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.

4301 Hecktown Rd
Bethlehem, PA 18020

Menologion - September

It was the evening of September 18, 1771: “Father, what time is it?” “It is 11:00 p.m.” “Good, it is a good hour: still another and I will be in eternity.” Indeed, exactly at 12 midnight, having given a last glance at the little picture of Our Lady of purity, and kissing the Crucifix, he gave his beautiful soul…

At that very same moment, in Naples, his great friend and spiritual father, St. Francis Xavier Bianchi, stopped the reading of the Divine Office and said to the novice who was reciting it with him: “Let us kneel and let us say a De Profundis, because at this very moment, at Santa Anastasia, Don Francesco has died.”

It was the same saint to dictate the epigraph which will be engraved on the tomb: “Hail, most innocent soul…, and remember us in the heavenly kingdom.”

                        (Fr. Sala, Fiore del Vesuvio)

         SEPTEMBER

2       September
- 1537    Anthony Mary returns to the Vicenza mission as the second process against the Paulines was concluded on a positive note.
4       September
                         Father DIONISIO VISCONTI (1602-1630)
                         Brother IPPOLITO PARMIGIANI (1561-1630)
                         Student CHARLES ANDREA MIGNATTA (1607- 163 0)
                         Father PLACIDO RICCARDI (1601-1630)
                         Brother MELGHIOR RANCATI (1 605- 163 0)
                         Father IUVENZIO BECCARIA (1562-1630)
                         Father MODESTO TREVISO (1603-1630)
 
5       September
- 1567        St. Charles Borromeo consecrates the main altar of St. Barnabas church in Milan
- 1784        Father JULIAN SCHLEIFFER (1721-1784), Apostle among the Austrian soldiers.
- 1948        Father LOUIS ROMANELLI (1882-1948), he gained the trust of his confreres as an administrator and principal of our scholastic institutes in Bologna and Florence.
 
6       September
- 1551        Mother Domenica Battista da Sesto, First Prioress of the Angelics (1536).
- 1617        Brother LUDOVIC BITOZ (1578-1617), Apostle among the Huguenots in the Bearn
- 1880        Father GIUSTO PANTALINI (1813-1880), Co-founder, with Maria Bucchi, of the Institute of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Monza.
 
 7       September
- 1753        Father PETER GRAZIOLI (1700-1753), Artist, historian and poet.
- 1949        Father ALDO AUGUSTIN BORSIERI (1878-1949), Professor of literature, he became vice-president of FUCI (Federation of Catholic Universities), dear to the future Paul VI; pastor in St. Charles ai Catinari; preacher widely sought, he knew how to combine his literary skill with simplicity and clarity to convey the profound truths of our faith.
 
8       September
- 1841        Father LOUIS SPISNI (1789-1841), 54th Superior General.
  
10     September
- 1748        Father JOHN BAPTIST GROPALLO (1683-1748), Confessor of Benedict XIV.
 
11     September
- 1896        Inauguration of the new Monastery of the Angelics in Milan.
- 1924        Father ALEXANDER GHIGNONI (1857-1924), Preacher and lover of sacred music.
 
12     September
Most Holy name of Mary, Mother of God; name the Barnabites add to their own on the day of their profession.
- 1788        Father ALEXANDER AZIMONTI (1756-1788) and Father CLAUDIO BUTTIRONI (1759-1788), Missionaries in Burma.
- 1957        Father SAVINO AGAZZI (1878-1957), Missionary in Brazil, founder of the St. Rafael church in Sao Paulo.
- 1966        Father AUGUSTIN MAZZUCCHELLI (1886-1966), a most exemplary priest and committed religious. In the ministry of the Word and in the confessional, in the guidance of souls and the government of communities, in the teaching of religion and his many activities in Cremona, Monza, and Rome, he donated his gifts of deep piety and bounty with apostolic zeal, loveliness of a saint, the gift of wisdom; he was always ready to listen and to give comfort.
 
14     September
- 1542        Father FRANCIS CRIPPA (1502-1542), one of the first companions of the Holy Founder.
- 1641        Bishop CELESTINO PUCITELLI (1589-1641), Bishop of Scala and Ravello.
 
15     September
- 1636        Father ANACLETO SECCHI (1586-1636), Historian of the three co-founders.
- 1855        Father JOHN PETER CURTI (1811-1855), helped Ancilla Ghezzi in the foundation of the Sacramentine Sisters in Monza.
 

16     September

- 1944        Father JOSEPH BOFFITO (1869-1944), a man of culture and full of humility, he spent his life at the service of the young, especially in Florence. A bibliographer, expert in Dante, scientist, historian, he was most active with Academies and various magazines, but, most of all, as a Barnabite he dedicated all his skills in the composition of the “Biblioteca Barnabitica Illustrata” in four volumes.

18     September
- 1771        Servant of God FRANCIS CASTELLI (1752-1771), a disciple of St. Francis Xavier Bianchi.
- 1922        Father ALEXANDER SESSA (1852-1922), a venerated master of novices.
 
19     September
- 1528        St. Anthony M. Zaccaria is ordained a Sub-deacon.
- 1986        A formal proposal is made to reestablish the Third College under the title of “Laity of St. Paul”.
                         Father TIMOTHY RINALDI (1603-1630)
                         Brother ANTHONY DELLA CHIESA (+1630)
                         Father GUGLIELMO VALIMBERTI (1581-1630)
                         Brother GUGLIELMO BORGOGNONI (+1630)
                         Brother JOHN AUGUSTIN MONDINI (1 590- 1630)
 
20     September
- 1656        Bishop OTTAVIUS ASINARI (1594-1656), Bishop of Ivrea.
- 1712        Bishop RAPHAEL RAGGI (1653-1712), Bishop of Aleria.
- 1743        Bishop MERCURTNO ARBORIO GATTINARA (1685-1743), Bishop of Alexandria.
- 1806        Introduction of the cause of canonization for our Holy Founder, by Pius VII.
 
21     September
- 1776        Father GERMAN DE NOGUEZ (1706-1776), 42nd Superior General.
 
22     September
- 1665        Bishop VINCENT ROTARIO (1601-1665), Bishop of Asti
- 1964        Father LEOPOLD GEROSA (1882-1964), Missionary in Brazil.
 
23     September
- 1790        Father NICOLO SPENGER (1721-1790), Great apostle in St. Michael, Vienna.
 
24     September
- 1601        Father JOHN BAPTIST SORESINA (1514-1601), One of the first companions of the Founder.
 
27     September
- 1789          Father GIOVENALE SACCHI (1726-1789), Man of culture and a musician.
 
29     September
- 1533       Zaccaria and Ferrari start community life in the residence of St. Catherine de’ Fabbri, nearby Porta Ticinese in Milan (the little church was destroyed at the end of 18th century); two years later the community was transferred to the residence nearby St. Ambrose, vacated by the Angelics, who had moved to the newly constructed monastery of St. Paul the Converted by St. 
- 1583        Father JOJN PAUL SACCO (1518-1583), companion of the co-founders, master of novices.
- 1608        Bishop EUGENE CATTANEO (1551-1608), Bishop of Telese.
 
29     September
- 1762          Father CAJETAN SOLA (1687-1762), 36th Superior General

 

 

 September 4

FATHER PLACID RICCARDI and COMPANIONS
Victims of the 1631 pestilence in Pavia

 

In the pestilence of 1631, which infuriated in Pavia, three Fathers, one professed novice, and two Brothers gave their lives at the service of the people (two other Fathers died later in Milan as a consequence of the illness).

The first victim was Fr. Dionysus Visconti, who from the very beginning had offered himself to the Bishop to serve the victims of the plague. He became a victim himself on August 8, at the age of 29. Fr. Strada wrote, “On the fifth day of his illness Fr. Dionysius Visconti passed to a better life. He had received all the Sacraments. He had dedicated himself to the service of the victims of the pestilence, having received permission from Father General. He was buried in a coffin with quick lime and it was totally covered with pitch, in a deep hole, under the choir of the church.”

Fr. Ippolitus Parmigiani, 70 years old, died on the same day. He too had received permission to work among the sick.

Another victim was the novice Charles A. Mignatta, 22 years old, who had just arrived in Pavia for his studies.

Then came the turn of Fr. Placid Riccardi who for months had been serving the sick. He was teaching theology at the “St. Mary Incoronata” when he offered his service for the sick to Bishop Fabrizi Landriani. At first he worked in the Lazaretto, but, then, with the shortage of available priests, the Bishop called him to his house to take care of the Cathedral. Fr. Riccardi tried his best to work in both places, but not for long, as he himself became a victim of the plague. “On September 4, Fr. Placid Ricciardi, victim of the pestilence, passed to a better life… having received the Sacraments. His coffin was accompanied by the Bishop, the Chapter of the Cathedral, the orphans, and many parishioners.”

The following day it was Brother Melchior Rancati’s turn, at the age of 25. He was working with Fr. Ricciardi. Fr. Barelli wrote: “The apostolic ministry, which more than any other attracted the love of the citizens toward the Barnabites, was their heartfelt magnanimity, as they gave themselves at the service of the victims of the pestilence...they considered it a gain to die saving another’s life.”

To these five we have to add another three who did not die of pestilence as such, but as a consequence of their ministry among the victims of the plague: Fr. Iuvenzio Beccaria, Fr. Modesto Treviso, and Fr. Gregory Rossignoli.

 

 September 5

FATHER JULIAN SCHLEIFFER
Apostle among the Austrian soldiers
(1721-1784)

 

Fr. Julian was born on February 7, 1721 in Statzendorf (Austria). When 15 years old he entered our novitiate in Mistelbach on November 15, 1737. After philosophy, he went to Rome for theology, and was ordained a priest in Vienna on March 1, 1744. His first assignment was to teach theology. In 1752 he published “Centum assertiones theologicae,” and became a well known preacher.

The Austrian government had asked the Barnabites to assist their troops stationed in Lombardy. In 1760 Fr. Julian took Fr. Schreiner’s place in Mantua, residing in our house. Twice he was Superior of the St. Charles community in Mantua, first from 1772 to 1776, and then from 1779 until his death in 1784. It was after the General Chapter of 1779 that Fr. Julian accompanied St. Francis Xavier M. Bianchi for the visitation of some of the houses, as the Saint himself mentions in his diary: “On May 29, 1779 I departed together with Fr. Schleiffer, Superior in Mantua...”

In 1781, he fought with all his strength the anti-canonical prescription of the Emperor Joseph II, ordering the separation of all religious in the Empire from their major Superiors and to create separate and autonomous groups. He wrote, rewrote, and protested, but to no avail. Finally, for the lesser evil, he gave in, and by capitular decision, the Mantua community, although a member of the province of Tuscany was declared part of Lombardy (which was part of the Austrian Empire).

On September 5, 1784, at the age of 66, he died with the comfort of all the Sacraments.

 

 

September 6

BROTHER LUDOVIC BITOZ
Apostle among the Huguenots in the Bearn, France+
(1576-1617)

 

We Barnabites today do not have the joy to know where the body of Bro. Bitoz is laid. While his biographical news is very scarce, his memory is one of the dearest in the history of the Congregation.

He was born in Bayon (France) in 1567. His parents, Anthony and Marie Paese, were business people.  At baptism he was called Anthony, after his father. His mother had become a ferocious Calvinist advocate against Catholicism. Anthony received his religious instruction from his sister, and his religious beliefs became so deep that his own mother could not sway him. When 16 he went to Toulouse to live with an uncle, a leather merchant. Trusting the young Anthony, he sent him to Italy for business. Anthony, after a perilous sea trip from Marseilles to Genoa, in 1604 established himself in Milan. A rich merchant offered him his daughter in marriage but he refused, since he was thinking about religious life.

Attracted by the quiet and mystical atmosphere of the fathers, he used to go to St. Barnabas church. After many hesitations he finally asked to speak to one of them. Fr. Cagnola suggested to him to go back to his uncle to take care of all his businesses and then come back. In one year he was able to settle all his businesses, and so he went back to St. Barnabas.

On March 14, 1607, at the age of 29, he entered the novitiate in Monza as a Brother. On September 23rd of the same year he received the habit, changing his name to Ludovic. His novitiate was a very hard trial from the very beginning. He was the victim of deep nostalgia for his country and his past. At the same time there were also some misunderstandings with the superiors, and one particular confrere had become quite nasty in making fun of the “foreigner.” The pressure was such that he got very sick. Finally, when he was able to open his heart to the superior he got better, and, on September 29, 1608 he was able to profess his vows.

After few months in Milan, Brother Bitoz went to Turin. In 1610 he joined Father Colom in Paris. Fr. Colom was in the French Capital to intercede for our mission in the Bearn, Southern France. What was supposed to be a short visit became a permanence of two years. Bro. Ludovic joined him residing in the monastery of the “Fogliants.” There they tried to lead regular Religious Life. Fr. Colom affirmed that the presence of Bro. Bitoz was a blessing from the Lord. Every day he would come back home from his activities to find always a listening soul full of comfort and Christian love.

During Lent of 1611, while Bro. Ludovic was at prayer, the Blessed Mother appeared to him with her Son at her side. By natural reaction Bro. Ludovic found himself approaching the open heart of Jesus to drink the Divine Blood. This kind of apparition became a regular event until his death. Right from the beginning, Bro. Ludovic shared his experience with Fr. Colom, who gently guided him to make sure there were no illusions, asking also the counsel of theologians in Paris. For Bro. Ludovic, it was nothing else but an increase of God’s love in his heart, a love he shared with the poor, the sinners, the heretics, and with anyone in need, materially or spiritually. That was the best proof of the authenticity of his experience.

Toward the end of their stay in Paris, Bro. Ludovic became seriously ill with pleurisy, even to the point of death. He was cured instantly and was able to join Fr. Colom in their trip to the Bearn in Southern France. First thing, Bro. Bitoz learned the language and then prepared a catechism It must have never been published as we have no copy. To help in catechetical instructions he also decorated the chapel of St. John the Baptist with biblical phrases, the symbols of the Passion, and with images of the saints. At first he went into the streets to gather the children, and later also the parents for religious instruction.                              

After one year Brother had to go to Paris to take care of Fr. Colom who was very sick. When he got better, their trip back home was a disaster. One of the horses died on the way. They stopped at the local Convent in Saints, where the Abbess was Frances de Foix, and the Prioress Magdalene de Four. We mention these two ladies because, impressed by the holiness of Bro. Bitoz, he directed them in their spiritual journey. Just before his death Bro. Ludovic will beg Fr. Colom to destroy two of his compositions, on “Mortification” and on “Divine Love,” both addressed to the Prioress.

The two missionaries left Saints on September 12, 1614, to reach their home in Monein. Brother Bitoz will stay there until his death, busy with his catechetical program, but especially giving magnificent example of Christian virtues through his daily life.

In his private life Bro. Bitoz was very frugal. His room was small and simple, where he liked to hide for his contemplation and mystical experiences. “I am the only one,” Fr. Colom wrote, “who can say how many extraordinary graces God granted him.” In the spring of 1617 he had a very bad cough which got worse toward Easter time. The doctor discovered a lesion in his lungs: TB. A violent fever brought him to his death. He never lost his calm and sweetness. Two days before his death he had a vision of St. Paul who consoled him. On September 6th, he felt worse than ever. He greeted Fr. Colom and Fr. Olgiati and entered into agony. He died at the age of 38, after ten years as a religious and six as a missionary.

He was buried in the chapel of St. John. Few years later the chapel collapsed. In 1887, the French priest Dubarat, encouraged by Cardinal Lavagirie, Bishop of Nancy, tried to identify the location and burial site, but he was not successful. What we have left is a beautiful biography of his life written thirty years later by Fr Colom himself.

 

 

September 6

FATHER GIUSTO PANTALINI
Co-founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Monza
(1813-1880)
 

Fr. Pantalini was born on September 13, 1813.  Called by the Lord to the priesthood, he entered the seminary in Monza, but then in 1834 he asked to enter our Congregation to be a religious.  Admitted to the novitiate in Monza he professed his vows on October 22, 1835. He studied theology in St. Barnabas, Milan, and was ordained a priest in May 1836. His first assignment was to teach natural sciences in our school of “St. Mary of the Angels” in Monza, where he was to stay until 1847, when he was transferred to the Longoni school in Milan, but only for a short time as in 1851 he was back in Monza.

In 1873 our boarding-school of “St. Mary’s of the Angels” was closed by the Austrian Masonic government. Fr. Pantalini joined the Carrobiolo community until 1877 when the school was reopened.

Father dedicated himself to all kind of activities in the city, among them the assistance to orphan girls. This led to the foundation of the new Institute of the Most Precious Blood. Some young girls had become members of the Third Order with the Canossian Sisters. Fr. Pantalini together with the Canon Giuseppe Fossati worked on transforming them into a new Congregation. He dedicated himself especially to the spiritual formation of the new Sisters and wrote their Rule as asked by the Archbishop of Milan.

He had been always very healthy, but suddenly he became sick with TB which led him to his death on September 7, 1880.

 

 

September 7

FATHER PETER GRAZIOLI
Artist, historian, poet
(1700-1753)

 

Peter was born in Budrio on May 30, 1700, from Joseph and Anna Maria de’ Tombi. He attended the St. Lucy School of the Jesuits in Bologna. When 19, he asked for admission to our Congregation. His novitiate took place in St. Bartholomew in Genoa.

After his theological studies he was assigned at first to read philosophy in Lodi, and then to teach Rhetoric in St. Alexander’s school in Milan. He reached an excellent reputation as a teacher. Many were his admires and followers, among them Ludovico Muratori, a great scholar of the time, who in his publications used to quote Fr. Grazioli extensively. On November 23, 1735, he addressed the following letter to Fr. Grazioli: “...the conclusion is that V.R. (Your Lordship) lacks nothing worthy to be enumerated among scholars. You are able to combine in your style cheerfulness and solid material for the critics... To please you I have tried to find some defects in your book. I have not been able to find any; instead, I congratulate you for your work which brings honor to you and to Milan. My desire is that some other subject would be treated by your great mind, because you have proved that you can be greatly successful in everything.”

In 1739 he was transferred to Bologna as Superior of St. Paul. Very sensitive to the needs of his confreres, at the same time he was very demanding for regular observance. Fr. Grazioli continued with his love for literature and also art. At the end of his term as Superior, Pope Benedict wrote to Father General: “Our love for your Barnabite religious family is so strong. The city of Bologna is receiving so much good from the Fathers at the Penitentiary, and from the new teachers assigned to the Diocesan seminary, that we have determined to put a Barnabite as Rector of the same seminary; and the first one we desire to be Rector is Fr. Grazioli, well known to us.” Father did try to convince the Pope to reconsider his decision, but to no avail. The installation ceremony took place on April 1, 1745.

He cared both for the academics and for the spiritual life to the seminarians and faculty. He obtained from the Senate the status as a University for the seminary faculty and enlarged the building. He continued his personal studies and publications. In the midst of his activities he fell very sick and when only 53 he died on September 7, 1753 and was buried in our church of St. Paul.

 

 

September 8

FATHER LOUIS SPISNI
54th Superior General
(1789-1841)

 

Fr. Spisni was born in the Bologna region on June 21, 1789. When 16 he entered our novitiate in Monza; however, the Napoleonic rules prevented him from professing the vows. He moved to Milan to study philosophy but in 1810 the suppression forced him to go back home to his parents. Sure of his vocation, he joined and finished his studies in the diocesan seminary, and was ordained a priest. He spent his time between the apostolate and his studies, always longing for religious life. Finally he heard that Plus VII had given way to the reestablishment of the Barnabites. He presented himself immediately to Cardinal Fontana, who welcomed him with open arms. He professed his vows on May 15, 1815.

His first assignment was in Bologna to teach at the St. Louis school. He became so well known as a teacher that Cardinal Opizzoni offered him the chair of ethics at the University. He refused so that he could dedicate himself to the apostolate of the Word as he traveled from one city to another to preach, completing his work in the confessional. The same Cardinal then made him pro-synodal examiner, asked him to help in the seminary, and relied on his counsel.

The confreres made him Superior of St. Lucy in 1833, and then Provincial Superior in 1835, and three years later, when he was 49, he was elected Superior General of the Congregation and was reelected in 1841. He had to sacrifice his studies, but not his apostolate, and he gave himself totally in love and solicitude to the care of the Congregation. He also served the Church at large as Gregory XVI made him a member of the Congregation for the Bishops and Religious, and of the Inquisition.

He was very healthy and robust, but suddenly a severe fever of a mysterious nature, started to consume him, bringing him to his death on September 8, 1841.

 

 

September 10

FATHER JOHN BAPTIST GROPALLO
Confessor of Benedict XIV
(1683-1748)

 

Fr. Gropallo came from a noble family of Genoa. When 20 he knocked at the door of St. Bartholomew, asking for admission. On October 3, 1702 he received the Barnabite habit and changed his baptismal name, Dominic, to John Baptist. He professed the vows on September 30, 1703. At the end of his studies in Rome, he was ordained a priest and his first assignment was in Fossombrone. He will spend 15 years in this community and then 25 in Rome until his death.

The Bishop of Fossombrone made him his theologian and charged him with the teaching of moral theology in the public schools. His reputation spread behind the limits of the diocese and in 1723 Cardinal Spinola decided to make him his own personal theologian. As he moved to Rome, his talents become a precious gift to many Cardinals, like Picco, Imperiali, Ruffo, and Spinola. Two years later, in 1725, the Pope himself, Benedict XIII, recognized his talents and made him apostolic examiner for the clergy, while Benedict XIV assigned him to the administration of the benefices of the dioceses of Italy, and even selected him as his personal confessor.

A man of great humility, Fr Gropallo excelled in his care for the confreres who were sick. He also faithfully observed regular observance either as Superior in St. Charles, or as Assistant or Procurator General. It was his joy to bring to a happy ending the cause of beatification of St. Alexander Sauli.

Benedict XIV was ready to honor him, when Fr. Gropallo got sick in 1748 with a high fever, which in three months brought him to the end. During those months of suffering he gave a tremendous witness of holiness, and many were the personalities who expressed their veneration. He died on September 10, 1748, at the age of 65.

 

 

September 12

FATHER ALEXANDER AZIMONTI
(1756-1788)

FATHER CLAUDIO BUTTIRONI
(1759-1788)
Missionaries in Burma

 

Fr. Azimonti professed his vows in Monza on October 26, 1775, and finished his studies in St. Barnabas and in Pavia, reaching the priesthood in 1779. Until 1785, when he was assigned to the Missions, he taught philosophy and theology in various houses.

Fr. Buttironi professed in Monza too, on October 21, 1776. He too was in St. Barnabas and Pavia for his studies, until he was ordained a priest in 1781. The two of them were together in Bormio in the teaching apostolate, and then Azimonti was assigned to Bologna and Buttironi to Mantua. The two nourished their friendship through correspondence, and both of them volunteered for the Burma Mission.

In January of 1787 they sailed with Bishop Mantegazza toward the Orient. After a long journey of one year, in 1788 they reached Pondichery, where they had to separate as Fr. Buttironi proceeded for Madras and then Rangoon, while Fr. Azimonti was assigned to Tavai.

Very few are the news we have of their apostolic endeavors. Fr. Buttironi stayed for a while in Rangoon with Fr. D’Amato to learn the language, then he moved to Kiandaro, but he lasted only a short while consumed by a high fever. Fr Azimonti too, after a short period of intense apostolate, became a victim of a high fever. He was sent back to Pondichery, hoping to save him, but in vain. He too died in 1788.

 

 

September 14

FATHER FRANCIS CRIPPA
One of the first companions of the Holy Founder
(1502-1542)
 

Fr. Crippa was one of the first eight companions of the Holy Founder: “all of them from noble families from Milan. They renounced the glories of their families, forgetting the comforts of their homes, and instead decided to lead together a life of poverty and humility under the leadership of the Blessed Zaccaria. Following his discipline they were formed to the perfection of Christian life, and denying themselves, with contempt for earthly things, they crucified their flesh, spent time in prayer, dedicated to charity, the study of Holy Scripture, and the salvation of souls. They were happy with meager food, surviving on alms, partially provided by the Countess of Guastalla” (Fr. Gabuzio).

Fr. Crippa became a member of the group when he was a newly-ordained priest, and received the habit from St. Anthony Mary on August 15, 1534.

In the letter written before his death, Zaccaria characterizes Fr. Crippa as “the lowly Sir Francis,” to describe his holy humility.

In the August of 1542, Fr. Crippa got very sick, and received all the Sacraments. He was only 40 when on September 14, 1542, he died. He was buried in the church of the Angelic Sisters.

 


September 14

BISHOP CELESTINE PUCITELLI
Bishop of Scala and Ravello
(1589-1641)
 

Severino Pucitello was born on November 9, 1589, in San Severino (Marche). As a young boy he frequented the church of Our Lady run by the Barnabites, which led him to ask for admission to the Congregation. He made his novitiate in Zagarolo, professing the vows in 1609, at the age of 18. After his ordination in Rome, he was busy with a very vast program as a preacher from one city to another, and in 1624, Urban VIII sent him, together with Fr. Mazenta, to Palermo in Sicily as an apostolic missionary.

Another activity which characterized his life was his function as Superior in various communities, especially in 1629-31 in St. Alexander in Milan. On February 15, 1630, he went to Faenza to preach. On his return he found the doors of Milan barred due to the pestilence; therefore, he had to go to Rome. This turned out to be a blessing, because during this period there was a controversy with the diocese of Milan about St. Alexander parish, and the presence of Fr. Pucitelli in Rome was a determining factor to resolve it in our favor. In 1631-36 he was Superior in Genoa and then in Naples.

At the end of 1636, Urban VIII made him Bishop of Scala and Ravello, in the Kingdom of Naples. He was consecrated on August 23, 1637, but before taking possession of his diocese he went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady in his native place. His episcopal life, full of “virtuous works worthy of his wisdom,” lasted only four years. In the fall of 1641, while in his native city, he fell very sick and died on September 14th, at the age of 52. He was buried in Our Lady church in front of the altar dedicated to her.

 


September 15

FATHER ANACLETO SECCHI
Musician and great devotee of the Holy Founder
(1586-1636)

 

Fr. Secchi’s biography exalts his tireless efforts in keeping alive and divulging the devotion toward St. Anthony M. Zaccaria. His collection of testimonies, events, and proofs will constitute a precious contribution in the process of canonization.

He entered the Congregation when 17, in Monza, professing the vows on December 8, 1603. He was ordained a priest in Milan in 1610. His first destination was in Naples, and in 1617 he was elected the first Superior of the new house in Aquila. The local Bishop appreciated his talents and made use of him “in the most serious situations of his government, in the consultations, in the exams, and the visitation to the city and diocese. Fr. Secchi preached there for Advent in 1621, and for Lent in 1622 in Arpino, and the following year in Rome.”

In his active life he cherished a tremendous desire to see the Founder honored and venerated. In 1620 he exposed in public the paintings of the Blessed Founder and of Blessed Alexander Sauli (this was before the new regulations by Urban VIII). And he did this wherever he was assigned.

In 1629 he was sent to Germany to give more power to the new foundations, and the Superior General also sent him to Poland. In 1630 he was in Krakow to deal for the possession of our house in Mistelbach.

Toward the end of his life he was Superior of St. Barnabas and also Assistant General. He served also as Visitor, Chancellor, and President of the General Chapter.

Worthy of mention are three of his publications. The first was a collection of sayings from Scripture and from the Fathers of the Church to prove the excellence of Psalmody. The work he composed with more love and dedication was the “Synopsis,” that is, a collection of proofs and testimonies about the heroicity and holiness of the Holy Founder. The third work was about the Spiritual Exercises, composed strictly for the confreres.

While Superior in St. Barnabas, an illness forced him to be in bed for 30 days, until on September 15, 1636, he died in the Lord.

 

 

September 18

FRANCIS CASTELLI
A student of St. Francis Xavier Bianchi
(1752-1771)

 

Francis was born in Sant’Anastasia (Naples) on March 19, 1752 from the Baron Joseph and the Countess Benedetta Allard. He was baptized by his uncle, the Reverend Charles Castelli.

The young Francis attended the local school run by the Conventual Fathers. The healthy and very religious atmosphere at home, and the Christian principles inculcated in him by his teachers, helped to shape the young Francis into a very determined and devout Christian. At the age of 15 he decided to knock at the door of the Barnabites in Naples. He had come in contact with them in the little town of Fazzara, where the Barnabites had a summer home, and where Francis used to go to visit his uncle who was the local priest.

He was accepted as a student in St. Charles alle Mortelle in Naples. One of his teachers was St. Francis Xavier M. Bianchi. He was admitted to the novitiate, and his master, Fr. Landriani called him “a little angel.” He professed his solemn vows on May 1, 1771, at the age of 19.

It was during the novitiate that he started to feel sick with what will turn out to be TB. Hoping to save him, the Fathers sent him to his hometown of Sant’Anastasia. But to no avail as he was getting worse; so, Fr. Norducci was sent over to assist him and to console him. He did not last long, but during those days of agony, he showed a great sense of peace and resignation, passing his time in prayer. On the evening of September 18, 1771, the parish priest was calling in to assist him. While praying Francis turned toward him and asked: “Father, what time is?” The priest answered, “11:00 p.m.,” “Very well,” Francis replied, “it is a good hour! One hour more and I will be in eternity!” And so one hour later, with his eyes fixed on the image of the Blessed Mother, when 19 years old, died in the Lord. At that very moment Father Francis Xavier M. Bianchi in Naples was reciting the Divine Office with one of the novices. He stopped and said: “Let us recite the De Profundis, because in this very moment our dear Francis Castelli is flying to heaven in Sant’Anastasia.”

The news of his death spread fast giving rise to a chorus of voices acclaiming him as a saint. The funeral took place on September 20th, but then the corpse was kept in the crypt of the “Congregation of the dead” to wait for the Barnabites to arrive from Naples. He was buried there for the moment, and only later his wish to be buried in the church of the Barnabites in Naples became a reality, especially due to the opposition of the people of Sant’Anastasia, who wanted the body to be buried for good in their church.

The French Revolution caused the devotion to die down, but in 1875, when his body was found, a new movement for his canonization was started. In 1880 eighty-seven bishops and other personalities petitioned Leo XIII to introduce his cause.

 

 

September 18

FATHER ALEXANDER SESSA
A venerated Master of Novices
(1852-1922)
 

Fr. Sessa was born in Trani on August 16, 1852, from Michael, a lawyer, and Fidelia Giannuzzi. He lost his father when only two years old and was raised by his uncle, Nicolò, a Canon. When 20 he entered our novitiate in St. Charles ai Catinari in Rome. He professed his vows on February 2, 1870, and remained in Rome for theology. While still a student, he was assigned to teach Grammar at “La Querce” school in Florence, where he was ordained a priest on November 13, 1876.

He had many assignments in the Roman and Neapolitan Provinces always as a teacher, and a requested preacher and confessor; and, at times he was Superior, and even Master of Novices in San Felice a Cancello. He served also as General Chancellor to Father General in Rome. In the 1907 General Chapter he was nominated Provincial Superior of the Roman Province. For the first year he stayed in Florence and then he moved to Perugia. There he wanted to open a minor seminary, but instead it was opened the following year in San Giorgio a Cremano, near Naples. At the end of his term he asked to be assigned to Monza to lead a life of recollection and prayer. To be of greater service to the souls, he even studied the Lombard dialect. But after one year his health became an obstacle so he had to move back in the South to the other novitiate in San Felice a Cancello. Here he will be vicar, superior and Master of Novices.

In 1906 Fr. Sessa was back in Rome as Chancellor of the Superior General until 1920 when he returned to San Felice. But by now his health was very weak so he prepared himself for the heavenly home.

Fr. Sessa was a man of great precision and perfection in carrying out his duties, faithful to regular observance. His humility and sense of poverty was considered to be outstanding. He loved liturgy, so he cared greatly for the sacred utensils, as well for the ceremonies. He worked on updating our book of ceremonies.

He died of a heart attack in San Giorgio a Cremano, on September 18, 1922.

 

 

September 19

VICTIMS OF THE 1630 PESTILENCE IN CHIERI

 

As in other cities, the Barnabite Community in Chieri also showed great courage and self-denial in assisting the victims of the 1630 pestilence. Of eight members, five died at the service of the sick.

First let us mention the three who survived the ordeal. The Superior was Fr. Maurizio Forni, who led the Community in self dedication to the cause.

Fr. Charles Augustine Tornielli was there for only for a short time as he was called to be pastor in St. Damazzo in Turin.

Fr Urban Peyra at first was overcome by fear, and found refuge in Montaldo, but then, overcome by guilt, went back and tried his very best to make up for it.

The five victims were two Fathers and three Brothers:

Fr. Timothy Rinaldi, from Naples, had professed his vows in Zagarolo in 1621. After his ordination in Pavia, for while he was in Montù before going to Chieri. He is remembered for his preaching. During the pestilence, the 27 year old plunged himself into the work for the sick, falling a victim himself on September 7, 1630, right after his confrere and classmate, the novice Brother John Anthony Della Chiesa.

A few days later another group followed them. Fr. William Valimberti, who was from Chieri, had entered the Congregation as a diocesan priest and a lawyer, renouncing to be the Vicar General of the Diocese of Mondovi. He had professed in Monza in 1628. He fell as a victim to the pestilence on September 22, 1630.

The last to die was Brother John Augustine Mondini, from Brescia, an inseparable companion of the Fathers in self dedication. He professed the vows in 1618, and died on September 28, 1630 at the age of 40.

 

 

September 20

BISHOP OCTAVIAN ASINARI
Bishop of Ivrea
(1594-1656)

 

Frederick Asinari was born to the family of the Marquis Mombercelli in August of 1594. On October 31, 1610 he entered the Barnabite Congregation, and the Venerable Fr. Dossena received his vows. By then he had already received a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Turin.

Since the beginning of his religious life he showed his skills as an orator. As a priest he dedicated his life to it for the glory of God. One example gives testimony to his talents: in 1617, when he was studying theology in St. Barnabas, he was chosen to give the opening talk for the opening of the school year in St. Alexander. Those present were Cardinal Altonini, the Pontifical Nuncio, the Bishop of Pavia, etc.... He preached in Naples from 1623 to 1626, and then in Turin until he became a Bishop.

In Turin he was Superior for many years and faithfully served the Royal House of Savoy in delicate missions. In 1630 Cardinal Mauritius delegated him to preside at the General Chapter of the Celestine Congregation in Sulmona, while in 1632 he was intermediary for the union of the Camaldolenses with the Congregation of the “Monte Corona.”

Cardinal Mauritius and the Savoy House asked Pope Urban VIII to elevate Fr. Asinari to the Episcopal Order. On September 22, 1634 he was consecrated Bishop of Ivrea. One of the first things he started was a canonical visitation, but he had to stop it due to his health and the continuous wars infesting the area. As a result he decided to call for a Synod, laying down clear guidelines for the clergy, encouraging catechetical programs, condemning superstitious practices, and ordered the remodeling of the seminary.

He died on September 20, 1636, at the age of 62.

 

 

September 20

BISHOP RAPHAEL RAGGI
Bishop of Aleria
(1653-1712)

 

Bishop Raggi came from a very religious family of Genoa, which gave to the Church four priests: a Barnabite, a Theatine, and two Jesuits. Raphael entered the Congregation on November 4, 1669, and professed his vows on February 8, 1671 in St. Bartolomeo degli Armeni. After his ordination in 1677, he was sent to teach first in Pavia and then in Genoa. After three years there, he was assigned to St. Charles in Rome to dedicate himself to preaching and spiritual direction. Assigned to Naples he manifested his tremendous skill and qualities as an apostle. In 1689 he was back in Genoa as Superior, where he stayed for 16 years, until he became a Bishop, explicating his ministry with great success especially as a preacher.

In 1705 he received the invitation from Clement XI to go to Rome and received his election to be Bishop in Aleria, Corsica, in memory of St. Alexander Sauli. He was consecrated on March 2, 1705.

The diocese was not in the pitiable condition St. Alexander had founded it, but it needed some renewal, and Bishop Raggi dedicated himself to it with great enthusiasm, and skill. With his sweetness and delicacy was able to resolve controversies for the peace and satisfaction of all parties involved. He served for seven years, until September 20, 1712, when the Lord called him to himself, at the young age of 58.

 

 

September 20

BISHOP JOHN MERCURINO ARBORIO GATTINARA
Bishop of Alexandria
(1685-1743)

 

Alexander Vincent Gattinara was the younger brother of the Barnabite Fr. Francis Gattinara, who, as Provincial Superior of Lombardy, in 1704, admitted him to the novitiate in Monza. He had already done his philosophical studies with the Oblates of St. Charles in Milan, so after three years of theology in Rome, John Mercurino Arborio (his religious name now) was ordained a priest in St. Carlo ai Catinari.

At first he was assigned as a teacher in Milan, but after a short period he dedicated himself totally to the preaching apostolate, and was demanded in various cities. For six years he was also Superior in Casalmonferrato, until his brother, Father Francis, was made Bishop of Turin in 1727, and requested his help, especially for the organization of all the Acts of the recent diocesan Synod. He stayed with his brother for three years. It was King Vittorio Amedeo II who requested him as a Bishop of Alexandria. He was consecrated by Benedict XIII on January 8, 1730.

His first task as a Bishop was a visitation of the whole diocese followed by the Synod of the diocese in 1732. Many were his accomplishments. In 1742 he introduced in the diocese the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with solemn festival celebrations.

Among many publications we recall the collection of homilies for the 1742 Lenten season, given in the Cathedral. He died one month before his brother Bishop Francis on September 20, 1743. He was 58 years old.

 

 

September 21

FATHER GERMAN DE-NOGUEZ
42nd Superior General
(1706-1776)

 

He was the son of Peter and Mary La Croux, born in Borderes, France. When 20, he entered our novitiate in Lescar, and professed the vows on November 16, 1727.

He experienced a series of assignments as a teacher, preacher, spiritual director, Superior in Montargis (l749-l755), Provincial Superior, General Visitor, and Superior in Paris. While in Paris, in 1767, he published the Memoirs in defense of the Religious Orders against the oppressive and restrictive measures of the French Government.

In the General Chapter of 1769, in Milan, he was elected Superior General of the Congregation. During his visit to the houses in Naples he had the opportunity to get to know St. Francis Xavier M. Bianchi. Fr. De-Noguez will be the one to give the Saint the permission to dedicate him to a life of piety and seclusion. At the same time, a few months later, he will write to the Superior of the Novitiate: “As vice-master you will have for now Fr. Bianchi; use him as you need. Tell him that the hermits leave the caverns and the stylists would come down from the columns whenever the Church needs would require it. It will be so much more praiseworthy for him, who is not a stylist, to leave for a short time the solitude to help in the novitiate.” Not too long after, out of need, he made him also Superior of St. Charles in Naples.

At he end of his term Fr. De-Noguez was not reelected because of his nationality, so he went back to Paris and was welcomed by King Louis XV. He passed his last years in active apostolate for the salvation of souls. He died at the age of 70, on September 21, 1776.

 

 

September 22

BISHOP VINCENT ROTARIO
Bishop of Asti
(1601-1665)

 

Bishop Rotario was born in Asti in 1601. At a very young age he professed his vows as a Barnabite in Monza, on May 25, 1617. At the end of his studies in St. Barnabas and in Pavia, he was ordained a priest in 1626.

His first destination was in Lescar, to teach theology, and in 1631 he was elected local Superior. As the college in Dax was opened, he moved there until 1644 when he was elected Provincial Superior of the houses in Piedmont, Savoy, and France. During his term he was very busy for the consolidation of the new houses in France and the novitiate in Boneville (Savoy). At then end of his term he went back in Italy to the community in Bologna. From 1650 to 1653 he resided in St. Alexander, Milan, as Visitor General, busy on the pulpit and in the confessional.

In 1753 Fr. Rotario became Assistant General, but only for two years, because on October 25, 1655, Alexander VII made him Bishop of Asti. His major concern was the sanctification of the clergy. In December 1660 the Synod was celebrated, after the canonical visitation of the whole diocese. For ten years he worked tirelessly for the sanctification of his flock. Death caught with him on September 22, 1665 after a short illness.

 

 September 23

FATHER NICHOLAS SPENGER
Great Apostle in St. Michael, Vienna
(1721-1790)

 

Born in Vienna on January 24, 1721, Fr. Spenger entered the Congregation when 18, and professed his vows on November 15, 1739 in Mistelbach. At the end of his studies he was ordained a priest in 1744 and his first assignment was to teach catechism to the youth in our parish of St. Michael in Vienna. His reputation as a spiritual director spread even to the Imperial Court, so that the Empress Mary Theresa chose him as her confessor. In the midst of his many commitments he cared in a special way for the preaching apostolate.  

He also became Superior of the community, Provincial Superior, and Visitor General. Fr. Spenger, besides being well known for his apostolate, excelled also in his studies, as shown by the books he published. These were the elements which caused such a variety of personalities to make recourse to him for direction, counsel, and guidance. Fr. Fontana wrote: “He was a religious gifted with great zeal, both for the salvation of souls and for regular observance, and because it is not that easy, especially with a fervent heart, to stay in the just limits, in some occasion he was accused to have gone overboard.” He was a man of great holiness, rich in virtues, and an outstanding religious.

He died at the age of 70, on September 22, 1790

 

September 24

FATHER JOHN BAPTIST SORESINA
One of the first companions of the Founder
(1512-1601)

 

Fr. Soresina was born in 1512  and it seems that he studied law since, in one of the notary documents drafted by Battista Pietrasanta on January 26, 1535, he appears as the second notary public to signed it. He was the youngest to join the first community of St. Anthony M. Zaccaria, on February 21, 1535, after receiving the religious habit from Zaccaria himself and having changed his baptismal name Melchior to John Baptist.

A special attachment was binding him to Zaccaria who had been instrumental for his vocation. He had gone to him for his general confession, and to his great surprise, he was reminded of a sin he had completely forgotten. Through Zaccaria he had overcome some childish fears, sleeping, out of obedience, all by himself in an old and abandoned house for two consecutive nights. With his help and counsel Soresina climbed to the priesthood receiving the tonsure on February 19, 1535, the four minor orders the following day, the subdeaconate on September 22, 1537, the Deaconate on December 22 of the same year, and the Priesthood on December 16, 1538.

He celebrated the First Mass on Christmas day of 1538 in the monastery of the Angelics, where Zaccaria was confessor and director, and where perhaps the Saint talked to him about his own First Mass, when the Lord gifted him with a choir of angels visible around his altar. It was Zaccaria who would direct him immediately to pastoral work, entrusting him with the catechesis of the two brothers John Baptist and Fabrizio Omodei, suggesting to pay special attention to the younger one: in fact, Fabrizio entered the Barnabites as Paul Mary and became Superior General of the Order.

Zaccaria addressed two of the letters he left to us to Soresina and a third one written from Guastalla is addressed to “Sir James Anthony (Morigia), Sir Baptist (Soresina) with all the others,” an unexplainable thing since Soresina was the last of the group; unless, he had already a semi-directive role in the community together with the Superior Morigia, as a phrase seems to imply in the letter of June 11, 1539, addressed to Morigia: “Sir Baptist, to whom I have entrusted that treasure I have in my hands.”

So Fr. Soresina was lucky to experience the spring time of the birth of the Order, sharing with the Founder the joys of the first achievements as well the pains of the first tribulations, especially when the Church suspected as heretical their most holy intentions. In this way he was getting formed for life, but he could not enjoy the care of his spiritual Father for too long as Zaccaria died only 36 years old in 1539. When he found that he was gravly sick in his mother’s house Cremona, he immediately flew to his side together with Bartolomeo Ferrari, arriving just on time to receive the last recommendations. He then accompanied the body of the Founder to Milan.

Fr. Morigia, elected Superior on April 15, 1536, was followed by Fr. Ferrari, elected on November 30, 1542. The same day, a solemn one since it was the inauguration of the new church, Soresina was appointed Vicar, the first one in Barnabite history. This was his main occupation for the rest of his very long life. Actually, Vicar, at that time (that is, until 1579, the year of our definitive Constitutions) comprised also the one of procurator, to be instituted by the 1579 Constitutions. As Vicar, Soresina was in charge of the entire temporal management of the house. This office was so time-consuming that in 1544 Soresina asked to be exonerated in order to attend more freely to his spiritual duties and needs. His request was denied; however, the community promised to attend to his spiritual needs. Maybe it was at this time that having to take care of practices and documents (so also the incipient archive), he felt the need to put on paper the names and principal events of the confreres. This was the birth of the famous “Cronachette (Brief Chronicles) A, B, and C.” Together, these most precious documents cover the origins of our Order from 1534 to 1600.

In 1568 the General Chapter entrusted Soresina with the writing of the “Rules of the Vicar.” It is also at this time - if not some years before – that he rewrote the oldest copy of the Constitutions by Zaccaria, which he copied from the original autograph with great care and respect, reproducing it faithfully in every detail. He was Vicar until February 17, 1545 when he was sent to direct the Barnabite mission in Verona and placed in charge of the hospice of Mercy and the Institute of Piety. We know nothing of this period, except that in 1548 he was in Milan for the Chapter and asked to be heard in the community meeting. In June-July 1549 he was back again to participate with all the others in a chapter of communitarian spiritual direction. We know that also later many gentlemen came in contact with him in Mantua and that the postulants would send to him the request for admission in the Congregation.

As we know, the mission in Verona, as well all the others, was closed by the Venetian Government for political reasons, banning Barnabites and Angelics from the whole territory. If Soresina had the sad experience to leave a most flourishing apostolate, he had also the courage to accept the trial with faith, seeing in it a special gift of divine Goodness and the realization of a prophecy by the Founder. He took advantage of that period of relative calm to prepare himself for the solemn profession which, according to the custom of the time, did not have a fixed dateline. He professed on the Vigil of Christmas 1554, the anniversary of his First Mass. He had prepared himself reading and meditating upon the Angelic Summa, the New Testament, and John Cassian.

During this period he had participated in the composition of the new Constitutions of 1552; he had undergone the canonical visitation by the Holy See following the expulsion from the Venetian Territories; and, no need to say, he was elected again Vicar of the house. We can say that this Office was his cross and his delight, besides a great sign of trust by the confreres. Until 1579 Soresina always held a directive position in the community. If not Vicar, he was a Discreet, or one of the four counselors of the Superior who had the responsibility to look over the regular observance. From 1542 to 1579 he was Vicar for 18 years, and Discreet nine times.

Parallel to the office of Vicar there was the office of sacristan to supervise the church and the sacristy. Soresina held this office almost continuously until his old age, so that the Acts say: “The community is very grateful to him since, in a certain sense, he has remodeled and beautified the whole church” of St. Barnabas. He must have been an expert in architecture as well because he is the first in the history of the Order to hold the office as “Prefect of the Buildings” from 1573 to 1579, an office held at the same time - but for the whole Congregation - by Fr. D’Alessano and then, when he became blind, by Fr. Lorenzo Binago.

All these material commitments should not make us believe that Soresina was so absorbed in them to forget his vocation. He was an exemplary priest, always ready for the confessional, so much so that the same St. Charles wanted him on the list of those who, without exam, as prescribed by Trent, were authorized to hear confession in the city as well as in the diocese. And when St. Charles asked the Father for a confessor for the college of girls he wanted to found in Milan, the community could recommend no one else but Fr. Soresina. Still St. Charles requested him for the Stella monastery, whose reform he concluded in only three years. The Benedictine monastery of Lambrugo was also reformed by Fr. Soresina, who used to go there regularly for the election of the Mother Abbess or to give days of recollection as testified by the many letters of thanks in the archives of St. Barnabas. The Barnabites themselves turned to Fr. Soresina, in the years 1557 and 1558, to straighten out two religious who had a lot to be desired.

With the new Constitutions of 1579 the Barnabites updated their rules and regulations to the decrees of Trent. Among the novelties there was the creation of the office of Procurator, separating his duties from the ones of the Vicar. No need to mention that Soresina kept offering his services as before as he was elected Procurator in the years 1579-1586, 1590-1592. A little funny happened in April 1584 at the renewal of the offices. Since he was over 70, the community of St. Barnabas (composed of many young members) wanted a little renewal, and so, instead of Soresina, taken for granted, they elected Fr. Paul Jerome Aretino, the youngest priest in the community; but, after eight months the young Procurator ran away and the community, gathered in chapter, had to rely again on the old and amused Soresina. Although advanced in age, the Acts present him always on the go to handle various deals.

Until 1579 Fr. Soresina had taken part in all the General Chapters for the renewal of the Superiors of the Order. They were taking place in Milan starting on the Monday after the Second Sunday after Easter, as done from the very beginnings of the Congregation and as it was prescribed by the new Constitutions. He had never missed them, except once when was in Verona. After 1579, when the new rules prescribed for the supreme convention to take place every three years, he was able to participate in 1582, in 1588, and in 1591. Therefore he saw the Congregation grow as a baby all the way to adulthood.

By now all his companions were deceased and even the ones of the second batch only a few were left. The new ones were gathered around him with great love, especially at recreation time, making him talk and talk, happy to absorb from the very original source their history. This is what our first historians, Bascapè, Tornielli and Gabuzio did.

He himself, Fr. Soresina, gathered his own notes and the ones of others, to organize them in the “Cronachetta,” called ‘C,’ which is kept in the historical archive in Rome. In his heavy senile handwriting (so different from the most beautiful one of his younger years!), he transcribed all the essential data of all those who were members of the first generation of the “Sons of Paul the Saint,” careful to avoid what, in the enthusiastic language of the origins, had made the Inquisition suspicious.

Fr. Soresina had a serene and peaceful old age, totally dedicated to the confessional and prayer. He kept following life in common, taking part in the chapters almost to the end. It was only in the last year that he was afflicted by senile sclerosis. He fell asleep in the Lord on September 24, 1601, in his 90’s, after almost seventy years of religious life.

 

 September 27

FATHER GIOVENALE SACCHI
Man of culture and a musician
(1726-1789)

 

It is not easy to define and to set the figure of Giovenale Sacchi in a specific branch of learning, because he was a versatile personality involved in all kinds of scientific and literary fields. He was a friend of the most outstanding musicians of the 1700’s, like Giovan Battista Martini and Giuseppe Tartini. But Fr. Sacchi was not a musician in the true sense of the word. He did not know how to play any instrument, nor did he know how to sing. His musical studies were strictly theoretical. He studied the different aspects of music: metric measures, rhythm, harmony, and especially acoustic. He was a “scientist” of music since he studied the art of the sounds, especially - but not exclusively - from the physicist’s point of view, as an acoustic phenomenon.

With a physique not too robust, but with a very vivid and keen intellect, Fr. Sacchi was born in Milan on November 22, 1726, from a noble and ancient family. He studied at the Barnabite school of St. Alexander, and he entered the Order when 17, in 1743. Not yet ordained a priest, he was assigned as teacher of rhetoric in Lodi. He studied ancient languages, classical subjects, and mathematics, but his favorite subject was music.

In 1761 he published “Numbers and measure of musical cords and their counterparts” as a small volume of 123 pages, divided into 15 chapters and 144 paragraphs. In the first chapter the author gives the synthesis of his work: “I have gathered some of the speculations about the right division of the monochord (a very old instrument invented by Pythagoras, used especially for experiments), and about the number of the musical cords and their analogies... I have added just about the most accurate and comfortable way of solfeggio. In this way I have put together in this little work the principles or elements of theoretic and practical acoustic.” Fr. Sacchi tackles the problem of tunes following Galilei’s laws, that is, “the cords can be tuned according to their material, size, length, and tension.”

In 1770 and 1778 he published two other works: “Division of the tempo in music, dance, and poetry,” to deal with problems of metrical nature; and “The nature and perfection of the Creeks’ ancient music,” with which he contributed to the value of Creek music and its influence on the music of the 1700’s.

He treats a more “harmonic” subject in “Delle quinte successive del contrappunto e delle regole degli accompagnamenti,” published in 1780. This is his answer to Pichl’s question (violinist and composer of the Court in Vienna): how come, in the contrappunto, the succession of two right quinte proceeding through the right way, were generating, for the acoustic sense of the time, a bothersomeacoustic effect.

Fr. Sacchi dedicated some of his studies also to sacred music. He wrote “Trattato delle condizioni de lperfetto stile della musica in generale e in parlicolare della ecclesiastica,” published in 1777. The work is divided in three parts: “The perfect Ecclesiastical music, musical imitation, right use of music according to the living spirit of religion and the aim proper of art.” Truly it is a vademecum for a composer who wants to react to the invasion of sacred music by virtuosism, the abuse of orchestration, the corruption of sacred texts and their not too cautious utilization in relation to the sacred music of the 18th century. Fr Sacchi, then, was first of all a theoretic scholar of acoustics, he was also an aesthetic, a reformer of sacred music. This is why he proposed to Cardinal Buoncompagni, Secretary of State of Pope Pius VI, the opening in Rome of a school for the reform of music. As part of this reform he had the initiative to continue the “Psalms” - a work started by Benedetto Marcello - aiming at giving a thrust to a new kind of sacred oral polyphony, inspired by the one of Pier Luigi da Palestrina.

All these scientific activities, his friends, and his teaching, did not distract Fr. Sacchi from his duties as a religious and as a priest. He dedicated himself to the care of souls and preaching. Because of his fragile physique and feeble voice he was not able to fully employ his eloquence, but he tried to make up promoting a school of preaching with well determined and outlined rules and guidelines.

Fr. Sacchi died in 1789 at the vigil of the events which revolutionized the whole of Europe. His ideals are well expressed in an inscription in his memory: “He favored the progress of the science of music with important data he discovered, and he busied himself to bring it back to its original dignity so that it would be a source of virtue more than pleasure.”

 

 

September 29

FATHER JOHN PAUL SACCO
Companion of the co-founders, Master of Novices
(1518-1583)
 

Fr. Spinola does not give us much information about Fr. Sacco, as he laments: “I often deplore, and I cannot do but regret, the great carelessness of those who could have written about the virtuous deeds of the first Religious who lived with the Blessed Founder as an example and for the edification of their successors. Instead, they showed to be very exact in reporting just the defects. But I deplore this particularly in the case of Fr. John Paul Sacco. He was received in the house when still very young, and although every little defect was severely punished, he behaved always with such prudence and composure that I have never read the Chapter to be called to correct him for any disobedience of the rule or for any defect needing to be corrected. Rather, as soon as he was ordained, we find him busy with businesses of tremendous importance, and many times as Superior of different houses...”

He was the son of Senator James Philip, president of the Senate in Milan, who defended our Founder during the persecution. Fr. Sacco joined the Barnabite Community when still very young in 1541, and it was Fr. Morigia to welcome him. That same year Fr. Besozzi too entered the Community and they became very close friends and collaborators in the apostolate. During the turmoil the Congregation had to endure, he kept himself very steadfast in his resolutions. He was Master of Novices and then Superior in Pavia and Cremona. He played a key role, together with St. Alexander Sauli and Fr. Besozzi, in the composition of the first Rules and Constitutions.

When St. Alexander Sauli was nominated Bishop of Aleria, Fr. Sacco governed the Congregation for a while as Vicar General. As attested by Fr. Omodei, Superior in St. Barnabas, Fr. Sacco was one of the first in introducing a catechetical program. Fr. Sacco gained great esteem as a visitor of monasteries, “We thank you for sending our Sir John Paul as Visitor,” the Abbess of Lamburgo wrote to the Superior General, “You must know that he has been tremendously so dear to us all, and they said that he looked like an angel of Paradise. They were listening to his words with such faith that it was a joy to look at them... He has caused a great renewal in the monastery. Indeed it seems like we have passed from Hell to Heaven, since this Blessed Father was with us.”

In 1576 he was elected Assistant General. He held the office until his death, November 29, 1583, at the age of 65.

Fr. Povera reports an interesting episode revealing Fr. Sacco’s qualities in the discernment of the spirit. When he was Master of Novices, he used to assign to the novices a spiritual essay to be presented during the meal. When it was Fr. Maine’s turn, Fr. Sacco abruptly asked him to express his opinion about himself. With all humility Fr. Maine listed all his defects, then at the end Fr. Sacco, against the rule of silence, exclaimed. “This is the real way toward perfection.” As we know Fr. Maine will become quite a holy man and Superior General of the Order.

 

 September 29

BISHOP EUGENIO CATTANEO
Bishop of Telese
(1551-1608)

 

Bishop Cattaneo was born in Novi Ligure in 1551. As a young man he pursued a law degree at the University of Pavia. It was here that he encountered our Fathers in St. Mary’s church. Following the example of his uncle Fr. Matthias Del Maine, he too asked for admission into the Congregation. He received the habit on the feast of the Annunciation, 1571, changing his name from Alexander to Eugenio.

After the novitiate he went to Cremona for his studies and then to Rome. As more professed students were sent to Rome, they constituted the first group of students of the newly established theologate in Rome. He studied theology at the Roman College where one of his teachers happened to be St. Robert Bellarmine. He was ordained a priest in 1579, and remained in Rome. 

Although so young, he was made Discreet of the community, and in 1784 Procurator. In 1785 Fr. Cattaneo joined the newly elected Bishop Speciano, in his diocese of Novara, to organize the diocese. Father stayed there for five years until Bishop Speciano was moved to Cremona. Back in Rome, Fr. Cattaneo, among other things, was entrusted with the new edition of the biography of St. Charles Borromeo written by Fr. Bascapè. In 1601 he was made Procurator General, and he had a lot of business with the Holy See for the opening of the new houses in Naples, Lodi, Perugia, and Genoa. This led to his selection to be a Bishop. Fr. Dossena fought the decision, as he had done before, but without success. Fr. Cattaneo was made Bishop of Telese in Campania. He was consecrated on February 21, 1605. He asked for, and Father General granted him to have, Br. Danile Camerino to take care of the house.

The city of Telese, at that time, had been reduced to a very small center, especially because of the unhealthy air. Indeed after one month Bro. Daniel had to leave, victim of malaria, and Bishop Cattaneo himself became a victim of the illness. Besides, he had a very numerous clergy; but, most of them were uneducated and not ready for the priestly ministry. He tried to get some aid from the Congregation but Fr. Dossena could not satisfy his request because of the many new foundations. Another tragedy was the murder of his most trusted and helpful Canon. After this tragedy, as a new house was opened in Naples, Father General asked that one of the members of the new community, Fr. Paul Petra, would help Bishop Cattaneo. Later he will help that community as the Fathers found themselves in very difficult financial conditions.  To add to his problems we have to add the opposition caused by the Duke of the city.

With a very precarious health he lasted until the fall of 1608. Fr John Thomas Ricci was sent from Naples to assist him until his death, which took place on September 29, 1608, when he was only 58.

 

 September 29

FATHER FRANCIS GAJETAN SOLA
36th Superior General
(1689-1762)
 

Fr. Sola is remembered for his publications, the zeal for regular discipline, and the zeal toward the devotion to the Holy Founder. He was born in Milan in 1689. He professed the vows as a Barnabite on August 13, 1706 in Monza. After his ordination he taught in Milan and in Bologna. In 1722 he became Superior of St. Barnabas for six years, and then for 15 years he was the Procurator, that is, until 1743, when he was elected Superior General.

He governed the Congregation for six years. In his circular letters he insists on faithfulness to the original Barnabite spirit, following the examples of the forefathers, especially the Holy Founder.

At the end of his term he went back to St. Barnabas to a humble and faithful religious life. In his last years he endured with great sacrificial spirit very atrocious pains, until he died on September 29, 1762, at the age of 73.

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