would soon call him to himself. He lived to celebrate Christmas, but during the afternoon of January 3, 1907, he blessed the young seminarians telling them, “You must become saints, great saints.” He was then anointed. Later in the evening, holding the rosary and kissing the crucifix he said, “My Jesus, make me love Thee more and more.” Those were the last words he spoke before dying in the Lord.
[Sigrid undset (1882-1949) is one of the greatest Scandinavian writers of the modern time. In 1928 she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Preface p. 4)]
FATHER ERMENEGILDO PINI
Fr. Corticelli was born in Piacenza (Italy) in 1690. He attended the Jesuit schools in Bologna and in Rome. Back home hestudied philosophy and law graduating in utroque at the age of 23. When he was 28 he obtained a teaching position in Padua, but instead of going into teaching he asked to be admitted into our Congregation. After some more studies in philosophy in Rome, he was assigned to St. Paul’s community in Bologna and to the Penitentiary, where he would stay till his death.
In 1745, to teach his students how to write and speak properly, he published “Rules and observations on the Tuscan language.” Benedict XIV commented: “We have received the little box with three samples of your publication on the Italian language. We thank you and, having examined it, we see that for sure it will be of help not only to the seminarians but to all those who have to speak and write in Italian and who unfortunately speak and write without proper grammar. We have always known you as a person of merit, hard work, and ability. Pray to God for us, and we impart you the Apostolic Blessing.” The book saw many publications through two centuries.
In 1747 he became a member of the “Academy della Crusca.” Besides his many publications about the Tuscan language, he wrote also two booklets on theology for his students at the diocesan seminary in Bologna.
Twice he was elected Provincial Superior, and also Visitor. He died in Bologna on January 5, 1758. Fr. Premoli , Superior General, had Fr. Michelangelo Griffini to write his biography in Latin, which is kept in our archives.
Author of the Menologio
The Menologio was Fr. Levati’s idea, and he was the one to bring it to completion.
Born in Monza on January 35, 1858, he enrolled in St. Mary’s of the Angels school, and in 1875 to San Francesco in Lodi. After his graduation, back to Monza with his mother, he got involved with the Barnabite Carrobiolo “oratorio.” On March 19, 1879 he entered the novitiate. He went to St. Barnabas for theology and was ordained a priest on March 9, 1883 in Lodi.
His first assignment was in St. Barnabas to preach and to hear confessions for men. In 1890 he was transferred to Lodi to work in our church of San Francesco, and as spiritual director of the boarding school, while teaching theology to our seminarians. In 1892 he also became the chancellor of the community, librarian and catechist for the Brothers and lay people.
From 1892 to 1897, while in St. Barnabas, he started to show his interest in historical research of our Congregation beginning with the Provincial archives. In 1897 he was transferred to Cremona, then to Lodi, and in 1905 to St. Alexander in Milan, but only for a short time. At the death of his mother he was assigned to St. Bartholomew in Genoa, where he would stay for thirty years until his death.
He dedicated himself to the apostolate in the church, as well as the different tasks of the community life. For many years he spent his free time studying and doing research. He published a history of the Dogi of Genoa and a volume on “Barnabite bishops born or stationed in Liguria” and other many works. But the publication he had dreamed about from his very early priesthood was the Barnabite Menologio to which he dedicated himself wholeheartedly in his last years. Toward the end he almost lost the use of his legs and of his eyes, but never missed the morning Mass or daily community life events. He died in his sleep the morning of January 5, 1936.
FATHER DIONISIO DA SESTO
One of the Founder’s first companions
“My beloved Dionisio da Sesto” is how Fr. da Sesto was addressed by the Holy Founder in his letters. This is how his death was announced: “Today, January 6, 1546, Dionosio da Sesto has passed from this life to the next at the age of 40. He had been sent by obedience to govern those souls who in Venice happened to be enrolled under the banner of Paul the Apostle. Because of his purity and faith he deserved to have the Blessed Virgin, to whom he was very devout, present at his passing.” His body was taken from Venice to Milan to be buried in the church of St. Paul of the Angelics.
Dionisio had received the Barnabite habit on Christmas Eve of 1534 from St. Anthony M. Zaccaria, and he had celebrated his first Mass on the day of the conversion of St. Paul (January 25) “in the sacred and virgin choir of St. Paul the Converted.”
In 1543 the administrators of Sts. John and Paul hospital in Venice, had asked for some Religious to be the directors. Father Dionisio was selected to lead the group with Father Marta and some Angelics. Fr. Spinola wrote: “As he arrived, Fr. Dionigi, full of charity and fervor, was welcomed as a messenger from heaven, and was installed as the director of the famous hospital. In a short time, under his leadership, charity toward the poor sick was thriving again. Mostly it was the frequent care of their spiritual needs, which caused them to try to outdo each other in carrying out their duties with great amazement and satisfaction for all the people in Venice.”
The good example given by Fr. da Sesto attracted to our Congregation many of those nobles, who, despising riches and splendor, embraced the humble religious state. But only five were selected according to the wishes of the Venerable Morigia, because a large number would have awaken suspicion in the Republic of Venice, already so jealous. The selected were: the brothers Soriani, Bartholomew and Paul, respectively doctors at Law and in medicine; Angel Michieli, doctor at Law; Joseph Contarini, nephew of Cardinal Gasparre Contarini; and John Malipiero, rich in intelligence and wisdom. The last three were from families which had given Dogi to the Republic.
How high was the esteem for Fr. da Sesto is shown in these words by Fr. Spinola: “As he arrived in Venice he right away instituted two congregations, one for men and one for women. Senators and other Magistrates were gathering together with great fervor. This prompted the Bishop of Belluno, a Venetian noble, and Francis Pisoni, also a Venetian noble, Bishop of Padua, to ask the same for their dioceses. Even the citizens of Brescia went seven times to Milan to ask for him, so that, for the good of that city, a similar mission could be carried out; and, finally they were appeased in their request. Fr. Dionisio remained in Venice up to his death..., and all cried for the loss of such a lovable Father.”
His sister was the Angelic Battista da Sesto, first Prioress of St. Paul. Although we have only few memories of Fr. da Sesto, we have a pretty clear idea of his memorable piety, showing why the Lord selected him to be one of the first companions of the Holy Founder in the task of reforming the people of God.
Philip was born in Besozzo, at the outskirts of Milan, from the noble family of Marcantonio Besozzi and Countess Daverio, in 1677.
Having left everything, he joined the Barnabites to become a Brother. For most of his life he will be stationed in St. Alexander’s in charge of the infirmary, helping in the library, and visiting the sick together with Fr. Curato. Brother Besozzi had a deep devotion for the Holy Eucharist and quite often during the day he was seen in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Fr. Branda wrote: “I deem him to be worthy of great remembrance since, born of noble parents, and related to people in high places... he lived a life of total submission, extremely happy with the state he had chosen in our Order.”
He was so loved by his confreres that when he got very sick, they would compete in trying to assist him. He died peacefully at the age of 76 on January 6, 1753.
We have very scarce information about Brother Innocent Cermenati, but he was, if not the first professed Brother, for sure the first Brother to receive the habit of the Congregation.
He had the privilege to know and to be guided by the Holy Founder. It is reported that one day Brother Innocent went to confession to St. Anthony Mary and, with great surprise, the Holy Founder, at the end of the confession, reminded him of a sin he was hiding. In holy amazement Bro. Innocent revealed the incident to Fr. Soresina, giving him the permission to publicize it.
Fr. Chiesa wrote: “The Founder used to consider as a great defect to introduce in the Community a conversation about mundane things and gossips. These conversations were meant to be about spiritual things for spiritual profit. One day the Founder gave the elbow to Bro. Innocent who, just back from outside, had reported a certain story of secular tone...” This anecdote reveals the holiness of the Founder, but also the humility of the Brother who, in front of the whole Community, accepted the mortification.
Bro. Innocent had deep love for the Congregation, and he suffered a lot during the persecution by the Inquisition, but he remained faithful to his religious family. It was because of this love that the Fathers decided to give him the privilege to wear the habit, which had been introduced but not for the Brothers. So he was the first Brother to wear the habit, the same as the Fathers (as established in the Chapter of 1544), but shorter, just below the knee.
The Acts of the Community read: “On December 7, 1554, Innocent Cermenati, from Milan, already advanced in age, was accepted in the house, received our habit as a Brother and his name was confirmed.”
After one year of probation he was allowed to profess the solemn vows as we read: “On December 25, 1556, during the Solemn Christmas Vigil, he professed according to the form of our Congregation, in the hands of the Reverend John Peter Besozzo, Superior of our house of Sts. Paul and Barnabas.”
He died eight years later on January 7, 1564.
Bro. Jerome Vaiano deserves the title as “Servant of God.” He spent his life at the service of God practicing the virtues of religious life in an outstanding manner.
Fr. Cernuschi in the Acts of St. Barnabas wrote: “On January 7, 1615, Jerome Vaiano, from Milan, a Brother in the Congregation, left this life at the age of 85, of which 62 were as a religious. He was considered such a saint that everyone was scrambling to get something from his belongings as a relic, even to the point of cutting his hair and beard. He was such a virtuous man that he not only gave a unique example of religious discipline, but in the last few years he seemed to have reached a perfect union with God, because after giving those few hours of sleep absolutely needed by his body, he would spent the rest of his time absorbed in the divine, but without neglecting, as much as his strength allowed, to perform the chores required by his status in the community, so that he was never idle. His patience was outstanding. Great was his charity toward the sick. He added to these virtues an admirable humility and total reliance on God’s grace and mercy. These and other virtues have made him memorable, while alive, among our confreres and among the laity. Therefore, after his death, some people took him as their intercessor in front of Our Lord for their sicknesses, and they obtained the desired graces, as it results from the information taken from Fr. Anthony Reina, Superior of St. Barnabas, and kept in the archives of that house.”
We should add St. Charles’ testimony. He used to go often to St. Barnabas to spend time in spiritual conversation with those religious. He showed special attention for Bro. Jerome enjoying his humility, simplicity and piety. He entrusted himself to his prayers saying to the Fathers, “You have a saint in the house”
Fr. Cernuschi continues in his report: “There is a tradition about Bro. Jerome passed on by the older members of the house, that in his old age he had become blind but he had the privilege to see the Blessed Mother, who blessed him. One of the old fellows... had a painting depicting this vision, which now hangs on top of the door of the same house.”
His relics were lost during the 1810 Napoleonic suppression.
Fr. Joseph Graniello was a truly pious man and a great scholar. He was born on February 4, 1834, in Naples. While hewas attending our “Caravaggio” school in Naples he decided to enter our Congregation. He went to Resina for the novitiate, and in 1851 the Fathers sent him to Macerata for philosophy, and two years later to Rome for theology. He received the permission to participate in public disputes as a testimony to his scholarship in theology. He was ordained a priest on June 6, 1857. His first assignment was as professor of theology in St. Charles ai Catinari in Rome. He was captivated by the study of Sacred Scripture. Rome remained his home, except for a year in Naples at the Bianchi teaching history while recuperating after an illness.
When the Vatican entrusted to our Congregation the continuation of the “tables of Ecclesiastical History” by Fr. Mozzoni, Fr. Graniello covered the period from the VIII to the XIII century, while Fr. Bilio took care of the rest.
He illustrated other points of ecclesiastical history like “Baptism by immersion and by infusion,” shown in an altar-front in St. Ambrose in Milan, and “The diplomatic Pontifical Seals.” He also wrote a book on “The Temporal Power of the Popes,” which was not published. Instead he published two booklets on marriage: “Introduction to the theological fragments of Gerdil regarding Marriage,” and ‘The doctrine of Melchior Cane on the elevation of Christian marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament.”
In 1867 Pius IX elected him consultor of the Congregation of the Sacred Indulgences and Relics, and in 1870 a member of the Congregation of the Index and of the Council. He was already a member of the Holy Office and in 1873 he became a consultor of the Inquisition. His alacrity in the development and study of the most prevalent problems was marvelous: he was gifted with an acute mind and patience, both so necessary for a hard working researcher and investigator.
All this did not diminish his love for regular observance and priestly virtues. His scientific occupations were directed toward the honor of God, while his studies were used to serve his neighbor and the Church.
His lungs were so weak that he was not able to preach, but he was always ready for the confessional, even if immersed in his studies. Of no less edification was his involvement with the sick and the dying. For this reason someone said that he was working in vision of the next life only, but Divine Providence had prepared uncommon honors for this life too. In 1879 he was consultor of the Congregation of Extraordinary Affairs, and Pius IX publicly praised his gifted mind and profound doctrine, especially in Canon law, giving already a clue about the future cardinalate. At the end of 1871 the Pope elected him Secretary of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. On March 29,1892, he was consecrated Bishop of Caesarea in Buto. On June 12, 1893 he was made a Cardinal with the title of Sts. Quirinus and Julitta.
His physical constitution, already in poor condition, seemed to regain new strength because of less rigorous activities demanded by his position. But, unfortunately, on January 5, 1896, he suffered a very serious visceral congestion which led to his death on the afternoon of January 8.
Among his virtues we should remember his tender affection toward religious poverty, manifested especially during the cardinalate. He continued to live according to religious simplicity as much as his dignity allowed. Worthy of mention are his modesty and profound humility. He was a great scholar in many disciplines but he never expressed his opinion about others. What makes his memory very dear to every Barnabite is his love for the Congregation. To her he left an imperishable monument, the cult to our Holy Founder. His most valuable works are unknown to the public because of professional confidentiality.
John Baptist was born from the noble family De-Capitani Vimercati of Milan. When 15 he asked our Congregation for admission. On November 30, 1634, he professed the vows taking the name Benedict. The new religious, against the fears of some confreres because of his weak constitution, served the Congregation with great dynamism until the age of 87.
Fr. Vimercati became Superior in Novara, Spoleto, St. Barnabas, St. Alexander, etc. Often he was entrusted with the visitation of many houses. In 1679, while Superior in St. Barnabas, he obtained an official canonical recognition, for the benefit of the public, of many relics of St. Charles, St. Francis de Sales, and others, which were kept in the archives.
From 1680 to 1683, Fr. Vimercati was Provincial Superior of Lombardy. Among the problems he had to face, one stands out. In 1681 the Spaniard John Caramuel was Bishop of Vigevano. He was a very violent and hardheaded character, and an advocate of doctrines which were condemned by the Church. This brought him to an head-on collision with our Fathers. Father Cuchino wrote a satirical libel which became public not only in Vigevano but also in Milan. The Bishop demanded his immediate expulsion together with the Superior. Father Provincial took his time to study the situation. The Bishop wanted immediate action so he took upon himself to depose the Superior and to substitute him with Fr. Cuneo, who was old and sick, ordering the Fathers to accept him as Superior under penalty of excommunication, and forced on them a “regular” (as he called it) visitation by one of his Canons. Finally, he wrote to the Father Provincial forbidding him to visit the house in Vigevano. Fr. Vimercati did an investigation and informed Father General, asking for directives.
Meantime the news had already reached Father Maderna through distorted channels, so he wrote a very strong letter reprimanding Fr. Vimercati. He did not loose his calm, but together with Fr. Visconti, Fr. Monzoni, and Fr. Morino travelled to Vigevano.“Having reached Vigevano at 2:00 a.m., and having called a meeting of the whole community in Fr. Cuneo’s room, who was in bed, the document nominating Fr. Monti as Superior was read. He was recognized as Superior by all. Having dismissed all the others, I stayed with Fr. Cuneo together with Fr. Visconti and my secretary. I ordered him to give me the document given him by Bishop Caramuel. He gave it to me and we properly registered it and then I questioned him juridically if he was accepting the decision. He said yes. After that I allowed him to go back to bed, thinking to send him to Milan at about 5.00 a.m., together with two of our confreres and a layperson.”
Early in the morning he sent to the Bishop a letter of the Sacred Congregation he had received from Father General. The Bishop promised to send an answer, but as the Fathers were about to leave for Milan, they were surrounded by a crowd of priests and soldiers, and they were thrown into the Bishop’s prison. Because Fr. Visconti was a consultor of the Holy Office in Milan, he was set free, while Father Provincial was kept in jail. The Bishop promised him freedom on condition that Fr. Cuneo would be reinstated as Superior. Fr. Vimercati refused. Finally through the intercession of other Religious, he was set free. Once in Milan Father Provincial wrote a report of the incident for the Governor, the Count of Malagar. The Governor, with the help of his confessor, Fr. Onorio, Provincial Superior of the Carmelite Fathers, wrote down a proposal to close the incident. Fr. General accepted it, but not Innocent XI, who appointed Bishop Bartholomew Monatti as special prosecutor. After an investigation Bishop Monatti published the final degree in favor of the Barnabites bringing to a close the unfortunate incident.
Fr. Vimercati had to witness also the closing of the schools in Vigevano and Casalmaggiore, but shortly after they were reopened. In 1685 he ended his term as Provincial but not to rest. A very painful situation was making life very difficult for the community in St. Alexander in Milan, so he was sent there as Superior. Worthy of the trust given him, he brought peace in the house. Finally in 1689 he was freed from responsibilities and was able to spend the rest of his life caring about his spiritual life
Naples was Fr. Rippa’s birthplace, and the place which benefited most from his apostolate and holiness. Fr. Rippa was an alumni of our Pontecorvo school in Naples, where he had fallen in love with his teachers. Against his parents will he applied for admission to our Congregation and completed the novitiate in Resina. Because of a legislation in vigor in the Kingdom of the “Two Sicilies”, he was not able to profess his vows until he moved out of the Kingdom and went to Rome for theology. There he was also allowed to become a certified teacher of physics and mathematics at the Collegio Romano.
After his ordination in 1855, Fr. Rippa was assigned to Parma as a teacher, but after two years, due his poor health, he was forced to take a prolonged rest. Once well again he used his teaching skills in Teramo, Bologna, and finally Naples at the Bianchi. While teaching he was asked to be Provincial Superior and local Superior in Pontecorvo, and in 1889 Visitor General. The Cardinal of Naples used him as his co-visitor for the diocese and as an examiner for the clergy. In 1896 he was Provincial Superior again.
Fr. Rippa was instrumental for the opening of the minor seminary in Pontecorvo, for the introduction of the Angelic sisters in Arienzo and Naples, and the spread of the devotion to St. Francis Bianchi, whose biography he published in 1892.
Fr. Rippa excelled in his teaching skills not only for his scholarship but especially for his ability to communicate with the pupils, showing at the same time great severity together with compassion and understanding. But the apostolate which made him famous was the confessional in our two churches of Pontecorvo and of St. Mary’s a Caravaggio.
In his last nine years he could hardly walk, but, helped by one of the Confreres, after Mass he would go to the confessional and spend most of the day there. His death came on January 10, 1914, at the age of 82.
Bishop Peruzzini was born in Fossombrone (Italy), in 1710. Since his childhood he had loved the Barnabites. His uncle was Fr.Joachim Peruzzini, Provincial Superior of Romagna. Augusto entered the novitiate in Zagarolo in 1725. He was followed by his younger brother Scipio, who would become Superior General of the Congregation.
Charles Augusto, after the theological studies and ordination in Rome, was assigned, in 1732, to Macerata to teach philosophy. In March 1743 he was elected pastor of St. Charles ai Catinari in Rome, but a year later he was sent to Bologna at the Penitentiary and to teach in the diocesan seminary which had just been entrusted to the Barnabites. Three years later he was elected Assistant General; therefore, he had to move back to Rome.
In 1748 Clement XIV selected Fr. Peruzzini as his confessor and named him examiner of the clergy and, in 1751, examiner of Bishops.
In 1756 the Pope convinced him to be Bishop of Macerata-Tolentino. The episcopal consecration took place on September 27 in St. Charles ai Catinari by Cardinal Guadagni.
Among his many accomplishments we have to mention the building of the Cathedral in Macerata and the rebuilding of the apostolic palace. In 1763 he held a diocesan synod which “was considered among the best of that Province” (Moroni). For the occasion, he asked the help of three Barnabites.
As a way of spreading the Gospel, he opened his residence to men of knowledge: “Bishop Peruzzini, lover of sciences and of people of knowledge, organized many lectures by Fr. Gerdil, then Cardinal, at the time residing in Macerata; Fr. John Baptist Scaramelli, a Jesuit and apostolic preacher; Mario, a poet; Francis, a theologian, all three of the same family; etc.” (Moroni).
Bishop Peruzzini died on January 11, 1777, at the age of 68.
Fr. Azzati was born from a noble family in Lodi. His brother Benigno entered the Barnabites and spent most of his life in France. Peter went to school at the Archimboldi in Milan. When 17 he asked for admission in our Congregation: “Filled with great joy and happiness I have decided (if it is God's will, and yours, my religious fathers) to be part of so many divine goods and joys, of which this most holy and fruitful Congregation has such great abundance, defended and guarded by two most holy apostles, Paul and Barnabas, and by the B. Anthony M. Zaccaria, Founder, B. Alexander Sauli, a most holy man, splendor of the Congregation, and besides by so many other most pious men, who through this Congregation have reached heaven.”
He professed the vows on August 24, 1624. In his will he left a large sum of money for the construction of the church of St. Alexander in Milan. His first assignment was in Rome where he would spend 30 years. A great preacher, he traveled all over the Pontifical State from one pulpit to another until 1650 when he was transferred to St. Alexander. There he continued to draw crowds not only through the pulpit but also through the confessional.
In 1653 he was Superior and Master of novices in Monza. After the pestilence of 1630, the Holy Father had forbidden all the Orders to accept any novice without the explicit permission of the Holy See: “The small number of novices, and, then, the total absence of them during these years, leaving the novitiate like a widower, has not allowed us to enjoy the fruits so abundant at other times” (Fr. Reggiani).
During the first three years Fr. Azzati could accept only four novices, but in 1657 Alexander VII abrogated the law and in the following three years the number jumped to 26 Clerics and 7 Brothers. Among them there was the Venerable Canale. About the relationship of the Master and his novice, Fr. Barelli writes: “Fr. Azzati, a well known man for his goodness of life and deep doctrine, had an intimate knowledge of his (Ven. Canale) outstanding virtues, and would say publicly that he wished to write the life of this great Servant of God, where he could record some most admirable things not found in other stories of many saints canonized by the Church.”
It was during Fr. Azzati’s term as Superior that the miracle of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place in the novitiate chapel: with her look from the painting hanging on top of the main altar, she kept away the troops which, in 1658, were plundering the city of Monza.
During this time his charity showed no limits as he did not hesitate to open the novitiate as a refuge and temporary hospital for the local people.
After 9 years, in 1662, Fr. Azzati was assigned to St. Barnabas as Master of Clerics and director of the Congregation of the Presentation. But shortly after, he got very sick and died on January 13, 1663 at the age of 57. His virtues were so outstanding “that when he died he left great pain and emptiness in all.”
John Daniel Stub, son of Gerard, was born in Bergen, Norway, on June 17, 1814. After his conversion to the Catholic Church, he asked to be admitted to our Congregation. He made his novitiate in St. Bartholomew in Genoa, and professed his vows on January 30, 1834. He then studied theology at St. Charles in Rome.
His first assignment was to teach grammar in the Santa Lucia public school in Bologna. He did so well that he was promoted to teach Humanities. The hopes of the Superiors were not frustrated because Fr. Stub achieved the reputation of an excellent teacher and perfect educator.
In September of 1838 Fr. Stub went back to Genoa to preach and remained there until 1840 when he was sent to teach philosophy at the royal college in Moncalieri and for three years he was also the Rector. In 1847 he went as Superior to St. Martin in Asti, as well as teacher of mathematics to our seminarians. In 1850 the General Chapter elected him pastor of St. Christopher’s in Vercelli and Superior of that community. In 1853 he was transferred to St. Dalmazzo in Turin as rector and Provincial Consultor. During these years he dedicated himself to preaching, giving retreats and Lenten sermons. In April of 1856 he was elected Superior Provincial of Piedmont-Liguria, which included the French houses.
In June 1858 he went to his native land for a visit but most of all as a mission. In 1859 the General Chapter named him Visitor and Rector in Gien, but shortly after he resigned, and went back to Genoa to exercise his priestly duties and to publish some of his works:“The priest and the bed of the dying,” “Readings for edification,” “Meditations for clergy,” “Farewell to Protestantism.”
In May of 1864, having finished to preach the Marian month, he went to Sweden and Norway to work in the Mission which had just been accepted by the Congregation.
In October he was named Apostolic Vicar and pastor in Christiania (Oslo today), which had been totally entrusted to the Barnabites. In 1865 he was in Italy and he also preached the Marian month in St. Charles ai Catinari, in Rome. In August he was back in the Mission until 1869, when the Congregation had to give up the Mission. Fr. Stub obtained the permission to stay on as a simple missionary, and he was assigned to Bergen.
France and Italy saw him many times on fund raising expeditions for the building of the church of St. Paul in Bergen, started in 1865 and completed in 1876. He built also a rectory for the Fathers hoping the Mission would be taken again by the Barnabites, but the Chapter of 1880 declined the offer. Fr. Stub continued his ministry with the same zeal until his death. He always remained in close contact with the Congregation, faithful to his vows. In January of 1892 he caught the flu which degenerated into pneumonia. After receiving the Eucharist he died on January 13, 1892.
It is the glory and pride of Fr. Stub to have given to the Congregation the Venerable Father Charles Schilling, a Norwegian painter converted to Catholicism, who became a member of our Congregation.
He was born in the village of Cavallara (Mantova) on January 10,1902, from a modest farming family. The father was a fiery socialist, not too much interested in religion but deeply honest and who respected the opinion of others. The mother was profoundly religious and inculcated strong Christian feelings in her children.
The young Serafino attended only grade school, and, because he was not too healthy and so unable to work the fields, he was sent to Cremona to work as a clerk in a stationary shop. He was so dedicated and trustworthy that the owner decided to make him his partner in the business. But the young man, as Fr. Malazzani will testify, replied: “I love more to become a religious than to advance in the world.” He had joined the Third Order of St. Francis. One of the Capuchin Friars gave him the life of St. Louis to read; this was the beginning of his vocation. Since the Capuchin Friars’ church was too far, he started to attend the Barnabite Oratorio and the church of St. Luke, where he completed his studies in private up to high school. There he would see the Barnabite seminarians, and pretty soon he asked to be one of them. His parents were not too happy with the decision: he was the oldest of six brothers, and with a very bright and promising career in front of him. Serafino had to wait until 1919 to get their permission to enter the Sacred Heart Barnabite seminary in Cremona.
He received the Barnabite habit on November 11, 1919, and on July 22, 1920 he entered the novitiate in Monza, professing the first vows on November 1, 1923. He was supposed to go to Lodi to pursue his studies, but his poor health forced him to go to Milan to be admitted to the “Fatebenefratelli” hospital (Brothers of St. John), where he would stay until his death, on January 13, 1924, victim of tuberculosis. Just before his death he was allowed to make his solemn profession.
The church of St. Luke in Cremona, the witness of the beginning and maturation of his vocation, has seen also the growth of his reputation as a saint, especially when his body was transferred there from the Milan cemetery (January 31, 1965): a reputation which accompanied him as a lay young men, in his short life as a Barnabite cleric and while in the hospital. The ordinary diocesan process for his beatification was held in Cremona between May 1967 and March 1975; and it was canonically opened at the Sacred Congregation of the Saints in Rome on April 21, 1975, reaching its positive conclusion on January 11, 1994, proclaiming the heroicity of Serafino’s virtues 70 years after his death, and making him an official model for those who prepare themselves for religious life and the priesthood, just as well as for those who are facing our complex world. For these young men the 22 year old Serafino can offer, an example on how to give meaning to one’s life and the many sacrifices inevitably affecting our human condition.
His daily virtues
What is this heroicity if not a living out of Jesus’ commandment: “Love God, and your neighbor as yourself’! In other words, Serafino was faithful to God’s plan for his life. To understand it let us look at what has been said about his virtues by those who testified at the process. These testimonials attest to an experience of life enriched not only by extraordinary happenings, but a “daily” life lived in an extraordinary way.
First of all this “little way” of Serafino Ghidini, is marked by a deep sense of piety, manifested by a peculiar spirit of prayer which characterized his life since childhood in a constant growth up to his death; by his way of participating in the liturgical celebrations centered on the Holy Eucharist as a devout son of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria; by his devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Saints, which always nourished his interior life so that when still a teenager, before starting his daily work in the shop, “he used to go in a corner, take out of his pocket a little rosary, and pray.”
Unique of Serafino is his love for God, engaging him in the effort “to stay always in the presence of God,” and to avoid anything that would displease Him, giving the impression that “God was never abandoning him, because he was never abandoning his God.” And in his love for the neighbors, Serafino was very alert to the needs of others, both spiritual and material, always ready to carry on his tasks, no matter how heavy, and since he was not inclined toward criticism or quarrels, when there was any sign of lack of charity he would recollect himself in prayer, or if needed, he would intervene to put an end to the murmuring.
The virtue of prudence was manifested in his attempt to carry on to the outmost his duties in all circumstances of his life, and called to “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2); for his young age he showed maturity of judgment in the choice of the most suitable means, in giving advice, and even in his suffering at the very end. In other words, he was faithful to the observance of his duties, orderly in his person, and balanced in his words.
As for justice, he was outstanding in “giving to God what belongs to God,” that is, a constant sense of gratitude for the gift of life, for being a Christian, and for his vocation; he treated all without partiality and with justice, avoiding any like or dislike.
Fortitude became for him heroism and, indeed, martyrdom. What one discovers in him is not just a sense of bravery in facing difficulties, but the commitment of Christian strength leading his fighting and strong-willed character to fight and to control himself through the Grace of God.
Similarly his use of temperance too was heroic, that is, his ability for interior mortification and renunciation, and so training in penance: not even the illness would tarnish this exercise, rather, it would increase it.
A lived religious life
Serafino was able to live the demands of evangelical poverty since his childhood due to the poor condition of his family, always satisfied with the little he had; a detachment he would refine once he entered religious life, dressing humbly, and taking good care of the tools of his work. All those who got to know him, attest to his deep sense of chastity, with his reverend and delicate way of talking in a world characterized by vulgarity and a materialistic attitude. His practice of obedience was considered heroic in the readiness to carry out his duties and in accepting their inherent sacrifices “out of love of God,” so that he was perceived by all as a “lived rule.” Also the exercise of the virtue of humility was heroic, so that he reached self-abnegation in the search for God; a virtue which, with charity, constitutes the source of all other virtues, and the summary of spiritual life.
Having said all this, we could get the picture of an eccentric young man too much immerse in the sense of his duties, a cheerless personality shy of company, and one who was isolated as a stranger to reality. It is not so, because his life was also marked by a sense of joviality: an aspect which must be emphasized because it is the sign of the maturity Ghidini reached in his spiritual journey, presenting him as an example for others. So Serafino was able to live the daily reality of his life with a sense of balance, knowing how to mingle with others, loving the life he had received as a gift, not holding it for himself, or hiding it under the carpet. Indeed the young Barnabite cleric was able to correspond to God’s love pledging his life in a fast short race toward holiness; this is why it has been said of him: “we can see him aspiring toward perfection: for sure he had in his heart a great love of God.”
In fact, his short existence did not allow him to do great things, but Serafino knew how to do little things in a most outstanding way treading on the main road of “little things” like other young modern saints like the Carmelite St. Therese of the Child Jesus or the Passionist St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. Therefore, we can stress that the holiness of this young Barnabite is within everybody’s reach, and it can be, especially for the young, a clear and wonderful model of a perfect answer to God’s call in one’s life.
About his seminary life Fr. Francesco Beati wrote: “He is doing really good,” “he has a great spirit of sacrifice and self-abnegation, always ready to help the younger ones in their studies. Calm and serene he would be enraged if somebody would gossip about someone else.” About his novitiate Fr. Charles Castelli wrote: “He revealed himself of such an angelic candor and of an ardor that was not simple enthusiasm, but a disposition which was edifying me. The thought and desired for perfection was his daily theme.” A very nervous character, he made daily efforts to control himself. He was not a genius, but for sure he was rich with pious and practical discernment. He cared for mortification to the point of asking even some tools for penance.
Very devout to the Blessed Mother, he used to say that every feast in her honor was like an oasis in the midst of life’s desert. Burning with love for the Holy Eucharist, he was drawing from Holy Communion the strength to sanctify every action of his day.
The novitiate became a fitting preparation for his death. Someone heard him say: “How beautiful it is to die young!” Fr. Castelli, his spiritual confidant, said: “I would not be surprised if the Lord would call him soon to heaven.”
About his illness and death Fr. Favero wrote: ‘The Rosary on his neck, his prayer books and holy cards on his side. He was not in a hurry to go or to come back: yes, he was praying to get well, but without that apprehension or insistence which means to force God’s will.” “I’m praying to get well, but I’m not worried about death;” and when he realized that his end was at hand: “Father,” he said, “please give me the Last Rites because tonight I will die.” He also professed the Solemn Vows in the hands of Fr. Francesco Beati, and then... waited. He died at the dawn of January 13, 1924.
Let us conclude with Fr. Favero’s words: “We should say that Serafino’s profession, more than a promise of a future life, was the expression of an accomplished life: for him it was not a renunciation of the past, but a reaffirmation; for others the profession is a gift of what they will do and be, for Serafino it was what he was, and God accepted it.”
Prayer for Canonization
Fr. Palma entered the Congregation in 1599, in Rome, and he professed his vows in Monza on April 23, 1600, and studied logic in Milan, theology in Rome and in Sanseverino. He wrote many spiritual books and founded a sodality called “The Humility of St. Charles,” for noble women dedicated to the visitation of the sick in the hospitals, to console and assist them. To support these pious ladies in their charitable work he composed a special book. He was instrumental for the introduction of a catechism program in our parish of St. Charles in Rome.
Because of his great zeal Fr. Palma was often called upon by the Popes Paul IV, Gregory XV, and Urban VIII for various spiritual tasks, and especially for missions like in Gubbio, Ostia, and Albano.
One of Fr. Palma’s great accomplishments was the completion of the construction of the church of St. Charles. Unfortunately there were no more funds available, so he made a pilgrimage on foot to Our Lady of Loreto shrine to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Mother. On his return from the pilgrimage he received a bequest from Cardinal Leni, sufficient to complete the construction. He attributed this to the intervention of Divine Providence through the intercession of Our Lady, as he wrote in the Acts of the community. This eventually, many years later, will give rise to the devotion to Our Lady under the title “Our Lady Mother of Divine Providence.”
Fr. Palma was never a Superior although many times his name came up for Superior General, but he always refused including in 1625 when he was elected Provincial Superior.
He died in Rome in 1635, at the age of 60.
Fr. Cacciari was born in Bologna on July 12,1827. There he kept close contact with the Barnabites, and in 1844 he entered the novitiate in Genoa. He studied in Asti, Turin and Rome, where he was ordained a priest in 1850. His first assignment was as a teacher of Rhetoricin Naples and of Humanities in Livorno. In 1853 Fr. General Albicini selected him as his secretary. While in Rome he directed the restoration of St. Charles from 1858 to 1861. For the occasion he published the booklet, “Memoirs of the church of the Sts. Blaise and Charles.” In May of 1863 he accompanied Father General in the visitation of the Austrian houses.
In 1867 he was entrusted to open a new foundation in Florence. At first he bought a country house in Badia at Ripoli, then an old villa which eventually would become the Alla Querce school, to be inaugurated in 1868. His major concern, together with the academics, was a deep Christian piety among the students.
In 1880, elected Assistant General, Fr. Cacciari was back in Rome at St. Charles. In 1893 we find him in Perugia as Visitor General, in 1886 back in Florence as rector, and in 1890 as Provincial Superior. In September of the same year he was reelected Assistant General. During this period he wrote the rules for the offices of Rector, Vice-rector, Master of piety, Master of studies, and he even compiled our formulary. In 1894 Fr. Cacciari was Postulator General and in 1895 Procurator General.
He was looking forward to the canonization of St. Alexander Sauli when he collapsed on the evening of January 15, 1905.
His many publications attest to his great mind and vast culture. He was a good Barnabite, lover of the mother Congregation. A man of prayer, Leo XIII called him his special friend.
Fr. Felix Niclauz was instrumental in the organization of a defense plan which saved the city of Mistelbach, Austria, from the invading troops of Kara Mustafà. In 1683 Kara proclaimed himself protector of the Hungarian rebels, broke the Temesvar truce and put Vienna unto siege. The whole country was in agony under the fear of the destructive power of the invading Tartars and Turks. The city of Mistelback was on their route. All the Barnabites ran away from the monastery of St. Martin, except for Fr. Niclauz and a younger confrere. Trusting in the power of God, Fr. Felix approached the leaders of the city and encouraged them to resist the best as they could, barricading themselves into the castle. All the surrounding cities and villages were completely destroyed and the people had been put to death. When the invading army reached the castle of Mistelbach and founded it barricaded, they preferred to leave it alone and went on. Fr. Niclauz was instrumental in protecting the people not only from the invading army, but also from exploiters on the inside, like General Caprara who, under the pretext of defense and protection, was ready to take advantage of people and their property.
Once back in the monastery, the Superior, Fr. Fester, wrote to the Provincial Superior of Lombardy and Germany, Fr. Victor Visconti: “As soon as I heard about the glorious liberation I came right away to Mistelbach. At the Archbishop’s residence in Prague I had heard that the city of Mistelbach for sure had been destroyed by the rebels, therefore, I went right away to take care of our things and to see how Fr. Felix Niclauz was doing. With God’s grace I have found everything in good condition. Fr. Niclauz is safe and sound. Thanks to the risk taken by Fr. Felix and thanks to the grace of God, although surrounded by the rebels, Tartar and Turk, and although the land had been ransacked and burned by ours and by the Poles, Mistelbach with its surroundings is safe.”
Fr. Niclauz had joined the Barnabites while attending Law school. He started his novitiate in St. Michael’s in Vienna, but finished it in Monza so that he could have a better feeling of the Barnabite Order and spirit. At the beginning he had a little trouble due to the food, but soon he adapted himself. He professed on October 5, 1659. He finished his studies in Montù and in St. Barnabas, and then he went back to Vienna.
Very open, loyal, and expert in administration, he was often Superior and Procurator. His confessional, just as his cell, was always busy with visitors from all walks of life. We do not know for what reason but the Archbishop of Vienna was not too keen toward the Barnabites. It was through the influence and work of Fr. Felix that he became their friend. Father even obtained from him the Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians in Vienna, with the necessary land to build a house, and he became its first Superior.
We should mention that during the pestilence Fr. Niclauz displayed his charity with heroic assistance to the victims. In the Acts of the house we read: “All those who came to know him praise his piety, laboriousness and his many virtues. He crowned his holy life with death on January 18, 1693.”
Fr. Clerici was born in Lainate (Milan) on May 28,1883 from Angelo and Maria Romano. In 1896, he entered the Barnabite seminary in Perugia and was accepted as a cleric on June 23, 1901. On October 12, 1901 he entered the novitiate in Monza and professed the simple vows on October 7, 1902. Ildefonso completed his Liceum in Lodi and theology at first in St. Barnabas, then in Voghera to be finished, because of his health, in Genoa, at the diocesan seminary. Meantime he professed the solemn vows on November 9, 1905.
Back in good health, in 1908 he left St. Bartholomew of the Armenians (Genoa) for a first apostolic experience to teach geography and as spiritual director of the Vittorino da Feltre school. At the same time he finished his philosophical and theological studies, so he received the Minor Orders and on September 18, 1909 he was ordained a priest. He completed also his University studies with a Master in philosophy.
In 1910 Fr. Clerici was back at St. Bartholomew as vice-rector until 1905, when he was drafted by the army, ready to serve in the World War I. At first he was exempted because of his health, but in 1916 he was drafted again and assigned to the medical unit in Turin.
In 1920 Father was back in Genoa as preacher, religion teacher and spiritual director at the St. Alexander Sauli superior school of religion instituted by Fr. Semeria. In 1922 he was elected Rector of the Vittorino and superior of St. Bartholomew, and in 1924 he became also the director of the St. Alexander Sauli Club. These assignments were confirmed in 1925. In 1927 Father was elected superior Provincial of the Liguria-Piedmnot Province, to be confirmed in 1934.
On August 11, 1937 the General Chapter elected Fr. Clerici as Superior General, to be confirmed in 1940 and 1946. In 1952, at the end of his term Father returned to Genoa as Provincial Superior and local superior of the seminary. He died there on January 18, 1970.
Fr. Charles Vercellone was born on January 10, 1814, in Sordevolo (Biella). He entered the novitiate in Genoa and professed his vows on March 4, 1830. He studied philosophy in Turin and theology in Rome. Once ordained a priest he taught theology in Turin, Alexandria, and Perugia. In 1839 he went to Parma as spiritual director, and four years later to St Charles in Rome. He would be in Rome until his death, busy teaching theology while holding many offices like Superior, Procurator, Assistant, and Vicar general.
Fr. Vercellone was a theologian, a paleontologist, and expert in ancient languages, and a clear and precise writer. Many are his publications, especially regarding texts and codices of Sacred Scripture. His work, “The philosophical culture of the ancient Hebrews,” “The Philosophical doctrines of St. Augustine,” “The modern philosophical Institutions,” prove how versatile the man was in philosophy. He even enjoyed to explore philology and ancient history. But the publication which made his name famous was “Variae Lectiones Vulgatae Latinae Bibliorum Enruditionis,” published in Rome in 1860 and 1864. Pius IX liked it so much that he wanted to make Fr. Vercellone a cardinal immediately.
He was honorary teacher at the University of Vienna and a member of national and international Academies. By royal degree he had the chair of Sacred Scripture and Hebrew philology at the Royal University in Genoa. He was deeply involved in the preparation for the Vatican Council I. He spent also a lot of time to collect and publish in 50 volumes all the works of Cardinal Gerdil.
Fr. Sergio wrote: “Fr. Vercellone was an example to the religious for regular observance; to the scholars for his profound and solid knowledge; to all a model of a person aiming toward heaven. He was zealous for the salvation of souls, and diligent in the apostolate. He was very dear to Pius IX. He was a good friend of scholars and he was courteous even toward the Protestants as Christian charity demands... He was a great asset to the Congregation”
His death came too premature on January 19, 1869 at the age of 55: “This loss will be of great sorrow in the world of culture, and far beyond the boundaries of Italy. Fr. Vercellone was one of the most illustrious Italian theologians of the present time, the most outstanding not mistakenly, among few, who in Italy dedicated themselves to Biblical studies. His writings are well appreciated by all experts (Catholic and Protestant) in Germany. His collection of “The Variants of the Vulgate,’ which unfortunately he could not finish, assures him forever a most honorable place in the history of Biblical science.”
We conclude with Fr. Vercellone’s own words at the conclusion of one of his works: “Let us strive to be immune from any worries and as we cultivate science only for love of truth, we will reach our aim, and at the end we will rejoice knowing that the true conclusions of science are never repugnant to the ones of faith, and often they are very useful to illustrate them and to validate them with a proof, which for us is never necessary.”
Fr. Donati and Fr. Gallizia must be commemorated together as heroes of the faith in Burma. They shared hardships, dangers, and death for the same cause.
In 1756 the mission entrusted to the Barnabites was experiencing difficulties because of the many losses of personnel: four religious had died in a shipwreck on their way to the mission, and the Apostolic Vicar, Fr. Nerini, had been killed in an uprising. The Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith enticed our Superiors to send more men. Of the many who answered Fr. General’s appeal, four were selected: Benigno Arenati, Gherardo Cortenovis, Sebastian Donati, and Pius Alexander Gallizia. The first two boarded the ship Le Due de Parme, and the last two boarded Le Conte d’Argenson. Because of the war going on between France and England, as a necessary precaution, the two ships were escorted by seven warships. Their trip started on January 19, 1758, and took two and a half years in the midst of many dangers. After avoiding a shipwreck on the coast of Martaban where two other missionaries had lost their lives a few years before, they finally reached Rangoon, Burma, on June 8, 1760. Fr. Gallizia stayed in Rangoon while Fr. Donati went to Ava.
Because of tremendous difficulties and an epidemic of dropsy, the young and zealous missionary, Fr. Donati, unfortunately died at the very beginning of his apostolate. Fr. Gallizia wrote, “Because of the difficulties encountered during the trip of a month and a half and because of the different climate and the bad weather (it rained continuously for six months) or for other reasons unknown to me, as soon as Fr. Donati arrived in Ava he developed a high fever, his legs swelled, and he got progressively worse. After five months of sufferings, he had to bow to the illness since the Almighty wanted to take him away from this miserable mortal life to lead him to the blessed and immortal life. Fr. Donati died on January 20, 1761, on the feast day of the martyr Saint Sebastian, whose name he carried.
FATHER PAUL JOSEPH SCATI (1714-1789)
45th Superior General
Fr. Scati, from Acqui, taught philosophy in Udine, and theology in Bologna. He was head of the Penitentiary and Provincial Superior in Etruria (1764-65), Assistant and Procurator General, and finally Superior General (1785-89). He was also examiner of Bishops and of the clergy in Rome, very dear and respected by Cardinals, Princes and Prelates.
He was a shining example of regular observance, very meek and humble of character. He wrote a circular letter for the Congregation, and published the decision of cases of conscience for the diocese of Bologna
He died in Rome at St. Charles on January 20, 1789, at the age of 75.
Fr. Pallamolla’s vocation was very much opposed by his father, the Baron of Torraca and ruler of the sea-port of Sapri in Calabria. As soon as he realized that his son Lucio, the pupil of his eyes, wanted to become a religious, he tried everything to change his mind. One day he burst into his room and threw on the table a purse with 20,000 golden scudi and the hand of a most beautiful woman: “Both are yours, and if you do not give up, watch out for my wrath!” “Father,” Lucio answered, “I cannot run back on my oath to God; I cannot accept anything of what you offer me.” Saying so Lucio left the room. Form that moment his father’s love was changed into hate, but still to no avail. Finally he addressed directly Prelates and Religious to change his son’s mind, or at least not to become a Barnabite, a new and poor Congregation, unsure of the future. To resolve the situation the Bishop of Cassano suggested to Lucio to run away to Milan with a dear friend called Boccalupi.
There, he knocked at the door of St. Barnabas and was accepted on May 22, 1592. Because of the many sufferings he had endured at home and the long trip, he got very sick; therefore, he had to wait few months before he could enter the novitiate in Monza. He received the habit on the vigil of the Assumption, and a year later Constantine (his religious name now) professed the vows. He went to Pavia for theology and in 1597 he was ordained a priest. Although very young, because of his wisdom and his virtues he was assigned with Fr. Carli to open a new house in Naples.
When the school of philosophy and theology was opened in St. Blaise in Rome, he was called there to teach. His scholarship and skill were very much appreciated by Cardinals who informed Pope Clement VIII. As a consequence many delicate tasks were entrusted to his care. Paul V trusted him so much that he named him examiner of his vicariate, one of the most difficult tasks at that time and which had never been given to a Religious. He would hold that post for 42 years. It was through his efforts that St. Charles’ church was opened. Many times the Popes offered him one of the dioceses in Calabria, but he humbly refused. In 1620 the Cardinal Vicar chose him as co-visitor of all the convents in the diocese of Rome. In 1624 Urban VIII named him Apostolic Visitor of the diocese.
The Lord entrusted to his spiritual direction St. Joseph Calasantius, founder of the Scolopi Congregation. Fr. Toretti in the biography of his founder wrote: “When Fr. Constantine Pallamolla, a famous Barnabite and a good servant of God, his old confidant, went to visit him he shared with him, and only with him, the vision he had experienced, which assured him of the salvation of his (deceased) Religious, and of the various positions of other Religious. Fr. Pallamolla asked him if the venerable Glicerio Landriani was sitting or standing, and since he had heard that he was sitting he judged that those in the first group were in the blessed rest of heaven, the others in Purgatory, on their way to glory, just as Calasantius had thought.” Another of his spiritual children was the Venerable Ma. Vittoria Angelini.
He died at age of 80 in 1651, on the feast of St. Agnes: “The night following his death Fr. Constantine appeared in glory together with St. Agnes and the servant of God Angelini, who in a loud voice heard by those in the next room, said: ‘this glory, Father, is well deserved.’ These words show the loving ingenuity of the venerable religious and the place in the sacred beatitude the Lord had raised his servant to.” (Fr. Barelli).
Louis Aguilar was born in Naples on April 7, 1814. He entered our novitiate of St. Joseph at Pontecorvo on November 23, 1823. Because of a rule in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, he was forced to go to Rome to be able to profess the vows on December 29, 1833, having obtained a dispensation.
During the third year of theology he was sent to Finalmarina to teach, but for not too long because of his health. After his ordination he was assigned to Santa Maria a Caravaggio in Naples to teach in the public schools and as a preacher. His following assignments were in Finalmarina, Bologna, Rome, and again Naples in 1848 as Superior of Caravaggio. In 1852 he was transferred to Macerata as Superior. He stayed there for only one year because he was needed at St. Matthew’s in Teramo to teach Rhetoric, Philosophy, and then as Rector. In 1861 at the creation of the Kingdom of Italy, the new government took over our school. Fr. Aguilar went to Naples as novice master and as teacher of our seminarians.
In 1862 he was elected Superior Provincial for three consecutive terms. In 1867 he was also Rector of the Bianchi school. During these years he was an examiner at the University of Naples.
On October 27, 1871, Pius IX made him Bishop of Ariano, and four years later Archbishop of Brindisi. He worked tirelessly to spread the Good News in his dioceses, caring for ecclesiastical discipline, promoting solid philosophical and theological studies. He was quite a sick man, and he had to spend the last month of his life in his room until death came on January 21, 1872.
Many were his publications both in profane and sacred sciences. He always cherished the mother Congregation and kept correspondence with Father General. When he could, he gladly stopped in our houses.
When Fr Pica was entrusted with the reestablishment of the Congregation in France, Fr. Caccia said: “Strict observance of the Rules, without exception, humble obedience especially in the sacred ministry, common life to perfection even to the smallest details, mental prayer with the prohibition to omit it or to shorten it for whatever reason, love for silence, to be kept constantly during meals; finally humility and fraternal charity” Fr. Pica will keep faith to these words as a guide for rest of his life.
He was born in Aquila, but when he was still a child his family moved to Naples. There he went to our Caravaggio school and then to the University of Naples to study Law and theology for two years. In 1854 he became a religious. After his novitiate in San Felice a Cancello he went to Rome for theology. After the solemn vows he was selected to go to Paris for the reestablishment of the Congregation in France.
In 1861 he past the exam to hear confessions, an apostolate which will characterize his priestly life. Although not a great preacher he was often asked to preach retreats for religious, and to teach catechism. Invited by Abbot Chauchot, he accepted the care of the Italian workers who were very poor and exposed to all kinds of dangers and abuses in a big city like Paris. For twelve years he was their apostle, distinguishing himself especially during the two years when many of them were victims of cholera. In 1870, when Paris was under siege, he did not run away, instead he became the chaplain of the French soldiers. His great dedication was recognized with the bronze medal award.
Meantime Cardinal Guibert approved the Third Order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus attached to our Order. Fr. Pica was nominated its director. All his activities had to come to a sudden end when in 1880 all the foreign religious received the order to leave France in 24 hours. Fr. Pica went to St. Charles in Rome. He became Father General’s secretary, and master of students. In 1886 he was elected Assistant General and Postulator for the causes of the Saints. In his apostolic zeal he found time for activities outside the Congregation, like the direction of the Institute of the Daughters of Divine Providence. In 1889 things in France had quiet down; so, Fr. Pica went back to Paris as Provincial Superior with the task to rebuild the Province. His first postulants went to Mouscron in Belgium.
In 1901 the General Chapter elected him Superior of St. Charles in Rome, so the Lord spared him the personal experience of the collapse of the French Province when, in 1903, the French Republic once again suppressed all Religious Orders. But in 1904 he was once again Provincial Superior of the French-Belgian Province. With joy in 1906 he saw the departure of a group of French Barnabites for Brazil to start a new foundation. He laid the foundation of the Shrine of the Infant Jesus in Brussels and he saw to its completion.
In the General Chapter of 1907 he was elected Superior General against his protests since he was 72 years old. In 1909, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary, Pius X sent him a letter full of praises for his rare piety.
Alter his term he was elected Procurator General and Master of the students again. He had only one ideal, “Total dedication to God and to the salvation of souls..” He died on January 21, 1915.
Eliseo was born in 1568 in Mondrisio, from the Torriani family, which had ruled Milan until they were ousted by the Visconti
family. Of the two brothers, Elia and Michelangelo, Elia entered the novitiate in Monza in 1583, and the following year he professed his solemn vows. He was 19 years old. In 1596 he felt the call to a more austere life and entered the Cistercian Abbey in Pavia.
During his fourteen years as a Barnabite Fr. Elia Torriani influenced his brother Michelangelo toward Religious Life. When 15, Michelangelo was sent by his father to Milan to learn Humanities and how to be a Knight. At that time Father Elia was in St. Barnabas, allowing the two brothers to meet often. Michelangelo eventually fell in love with Religious Life and asked Fr. Tornielli for admission. At first he was refused, but upon his insistence he was finally accepted on May 19, 1584. He received the habit on August 1, and changed his name to Eliseo in honor of his brother Elia. He professed his vows in St. Barnabas on August 3,1585, and continued his studies in Pavia. At his graduation he was called to teach philosophy and theology.
As he matured in his virtues, Fr. Torriani was called to be Superior of St. Paul in Casalmonferrato, of the novitiate in Zagarolo, of St. Blaise in Rome, of St. Vincent in Cremona, always surrounded by great esteem and admiration. In 1617 he was also General Visitor and Assistant General.
In 1629 the General Chapter elected him Superior General. He was well aware of the situation of the Congregation because of the many visits he had paid to all the houses as a General Visitor. He used his knowledge to address to every house a circular letter which laid down necessary rules for their spiritual and material welfare. He was indeed the first to practice the rules in the St. Barnabas community.
He started the canonical visit but after visiting the houses in Rome, just before Christmas, he got sick. Unfortunately all the cures were not able to brake his high fever. Aware of the seriousness of his condition Fr. Torriani asked for the Sacrament of the sick surrounded by all the confreres. He died on January 22, 1630 at the age of 62.
He was the first Barnabite to receive public praise at the funeral service, attesting to the extraordinary esteem he enjoyed.
Fr. Fregoso was born from a noble family of Genoa, which had moved to Milan. His great-great father was Spinetta Fregoso, Doge of Genoa and rules of Gavi.
After his studies at Brera, at the age of 19 he entered the Barnabite Congregation and professed his vows in Monza on January 15, 1601. He was sent to Pavia for philosophy and theology.
Once a priest he would be a teacher of the same subjects, but his great apostolic efforts would be exerted in Annecy with St. Francis De Sales. First of all he had to rebuild an old house to accommodate the religious community. When the school opened he had to be a disciplinarian and a teacher since other Fathers were not available as yet. He took care of the religious instruction and preached the practice of the Sacraments in all the churches of Annecy. In all his activities Fr. Fregoso was strongly supported by St. Francis De Sales.
At the beginning he wanted to introduce the religious instruction program used by St. Charles Borromeo in Milan, but after a while he realized that to make it work it had to be adapted to local needs. The results were splendid.
Fr. Maurice Arpud wrote: “I have been lucky to come to know this father and I have great veneration for his memory. He was of a noble family from Milan, a man of great knowledge. In school he had the respect of the students for the serious look of his eyes. Although he had great difficulties with French, he nonetheless would teach Religious Instruction with great results. He was faithful to the confessional and was very strong in encouraging good morals. At the altar he seemed like an angel; the whole city considered him a saint, and St. Francis De Sales loved him tenderly”
In his zeal for God’s glory Fr. Fregoso worked hard to reform a convent of Cistercian nuns in Annecy. As a matter of fact five nuns decided to open another convent of stricter observance.
He exhorted his spiritual children to mortification and he himself would fast three days a week. He was very faithful to mental prayer and the Office in choir, and he was never idle, always finding something to do including the laundry and the care of the garden. One day, St. Francis De Sales found him cutting wood, all sweat. Chatting they walked through the corridor leading toward his room. Later, when he was about to go to bed, Fr. Fregoso started to shiver with fever. He told Fr. Beretta who had been called to hear his confession: “This sickness will kill me/” St. Francis went to visit him, and so also the leading people of the city. In the morning of January 24, 1621, while the bells were ringing for the Angelus, Fr. Fregoso died in the Lord at the age of 41. At that very moment one of his penitents, the Canon Philip Dequoyn, was very sick too. He suddenly saw the soul of Fr. Fregoso going up to heaven. He exclaimed: “Wait, wait. Father, allow me to follow you!” and in saying so he too died in the Lord.
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) is considered the Saint of gentleness, mercy, Christian humanism and God’s love. As Bishop of Geneva, he wanted the Barnabites as his cooperators in the pastoral ministry and in the schools of Savoy and France. Because of spiritual affinity, he became one of their great friends and admirers; in words and in writings he praised them for their zeal and their warmth. Quite often he would amiably converse with them. Because of his benevolence toward them, he was affiliated to the Order in 1617. The Barnabites loved him and served him with filial dedication while he was alive; then they worked for his canonization and declared him “secondary” Patron of the Congregation (1716). From the common of pastors, 1734,or of doctors,1763.
St. Francis de Sales is one of the greatest patrons of our Congregation. He became so intimate with the Barnabites that he used to call himself a Barnabite, that is, “son of consolation.” The relationship between them was not just formal since he was more than a friend, but a father. More than an admirer, he was a true protector.
St. Francis met the Barnabites for the first time in 1613 when he went to Turin to ask the Duke Charles Emmanuel for some Jesuits to open a house in Annecy. The Duke suggested to take instead some Barnabites. In Milan he was a guest in St. Barnabas, “in the house which spread all over the fragrance of St. Paul,” as he used to say.
As soon as St. Francis went back to Annecy he called a meeting of the city council and informed them of the idea to have the Barnabites in the city. The proposal was so well accepted that the Saint, “In that unity of will... recognized God’s will to establish those good Fathers, foreseeing how useful for the edification and consolation of the city the Lord would make them. He was also assuring them that, if necessary, he himself would have gone to Milan to get them.”
The foundation was inaugurated on July 5, 1614. In a letter addressed to the most Rev. Fenouillet, Bishop of Montpellier, St. Francis expressed his satisfaction for the apostolate and the teaching of the Fathers: “Certainly our Barnabites are good people, more sweet than we can say, condescending, humble, and charming, beyond the ordinary measure of their home-country.” Another proof of his satisfaction was the fact that he used them for the spiritual direction of souls. “When the Blessed was leaving Annecy, he very gladly entrusted to those Fathers his spiritual children for confession and direction.”
Shortly after the foundation in Annecy the Bishop again approached the Duke of Savoy for another foundation in Thonon. In the petition he was very generous with praises for our Congregation. He was not satisfied with only two houses and so in 1617 he sent a letter to the General Chapter proposing, in accord with the Annecy community, to expand the Congregation in the whole diocese of Geneva. He had already talked to the Prince, especially for the opening of a novitiate in Rumilly (why it was not opened we do not know). He was instrumental for the foundation of houses also outside the diocese, like in Autun, Chabeuil and Montargis, and finally for the royal authorization to open houses all over France.
St. Francis showed his predilection for the Congregation and the esteem for the Fathers selecting them not only for the spiritual direction of his people but also for the members of his Sisters of the Visitation: he gave them fullness of freedom in selecting any Barnabite as their spiritual director.
The writer Magnier, a stranger to the Barnabites, wrote: “On a solemn feastday St. Francis De Sales used to set down at the modest table of the Barnabites, because of the spiritual joy of those days, the Chronicles say, and from his part he often invited them at his table.” “Equally he was always present to the scholastic celebrations of the Barnabites, at the dramatic presentations, which he appreciated a lot.” “For seven years, from November 1615, to October 1622, the last month of his life in Annecy (he died in Lyons), the Saint never missed any occasion to express affection and devotion to his Barnabites,” Fr. Riviere adds. “Because of the doctrine, candor, simplicity, and other qualities which he recognized in those Fathers, the Saint frequented them often and with great familiarity as if he was one of them. Very graciously he used to say that he was a Barnabite, a son of consolation.”
If he loved the Barnabites a lot, the Barnabites did not love him any less. More than anybody the Barnabites worked for his canonization, especially Fr. Guerin and Fr. Marin. Fr. Christopher Giarda (later a Bishop) published the first biography of the Saint, while Fr. Amedeo Comotto was the first to publish his writings in Italian. We have to remember also that the General Chapter declared St. Francis de Sales, together with St. Charles Borromeo secondary patron of the Congregation, and the Holy See granted the plenary indulgence on his feast day.
In 1892 the French Province obtained the right to recite the Office and the Mass proper of the Saint. In 1893 the privilege was extended to the whole Congregation and to the Angelic Sisters. We can add that when St. Francis de Sales was proclaimed Doctor of the Church another Barnabite, Cardinal Bilio, was very instrumental for the proclamation, as affirmed by the Bull of Pius IX: “Having heard the report of our venerable brother Cardinal Aloysious Bilio.”
- From the Postulatory Letter by Fr. Christopher Giarda, Barnabite, to Pope Innocent X, for the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, Francis de Sales, Bishop (Lyons 1648, pp. 4, 11-12)
Dead to himself, he lived for others.
We venerate a Bishop who, by his status and profession is a diocesan, but, by his vows is more religious than the religious themselves, i.e. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, founder of the Sisters of the Visitation, distinguished teacher of piety, incomparable model of pastoral zeal, a compassionate doctor more than a hammer of heretics. Passionate preacher, exquisite writer, famous doctor of the Church of France, very faithful to the Roman Catholic faith and its zealous defender and promoter. Amen pure in soul and body and, because of his longing and ardent desire for suffering, almost a martyr. Apostle of the Chiablese, a new Charles Borromeo on the other side of the Alps, a live and vibrant image of Christ the Redeemer come down from heaven. Because of his humility, generosity and sweetness in seeking the salvation of souls, there was no one like him to reflect the image of the Divine Model. In other words, a Bishop who did not lack anything which would cause a delay in the public proclamation of his holiness.
Francis lived for fifty-four years in the midst of men but with customs, manners and desires which were superior to the ones of ordinary people, with thoughts and feelings alien to the material things of the world.
Living in the midst of the worst possible people, he was considered the best; among heretics, a Catholic. As the waters of the Rhone River run in the midst of the waters of Lake Geneva without mixing with them, so Francis, in the purity and integrity of the Catholic religion, was not subject to any contamination or weakening of his faith. Dead to his very self, he lived for others and he lived as if only spiritual life existed for him, which is the only purpose of human life, generously dedicating all his strength for the benefit of souls. How many souls, dead to grace because of serious sins, he drew to sorrow and forgiveness!
How many atheists he recalled to the knowledge of the truth and faith in God! How many Calvinists he converted to the faith and to the Catholic religion! To all of them he gave birth as children in Christ and they were so many that their number could not be known except by the one who knows the number of the stars.
Fr. Piantoni was born in St. Michael (Crema) on October 1811 from a pious and well to do family. He entered the diocesan
seminary and was ordained a priest in 1834. Shortly after he felt called to religious life and asked the Barnabites for admission. He professed his vows in Monza in 1836.
He remained in Monza with the task to teach grammar in a Convent while exercising his priestly apostolate in the novitiate house. In 1845 he was called to teach at the Longoni school in Milan, while he was Vicar of the community. He became rector of the boarding school among the admiration and gratitude of the students and their families. Admirable was his assistance to the hundreds of wounded during the revolutionary events of 1848. In 1859 the Austrian government (Italy as a nation did not exist yet) removed him under the suspicion of being a patriot for the unification of Italy.
In St. Barnabas he was master of the clerics, but not for long. Since the French Province was reestablished Fr. Piantoni was called to be superior in Paris, where he stayed for six years. In 1865 he was transferred to the novitiate in Aubigny as master. He spent many years in that remote village edifying his novices. One of them was the Venerable Fr. Karl Schilling, who would always remember him with great admiration and veneration.
While in Paris he was able to satisfy a great desire of his: he went to Spain on a pilgrimage to visit Avila, the birth place of St. Theresa, toward whom he had a great devotion. Her spirituality would characterize his preaching and spiritual direction.
In the last years of his permanence in France he was also Visitor General until 1879. When elected Assistant he had to move to Rome. His first task was to reestablish the Barnabite theologate becoming its rector and professor for about two years. Finally because of his age and his health he was left free from these offices. He divided his time between study and prayer.
One of his students affirmed: “(Fr. Piantoni’s) recitation of the Divine Office and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist had a certain solemnity almost mystic, for sure profoundly Christian and priestly. We could detect in him an extraordinary piety and faith.”
He died on January 25, 1892, on the Conversion of St. Paul.
Following the renewal of spiritual life of the 1500’s, strongly helped by the Council of Trent, many pious people gathered in small communities to grow in spiritual life and to strengthen their priesthood, without leaving their city.
This is what happened in Pescia through Anthony Pagni, a Canon of the Cathedral and a pastor in Pietra Buona. He had a degree in Canon Law and could have pursued a high ecclesiastical career, but instead he aimed at reaching a more intimate union with the Lord. He found a companion in Dr. Paul Ricordati of Buggiano. Together they built the church of the Annunciation, inaugurated on March 25, 1600. Other priests and lay people joined them. As the group was growing it needed some specific direction. Blessed John Leonardi founder of the Clerics Regular of the Mother of God, intervened and put Fr. Pagni in charge, as he renounced all his privileges as a Canon of the Cathedral. Fr. Pagni, with the help of Fr. Leonardi, wrote a rule which was adopted by the group.
At the death of Fr. Leonardi, Fr. Pagni selected Fr. Giambattista Cioni as his spiritual director. He requested Rome for the official approval of his congregation or to join one already approved. The members did not agree much on this second option. By chance in 1615 the Barnabite, Fr. Pomponio Tartaglia of St. Frediano in Pisa, went to Pescia to preach and met Fr. Pagni. Fr. Tartaglia wrote:“Three of those good priests…, having prayed at length to the Father of light... went to the others, and with simplicity of faith everyone of them wrote on a piece of paper the name of different Religious Congregations, put them each in his own hat, having invoked again the Holy Spirit to show them which Institute they should join, all three at the same time drew the name of the Barnabites. Amused at this result they had no doubt about God’s will and announced the result to the whole Congregation. It was easy to convince all of them to join the Order of the Barnabites.” The formal petition went to Fr. Tartaglia and once all the red tape was cleared, Fr. General Cavalcani officially welcomed them into the Barnabite novitiate.
Anthony Pagni did not have much time to enjoy his new family. On the following January 14 he became very ill, and in ten days he reached the end of his life.
Among the people he had the reputation as a saint, and a large crowd attended his funeral, while many were claiming miracles at the touch of his body or even clothes. The crowd was so big that the Fathers had to take the coffin in the sacristy. The commotion caused the intervention of the Vicar of the Inquisition as he was disturbed by this demonstration of veneration. Following the funeral he was buried in the chapel of the Blessed Mother. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession, and therefore the cause of beatification was introduced. Why it was stopped later on, we do not know. We hope that in the future Fr. Pagni will be declared a saint.
We have no documents about his staying in Bagnora except for the mention made by Jerome Baldassini in his history of Jesi: “Our patrician and Bishop, a Cleric Regular of St. Paul, is worthy of special praise. A man of profound doctrine, he held with great glory many positions in his famous Order, including Vicar General. Then Benedict XIV nominated him Bishop of Bagnora. He is worthy of praise also for his despise of human glory, since he wanted not even a simple mention to be made of his name on the sacred vessels, with which he enriched the church of Bagnora”
In 1761 Clement XIII moved him to the diocese of Jesi. While in Rome, waiting for the consistory, he lived with our Fathers as a simple religious. He even participated in the procession to St. Peter on the occasion of the 1761 famine. The historian wrote: “’After a vacancy of’ two months, finally, on February 8, 1764, his Excellency Ubaldo Baldassini, already Bishop of Bagnora, was nominated, and on April 9 he was announced in the consistory as the new Bishop of the church of Jesi. His natural sweetness, the loving affability, the love he nourishes for the poor and not less for justice, are promising us a government which is going to be of great spiritual advantage for this city. On May 27, 1764, Bishop Baldassini arrived, welcomed not only by the nobles, but also by a large crowd of people from all over, with great joy and honor. At the doors of the cathedral he dismounted, was welcomed by the Chapter, and back on the carriage, he went to his home.”
One of his first accomplishments was the canonical visitation to the whole diocese, followed by a diocesan synod, whose Acts were published in 1772. Other accomplishments were an orphanage for poor girls, the construction of the chapel of Our Lady of Good Health, where he was to be buried, and a choir for the winter time on the side of the main altar in the Cathedral. He died on January 26, 1786, at the age of 85.
Bonaventure Bossi entered the novitiate in Monza and professed the vows in St. Barnabas on October 29, 1609, changing his name to John Angel.
Fr. Colombo wrote: “He was a canonist and a lawyer... he was at the service of the Archbishop of Pisa, Julian dei Medici and Scipio Pannacchieschi, as their theologian and synodal examiner. The Granduke Ferdinand II and other illustrious Italians appealed to him to resolve difficult situations. He was elected by our (confreres) to govern many houses and also the entire Congregation.” He was the 20th Superior General.
Many were his publications especially in Canon Law and Morality, and he is quoted quite often by St. Alphonse dei Liguori in his “Moral Theology.”
He died in St. Charles on January 27, 1665, at the age of 75.
John Anthony Canale was born in Milan on December 10, 1605. His parents, Mark of Milan, and Cornelia Carcano of Lodi, were middle class people involved in the lucrative market of silk. The Jesuits of the Brera took care of his secondary education. At the age of twelve he asked to enter the Barnabite Congregation since, as he said, it responded better to his personality. He was accepted in St. Alexander in Milan. In 1626 he entered the novitiate in Monza under the master Fr. John Alexander Ferrari. On the feast of St. Bartholomew the Provincial Superior, Fr. Chiesa, invested him with the Barnabite habit and changed his name to Bartholomew. In a short time the young novice gave signs of great virtues.
He professed his vows on September 1, 1627. For the study of philosophy he went to Milan, Pavia, and Novara. In 1630, the year of the plague, he was ordained a priest in Galliate by the bishop of Novara, Msgr. Volpi. His first assignment was Monza, to last until 1660. Inclined as he was to mystical life, Monza was the best place for him. Although for him spiritual life had the top priority, he did not shy away from any kind of work. Among other tasks he was also procurator and administrator for the community. During this time his mother died. Since her other sons had died during the plague, she bequeathed her estate to the Barnabites, and with the permission of the Superiors, she left a large amount of money to Bartholomew so that he could visit the most famous shrines in Italy. Fr. Canale started his journey in 1659 together with Fr. Melchior Bonetti. Due to many difficulties and the presence of bandits, it was not always a most pleasant trip. With the help of Divine Providence they visited Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Arpino, and Naples. On the day they returned to Monza, they met at the door Brother Caffesi who was about to leave the monastery. Fr. Canale told him: “Go back, put on the religious habit, since God has called you to his service.” The Brother obeyed and he had a long and holy life in our Order.
His two publications: “The Spiritual Diary “and “The Truth opened to the Christian” were the fruits of his long hours of meditation. His fervor for Divine Love was such that once he was found in ecstasy in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Because of his tendency toward private-ascetic life, the Carrobiolo in Monza was becoming too much of a distraction for him so he asked to be transferred. The Provincial Superior sent him to Cantù, which was considered the Siberia of the Congregation.
However, this peaceful solitude was not the plan of God, as he was right away elected master of the scholastics. He did a marvelous job and, according to Fr. Mondrone, he had the gift of introspection. His spiritual leadership brought the community to regular observance and eventually Fr. Canale’s election as Superior.
At that time a famine was devastating that region. One day the Procurator ran to Fr. Canale in desperation since there was no more food. Fr. Canale invited him to pray and to trust in Divine Providence. The next day an anonymous supply of food was delivered, sufficient for a whole year. A novice, Paul Carminati, was afflicted with TB and close to death. Through the intercession of Fr. Canale’s prayers and faith he was restored to health. Father himself became very sick and asked for the anointing. As soon as he was anointed he was healed. According to his own testimony he saw the Blessed Mother who assured him of his healing.
After five years he was elected Superior of the novitiate in Monza. Unfortunately his health was not that good and after three years he had to be removed. Fr. Canale then retired in his room, which he called his desert, to pray and meditate. It was during this period that he wrote his spiritual books to be translated in many languages.
The Lord used him for many marvelous things such as the recovery of the Superior, Fr. Rescalli, who was unable to go to Rome for the General Chapter because of an illness. In 1671 he was appointed confessor of the Angelic Sisters in Milan. Again his health was his major obstacle. However, the Superiors wanted him back in Monza, although 75 years old, to sanctify the novices. Again he performed many miracles through his healing powers.
Fr. Canale died in the Lord at the age of 76. The funeral was a great triumph. His tomb immediately became a point for pilgrimages and a source of graces. The cause of beatification was introduced immediately and on August 27, 1893, the heroicity of his virtues was declared by the Holy See making him officially a Venerable.
Fr. Moro was born in Brescia on August 7, 1827. From the public Liceum he passed to the diocesan seminary to study theology.
In 1848, he headed a group of twenty students who were offering their service at the hospital to assist the wounded during the revolution against Austria. Having received a special dispensation, he was ordained a priest very young. Right after ordination he asked to be received by the Barnabites, inspired by his uncle, Fr. John Moro. He professed his vows on September 14, 1853. His first assignment was as confessor in St. Mary’s al Carrobiolo in Monza, and as teacher in our school of St. Mary’s of the Angels.
After one year he was transferred to teach philosophy and theology in St. Barnabas. Two years later he was in St. Alexander’s parish, where his qualities as confessor, preacher, and religious had the chance to be fully exposed. Although very big in stature, he had a modest and compassionate character, full of tenderness.
In 1859, during the war of independence against Austria, he was again one of the first to attend the wounded in the hospital, and with such dedication, that the French government decorated him with the silver medal.
From 1859 to 1865 we find him involved in all kinds of assignments, a testimony to his manifold capabilities. But something more exiting was on the horizon. Fr. Stub, apostolic missionary in Sweden and Norway asked for help from the Congregation. Fr. Moro was selected for the mission. At first he helped Fr. Tondini in Stockholm and then in Christiania (Oslo). He had no difficulty to acclimatize himself and to learn the language. Right away he gained the respect and esteem of the people.
In 1869 the Paris community asked Fr. Moro’s help. Very obedient he transferred immediately giving of himself generously in the new apostolate. During the French-Prussian war of 1870 he left France for Denmark and then England. Back in Paris in 1871, he was nominated vicar and taught theology. In 1874 Fr. Moro was back in Sweden as chaplain of the Queen Mother, Josephine of Leuchtenberg, until June 7, 1876, when she died. In recognition King Oscar II made him a Knight of the Polar Star with an annual pension.
Fr. Moro went back to Paris, but only to be hit by the infamous degree of France ordering all foreign priests and religious out of the country in twenty four hours. Fr. Moro went back to Gefle in Sweden. But in 1888, he had to leave that post because the Holy See was taking over the mission. So he went to our novitiate in Mouscron, Belgium, and then to Paris as Superior.
Wherever he was, he was always of great edification for the confreres and the people. But again he had to suffer the French persecution which almost destroyed our work in that country. In 1902 he went back to Sweden and then to Mouscron again, where he died on January 28, 1904, at the age of 77.
Fr. Peter Sessa was born in Daverio (Varese) in 1550. He was baptized as Bartholomew. While studying at the University of Pavia he felt the call to religious life. He attributed the call to the Blessed Mother to whom he was very devout. He used to attend our church, Our Lady in Canepanova, therefore, he approached our Fathers for admission to the Order. After the customary three chapters, since “the postulant had a strong will and desire to serve the Lord,” he was accepted. He took the name Peter Mary in memory of Fr. Peter Mary Michiel who had just died. He professed his vows in St. Barnabas in 1576, and a year later he was ordained a priest in Cremona.
In 1583 we find him in Pozzaglio as assistant pastor; in 1586 in Pavia, and in 1587 in Vercelli. St. Christopher’s in Vercelli was in a pitiful condition, with some of the Fathers sick or absent. In the letter of presentation Father Bascapè has nothing but words of praise for Fr. Sessa’s maturity, wisdom, zeal, and holiness. His vocation was kind of extraordinary, with natural tendencies toward contemplation, which did not diminish his zeal for apostolic life. His love for God was the source of his love for neighbor.
In 1591 Fr. Sessa got sick, causing great worry especially for Fr. Bascapè, but, thank God, he did overcome the illness. In 1595 he was transferred to St. Alexander in Milan. For the last 28 years of his life he would be the doorkeeper of the monastery. All those who knocked at the door were overwhelmed by his sweetness and humility. Affable with all, he would do anything to satisfy their expectations. Many noblemen could not understand how a man of such caliber could waste his time attending the door. In 1595 he had passed “cum laude” his exam in Moral Theology allowing him to be a confessor, a task to which he would always be faithful.
Fr. Gorini tells us that one day, as he was sitting by the door, he jumped on his feet, opened the door and stopped a man on a horse: “Stop, miserable man,” he warned him, “and think about your soul and the danger you are in!” As the man stopped he continued: “Don’t be confused by my words, but move to repentance. I read in your heart, I know where you are going and what you wish to do, and I even know what is going to happen to you!” The man was indeed touched, and there and then he confessed himself.
Instead Fr. Parravicino testifies that since he was in the room next to Fr. Sessa’s, one night he heard him talking, so he peaked in and saw the smiling religious talking to an invisible person while a bright light surrounded him. Another day the doorbell was ringing and ringing, so Fr. Crivelli went to open it. Afterwards he went to look for Fr. Sessa and found him in church absorbed in contemplation in front of the Blessed Sacrament, elevated a few feet up in the air.
Fr. Sessa died on January 29, 1635, at the age of 74, after 50 years in religious life.
Thomas Francis Bilio was born on March 25, 1826, in Alessandria. From tender age he showed signs of an orderly and exact personality, and of great intelligence. At eleven he put into verses the speech of St. Stephen to the Sanhedrin, and at twelve he translated the Latin authors taught at the superior courses.
he death of his father, the poverty of the family, and the second marriage of his mother accelerated his maturity into adulthood. Feeling called to religious life, he knocked at the door of the Capuchins, to be refused because of his delicate physical conditions. Also the Dominicans refused him because of his young age. The Servites too refused to take him, but he did not give up.
Finally he went to Fr. Barrini, Superior of the Barnabites in Alessandria. The first thing the young Thomas asked for was the Constitutions of the Order which he studied in three days. He found no obstacles. Meantime the Fathers, having overcome some difficulties like his age, accepted him, and sent him to Genoa for the novitiate. On November 14, 1840, he received the habit and changed his name to Louis Mary in devotion to Our Lady and to St. Louis Gonzaga.
The Superior wrote to Fr. Bazzini: “I would be pleased if all the novices, present and future ones, would be like him!” One of his classmates said: “Louis distinguished himself from the other novices for his qualities and piety: he is very exact in the observance of the smallest rules, without loosing his joviality and amiability with all the other classmates, whom he surpasses, unwillingly, due to his superior spirit. His entire life was a development and a full affirmation of these qualities.”
On March 27, 1842, he professed his solemn vows in the hands of Father General Piconi. He had a set back because of his health, but was able to recover in the warm climate of Naples, and in 1857 he was in Rome to teach Canon Law and Dogma, revealing himself as an outstanding teacher. He was a thomist but always showed a great respect for the opinions of others. It was during this period that he finished the “Chronological Tables” of the history of the Church started by Fr. Mozzoni of the Congregation of the Brothers of St. John.
In 1865 he was elected Assistant General, while Pius IX named him consultor of the Holy Office, and later of the Index. His expertise was requested by many other Congregations and especially by the Pope for the composition of the famous Syllabus.
In 1866 Pius IX nominated him a Cardinal. Fr. Bilio tried to exonerate himself suggesting Fr. Vercellone instead, but the Pope smiled at him saying that he had contacted Fr. Vercellone, who, by now advanced in age, had refused in favor of Fr. Bilio! “The exterior change of habit” he wrote, “imposed on me, against my will, and in spite of my unworthiness, by the power of the venerable Pontiff, surely has not, nor will produce, I hope, any change in my heart: as a matter of fact, I know too well the great misery and the very serious obligation imposed on me by the sublime, but formidable dignity of the cardinalate”
He became a very outstanding figure in the preparation, the running, and the implementation of the Vatican Council I. He was a member of the presidency, member of many commissions, and president of the one on Dogma. After the Council he proposed to publish in 23 volumes the speeches of the Fathers of the Council, and he made the revision of the History of the Council, written by Msgr. Cecconi, Archbishop of Florence.
He had become a close confidant of the Pope, so that no document was ever issued without Cardinal Bilio’s consultation. He assisted the Pontiff with love and devotion until his very last breath.
Fr. Bilio was not only a great Cardinal, but also a fervent apostle and shepherd of his flock, the diocese of Sabina (1874-1884). Three times he made a canonical visitation of the diocese at the risk of his own life.
Among his virtues, charity toward the poor was very admirable. On April 5, 1883, at Morricone, sixty construction workers were victims of an explosion. The Cardinal rushed to the site to offer his assistance.
During the Conclave following the death of Pius IX, Cardinal Bilio and Cardinal Pecci were the leading candidates. As his votes were increasing, Cardinal Bilio took the floor and gave a speech in favor of Cardinal Pecci, even though France was favoring him. Cardinal Bilio was the first to offer his homage to the new Pontiff, Leo XIII, who continued the practice of Pius IX using widely Cardinal Bilio as a personal consultor.
He was at the peak of his career when the Lord called him. A terrible rheumatic fever attacked him on January 27, 1884. During the last three days of his life he exercised the virtues of patience and humility, very submissive to the doctors. He asked the Superior General, in the name of the whole Congregation, pardon for the bad example given in religious life, and he wished to kiss his hand. He died on January 30, 1884, at the age of 57, comforted by the Viaticum and the Anointing, the papal blessing, and the presence of Fr. General Baravelli.
On October 21,1950, the Barnabite priest Francis Xavier M. Bianchi was canonized a saint by Pius XII. He is a beautiful figure of a modern saint.
He lived between 1743 and 1815, in the midst of one of the most tormented periods of human history: French Revolution, the Kingdom and Empire of Napoleon, and violent revolutionary movements. A very sweet person, lovable and easy to approach, he was a father in the classroom, and for forty years he was the “apostle of Naples,” a title which became official on February 23, 1857, by decree of Pius IX.
Born in Arpino, Cicero’s home town, on December 2, 1743, he was baptized as Francis Xavier Philip. He attended the Barnabite grammar school, and among the teachers he had Fr. Gerard Conenovis and Fr. Louis Galli. Being a brilliant student, at 12 Francis was able to deliver a speech on the “Protection by Our Lady.”
Francis developed a strong desire to become a Jesuit. His parents, not enthused by the idea, sent him to the Nola seminary hoping he would at least become a diocesan priest. In Nola he met St. Alphonsus de Liguori who helped him to remove any doubts about his vocation for religious life. In 1761 he finished his philosophical studies and went back home. His parents had arranged for him a marvelous wedding, but to no avail; so they sent him to Naples to study Civil Law. He graduated not only in Civil Law but also in Canon and Municipal Law. When in 1762 he went back home he was determined to become a Jesuit, but, under the influence of his mother, he applied to the Barnabites to be closer to his home. He entered the novitiate in Zagarolo and professed his vows on December 28, 1763. In preparation for theology he went to Macerata to study scholastic philosophy. On October 16, 1765, Francis went to Rome for theology which he finished in Naples at St Charles’ alle Mortelle, because of his poor health. There he celebrated his first Mass on January 25, 1767.
In September he was assigned to Arpino to teach Arts, and two years later to Naples to teach philosophy. In 1773 he was elected Superior of St Mary’s in Cosmedin, and in 1779 he was a member of the General Chapter. Fr. General Peruzzini chose him as his companion during the canonical visit to North Italy. In Naples he had become an intimate friend of St. Frances of the Five Wounds, who suggested to him to write a diary of the trip, and it was through her intercession that the Archangel Raphael saved both of them from sure death when their carriage fell into a ravine. She used to say; “There are two Francis, a black (Neri) one in Rome, and a white (Bianchi) one in Naples (meaning St. Philip Neri in Rome, and St. Francis Bianchi in Naples).” She prophesied to him the great pains he was going to endure in his legs. Many times Fr. Francis saw part of his consecrated host disappear from the altar: the Archangel Raphael was bringing communion to Sister Frances who was sick in bed.
Fr. Bianchi was a complete person. He was the confessor, while totally dedicated to many apostolic activities; the scholar, the historian, the spiritual director, the reformer. He lived to its fullness the priestly life without any extraordinary deeds. He had a large circle of friends, and he knew how to cultivate friendships. He taught with scholarly competence, and wrote with grace and freshness, expert in Liberal Arts, Latin and Greek, while reading the Scriptures in their original Hebrew. He was a competent theology teacher at the Royal University of Sciences in Naples. Twice he was begged by the King to accept the episcopacy, but he felt more and more compelled to dedicate himself to the apostolate of suffering and obscurity. And so he started a period of fifteen years dedicated to recollection, contemplation, and penance. It became a period of preparation for his marvelous apostolate reaching out to the whole city of Naples right from his own cell, to last from 1801 until his death in 1815.
People were coming from all over the city and surroundings, and from any social class. Many of his penitents reached a high level of union with God, like the Venerable Vincent Morelli (Bishop of Otranto), Vincent Romano, Mariano Arcieri, Placido Baccher, and also King Emmanuel IV, and the venerable Queen Mary Clotilde. Many miracles were attributed to him, the most famous being when he stopped the flowing lava from Mount Vesuvius, which was threatening the city of Torre del Greco.
His trials were going to be the pains and suffering he had to endure due to a strange illness affecting his legs for the last eleven years of his life. The pain was atrocious: “From the top of my head to my toes I’m one pain; I’m suffering pains I cannot describe, and the doctors cannot explain!” he said to a penitent; “they are like thorns and fire”; “O my Lord, increase your grace and the pain.”
Another great pain afflicted him when, in 1805, the Congregation was suppressed by Napoleon. He did not give up the practice of his religious life. He prophesied the trials of Pius VII (accompanied by the Barnabite Fr. Fontana), and the end of Napoleon.
His great love was for the Holy Eucharist. During the whole day he would be bound to his chair, unable to stand, but when it was time to celebrate the Mass, all of a sudden his strength was back until the celebration was over.
The day of Pentecost of 1800 he was in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament when he was overwhelmed by such mystical joy that he felt his heart pierced by a sword of love, which made him scream and pass out. People testified to have seen him elevated in mystical union with God.
His end was approaching. One day he tried to get up from the chair and he fell, causing irremediable damage. He died on January 31, 1815.
His last biographer affirms: “Francis had the soul of the ascetic person. To confirm his union with God he had, besides the gift of miracles, the gifts of deep suffering and joyous ecstasies. But he was a concrete and operative person, gifted with that marvelous flexibility which is a main characteristic of our race; therefore, he was able to pass easily from contemplation to action. He kept intact, up to the radiant sunset of his life, the eternal youth of his heart. He had a love of predilection for the youth. He gave himself to the poor, but he did not despise the rich, whom he directed and guided toward God. The historical events which upset his stormy times had him as an alert and grief-stricken spectator... In a century bursting with heresies and vengeances, and robed by blinding and feverish hate, he preached by example and with the word of love which is light and life.. In the 1700’s, declared to be more heretic than the 1500’ s, and which saw the formation of the greatest dogmas of the anti-church, he kept his heart constantly dedicated to Peter as the unique light-house of truth. During an historical period called arid, superficial and animistic, he renewed his ardor and outburst as one of the greatest lovers of the Cross.”