Today, 23 Oct 2011, in Rome three new Saints were canonized. Each one was involved in founding a religious order, each one lived in modern times, and each one has a message for the world of our times. They are St Guido Maria Conforti, Archbishop; St Luigi Guanella, priest; and St Bonafacia Rodriguez de Castro, religious.
St Guido Maria Conforti was born in Italy in 1865 as the eighth of ten children. The grace of God was active from his early years. On the way to school he would call into the Church of Peace and pray before a large crucifix.”I looked at Him, and He looked at me, and it seemed He was telling me many things.” Reading the life of St Francis Xavier gave young Guido a thirst for a missionary apostolate. When ordination time drew close, Guido came down with a strange illness. Seeking the intercession of Our Lady at her shrine at Fontanellato obtained the grace of healing, and at last the grace of priestly ordination. God arranged that the Jesuit and Salesian orders did not admit him. Waiting strengthened his missionary desires. On 3 Dec 1895, a small group of students began their training as missionary priests under the guidance of Guido. China was their first mission field. As the new order was growing, God through Pope Leo XIII called Guido to become the Bishop of Ravenna, and proposed to him that Ravenna was the ‘China of Italy”. Widening his heart to embrace this second flock, Bishop Guido worked with zeal for his diocese. His health broke down, and he had to resign his diocese. Soon he was called again to take on another diocese, this time that of Parma. This time his health held and he served the people of Palma for almost 25 years, particularly the poorest and weakest. During WW1 he mobilised the diocese to help the wounded, the suffering and the prisoners of war. His desire to spread the Gospel to all the nations never left him, and Bishop Guido aided all kinds of missionary organisations including the Missionary Union of the Clergy. Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical Maximum Illud was due in part to Bishop Guido’s persistent requests for an encyclical that would reawaken the Church’s missionary fervour. Journeying to China was a great grace for him. “We don’t need 3000 missionaries in China, but 50,000!… I will look forward to that day when the whole of China will be called a Christian nation.” Ill health again overtook him in October of 1931 and he passed into eternity on 5 Nov 1931.
The message of St Guido’s life for our times: Pray for China, and keep aflame the missionary zeal of the Church. To learn more www.guidoconforti.com
St Luigi Guanella was born in Italy in 1842, the ninth of 13 children in his rural family. From his family he learned the value of manual labour, sacrifice and farming skills. When a priestly vocation became obvious an uncle stepped in and paid for his student expenses. At seminary Luigi nursed a fellow student who had contracted a deadly and contagious disease when everyone else avoided the sick youth. 1866 saw his ordination to the priesthood and the growth of desire to save souls for Jesus, even to undertaking severe penances. Viewing the ministries of St John Bosco and St Joseph Cottolengo at close quarters fired Luigi with inspiration. The old, the sick, the physically incapacitated and the mentally ill attracted Fr Luigi’s special concern, for whom he founded Houses of Providence and two religious orders, the Servants of Charity and the Daughters of St Mary of Providence, to care for them. Refusing to label anyone ‘retarded’, he called them his ‘good boys’, his ‘good children’ and his ‘treaures’. Local political unrest led to times of tension and surveillance. Soon, the needs of the people of God called Fr Luigi to set up Houses of Providence in other places like Como. His trust in Divine Providence never wavered. When asked “But if too many come seeking a home, where will you put them?’ he replied ‘Just let them get in the door and Providence will take care of them.’ To St Joseph, Fr Luigi turned with great devotion and inspired all his religious to do so as well; founding a Chapel in St Joseph’s honour and an Association in honour of St Joseph, patron of the dying. The Italian earthquakes of 1905 and 1915 left many in need, and Fr Luigi and his religious answered those needs to the best of their ability. In St Pius X, Fr Luigi found a friend and a willing patron of his charities. After many foreign travels to assist others Fr Luigi was called to his eternal home on 24 Oct 1915.
The message of St Luigi’s life for our times: God’s providence can accomplish more than we can ever think possible, and the mentally ill and mentally challenged need our special love, protection and respect. To learn more : www.luigiguanella.com
St Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro was born in Spain in 1837 to a family of craftworkers. Her father was a tailor, and Bonifacia herself when young learns the trade of cord-making. Being the eldest when her father died, Bonifacia began work at age 15 to help support the family. Devotion to St Joseph and to Our Lady, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, was strong with her. At cord-making, tassel-making, fringe-making, needle-work and similar crafts, her hands worked while her heart and mind were fixed on God. Once her siblings are settled in life, Bonifacia was free to pursue prayer and service to others. Attracted by her life, young women begin to meet at her shop and form the Association of the Immaculate and St Joseph. The Association helps the young women grow in faith and keeps them safe from the dangers of worldliness. Desire for religious life grows in Bonifacia, but before she can take steps to enter the Dominicans a Jesuit, Fr Francsico Butina is placed in her path by God. He has a huge desire to lead manual workers to holiness through the sanctification of their daily work. Inspired by him, Bonifacia, her mother and six others begin the Congregation of the Servants of St Joseph in 1874. Their motto is ‘Work,Faith, Love’. They are inspired by carpentery shop of St Joseph in Nazareth. Fr Butina is quickly taken away from the infant congregation, and trials immediately fall upon Bonifacia’s shoulders. Someone less worthy is appointed superior and Bonifacia is ordered to leave the mother house. Responding to all the negative things with silence, humility and forgiveness, Bonifacia begins a new foundation at Zamora. In 1900 papal approval is given to the new order, specifically excluding the house in Zamora. Bonifacia tries to obtain a reconciliation between the houses, but is rebuffed. Only after her death will these communities be united. Entry into eternity comes to her in 1905.
The message of St Bonifacia’s life for our times: That our daily work done with love, dedication and honesty can bring us to holiness and that St Joseph can aid us greatly in this quest. To learn more: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20031109_castro_en.html
St Guido Maria Conforti, pray for us
St Luigi Guanella, pray for us
St Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro, pray for us
Thank you, gracious Redeemer, for raising up these three Saints, and for all the graces that will come to humanity through their example and intercession.