Category Archives: Uncategorized

Give us Silence or Give us Death: A Priest will accept death rather than violate this vow

Priests and Confession                                                                              aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

Part 4 in the Series; Give us Silence or Give us Death;  Blessed Felipe Ciscar Puig & Blessed Andres Ivars

The Spanish Civil War, which took place from 1936 thru 1939, is often called the “dress rehearsal” for World War II. This terrible civil war saw many thousands of lives lost before it ended. Among those murdered were almost 7,000 priests and religious who fell victim to the “red terror.” Unfortunately, mentioning large numbers of victims shadows the fact the victimized are all individuals with their own personal stories.

What follows is about Blessed Felipe Ciscar Puig, a parish priest and his hearing the confession of another priest. This priest was a Franciscan, and his name was Andres Ivars. It was Father Ivars who inadvertently made Father Puig’s story possible.

 

Father Andres Ivars was born in Spain in 1885. He became a Valencian Franciscan and was ordained a priest in 1909. Possessed with above standard learning skills he was sent to the Pontifical University of Rome where he studied Church History and Diplomatics. In 1914 he was sent to the Franciscan province of Valencia where he began to do historical research at the Cardinal Cisneros College. An excellent historian, he would eventually publish several books. In 1919 he became vice-director of the school and in 1928, director.

The Spanish Civil War had just begun when, on July 20, 1936, Republican militia came to Cisneros College and set fire to it. Director  Ivars, was not there at the time. He was at the “Villa Luz” clinic where he was the chaplain. Hearing of what happened he moved in with some friends and finally decided to move in with some family members in Benissa. On his way there he was recognized and arrested.

Father Felipe Ciscar Puig was a parish priest who studied at the Seminary of Valencia and was ordained a priest in 1888. He served as a pastor in various parishes and was serving as the chaplain for the Augustinian Sisters of Denia when the Spanish Civil War began.

Father Puig began doing his best to fulfill his priestly duties as discreetly as possible. He was ministering to the sick, saying Mass in people’s homes, baptizing babies, hearing confessions, and bringing Viaticum to the dying. But an informant had told the Republican militia about his clandestine efforts. Upon hearing this, the authorities wanted desperately to find him and end his hidden ministry. They finally captured him leaving a friend’s house and took him to prison. It was the day before they arrested Father Ivars.

When Father Ivars was arrested, he immediately knew what his impending future was and asked if he could go to confession. The prison commander was happy to oblige. But he also had a “hidden agenda..” He was sure he could get Father Ivar’s confessor to reveal what had been told to him. Father Ivars was brought to Father Puig for his last confession.

After the confession was finished, the prison commander tried to get Father Puig to reveal what Father Ivars had confessed to him. An archdiocesan statement by a witness to the event said the militiamen threatened to kill him if he did not tell them what they wanted to know. The priest replied, “Do what you want, but I will not reveal the confession, I would rather die before that.”

He adamantly refused. The soldiers and the commandant then held a mock trial where he was ordered to tell them Father Ivar’s ‘secrets.’ Father Puig remained steadfast in his refusal to tell them anything. The militiamen and their commandant condemned him to death.

Fathers Felipe Císcar and Andrés Ivars were taken together by car to a location outside a nearby cemetery. They were both summarily shot to death.  Father Puig was 71 and Father Ivars was 51. The date they were martyred was September 8, 1936, the birthday of the Blessed Virgin.

They both died martyrs with Father Puig’s primary “crime” being his defense of the Seal of Confession.

Father Puig and Father Ivars were both beatified as Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Give us Silence or Give us Death: A Priest will accept death rather than violate this vow

St. John Napomucene                                                               aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part 2 in the Series; Give us Silence or Give us Death; Saint John of  Nepomuk aka John Nepomucene

John of Nepomuk (also known as John Nepomucene) was born sometime during the spring of 1345 in a place called Nepomuk in Bohemia  (Czech Republic). Not much is known about his parents or his early life, but it is known that he attended Charles University in Prague and then continued his studies at the University of Padua. John was ordained to the priesthood in 1373.

Father John continued his studies at Padua and in 1387, earned s doctorate in canon law. His credentials helped advance his career and soon after he was named Vicar-General for the Archdiocese of Prague. Unfortunately for Father John,  this was during the period of the Great Schism, and his sentiments were opposite those of the ruthless King Wenceslas IV. The King supported the Pope in Avignon. The Archbishop was loyal to the Pope in Rome.

It followed that as Vicar-General,  John followed his church and archbishop.  King Wenceslas IV and the Archbishop were in a power struggle over the creation of a new cathedral. The King wanted the Abbey turned into a cathedral and ordered that no new abbot could be appointed once the present abbot died.

Rarek the Abbot died in 1393.  However, the monks of the abbey decided to avoid the King’s order and quickly nominated a successor, named Odelenus. It was the Vicar-General, John Nepomucene,  who confirmed the new abbot, not the archbishop. King Wenceslas was furious and had Father John arrested and taken to the Prague Castle to be tortured.

The truth was King Wenceslas  had a ‘hidden agenda.’  Father John was the Queen’s confessor and her husband had become suspicious that she was unfaithful to him. He was obsessing more and more about this and decided he would get the information he wanted from John. King Wenceslas chose to torture the priest himself. He was determined to ‘do it effectively.”

Wenceslas tortured Father John with fire. He burned his sides and committed awful acts against the man, demanding he tell him what his wife had confessed to him. The King’s cruelty was to no avail because even though John was forced to endure incredible pain, he held fast to his resolve and never said anything.

King Wenceslas finally gave up and had John sign an oath of secrecy about his treatment. Then the priest was released. But he was already dying from the brutal treatment he had received, and the King did not want anyone to see the condition he was in. After all, he was the Vicar-General and second in rank to the Archbishop. The King reneged on the oath of secrecy and had John arrested again. This time they gagged him, tied him, and brought him to the Charles Bridge that crosses the Vltava River. In the darkness of the night, they tossed him from the bridge and into the water below, where he drowned. The date was March 20, 1393.

John’s body was recovered from the Vtala River and buried in St. Vitus Cathedral. The Archbishop of Prague, Jan of Jenstejn, hurried to Rome traveling with the new abbey of Kladruby. He began referring to John Napomucene as “the holy martyr.” Several years later, miracles began being reported that were attributed to him. It is also said that five stars appeared where John’s body entered the water. To this day, a cross marks the spot where John was thrown to his death, and statues and pictures of John usually display five stars surrounding his head.

There was controversy surrounding the reasons for John’s execution. Some had said that it was strictly because of his going against the King’s wishes by anointing the new abbot. Others said it was because of being the Queen’s confessor and not revealing what she confessed to him. Much research was done, and many writings read and analyzed. The church decided that he was killed because of refusing to break the Sacred Seal of the Confessional.  CCC 2490

John Napomucene was canonized a saint by on March 19, 1729, by Pope Benedict XIII. He is the Proto-Martyr of the Seal of the Confessional and the Patron Saint of the Seal of Confession. Some consider him the patron of confessors, but that title belongs primarily to St. Alphonsus Liguori.

St. John Napomucene, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

“Give us Silence or Give us Death”—This is the message to the world from the Catholic Church regarding the Sacramental Seal of Confession and the Priesthood.

Mateo Correa Magallanes wikipedia.jpg

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.  The highlighted links will give you the full documents.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

 

THE STORY OF SAINT MATEO CORREA MAGALLANES

Correa Magallanes was born in Tepechitian, Mexico on July 23, 1866. His family was poor, and his initial elementary education was not of high quality. He possessed excellent academic skills, and benefactors stepped in and assisted the boy in getting into a much better school in Guadalajara. He finished his elementary schooling in 1879. In January of 1881, he was able to enter the conciliar seminary that was located in Zacatecas.

He was ordained a priest at the seminary in Zacatecas on August 20, 1893. Father Magallanes quickly became well-known in the area he served. His enthusiasm for his priestly work and his dedication made him stand out.

He was an excellent homilist and managed to inspire many people to return to confession. His zeal and love for the faith inspired many of the youth to become part of the Catholic Association of Mexican Youth in the area. Father, joined the Knights of Columbus, becoming a member of Council #2140 in Zacatecas.

After several years, Father’s talents were not to be localized. He initially assumed he would be assigned to a specific parish and stay there. But that did not happen. Instead, his priestly ministry began requiring him to serve in many different positions in various places. He was chaplain at San Miguel in Valparaiso, then he was appointed the assistant vicar in the same place. He became the chaplain of Mazapil in Zacatecas, a parish priest in Concepcion del Oro, Colotlan, Jalisco, Noria de Los Angeles, Guadalupe, and others. In 1923 he was assigned as vice-rector of the conciliar seminary from where he was ordained 30 years earlier.

In 1924 Plutarco Calles became President of Mexico. He hated Catholics and using the power of the revised constitution, which basically shut down all things Catholic,  he set out to fully implement these “laws.” His actions would result in what is known as the Cristero War, and many thousands would lose their lives. Calles main focus was on the priesthood and religious throughout Mexico.

Under Calles, the persecution, imprisonment, and executions of priests, religious, and  Catholics in general escalated quickly.  Father Magallanes, like many other priests, tried to do his ministerial work in secret. He would say Mass in people’s homes, in their barns, in fields, or wherever he could without being detected. He would visit the sick and administer Last Rites and hear confessions as much as possible. However, he could not hide forever.

It was the beginning of February of 1927 when Father Magallanes was caught by the soldiers. He was on his way to bring Viaticum to a dying woman. When he saw the soldiers coming, he quickly consumed the consecrated Host to avoid it being desecrated. Father was arrested and taken to a nearby jail.

There were other prisoners in the jail and after a few days the commanding officer, general Eulogio Ortiz, gave Father Magallanes permission to hear their confessions. Father gladly did his priestly duty, knowing most of these prisoners would be dying very soon.

As soon as he had heard the confessions, General Ortiz brought him into a room and demanded that he tell him what the prisoners had told him in confession. Father refused. General Ortiz told the priest they would “make him tell.” Father told him, “You may try do so, but you ignore the fact, General, that a priest must keep the secret of confession. I am ready to die.”

Father Correa Magallanes underwent several days of torture but would not relent. At dawn on  February 6, 1927, Father was taken to a nearby cemetery. General Ortiz pointed a gun at his head and told him he had one more chance to save his life. Father Magallanes looked at him and the other soldiers holding their rifles pointed at him. His answer was quite simple, “Viva Cristo Rey.” (Long Live Christ the King)

The priest died as a volley of bullets tore through his body. Once again, the Sacred Seal of Confession was not broken.

Father Magallanes was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II on May 21, 2000 along with 25 other martyrs, mostly priests, from the Cristero War.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Give us Silence or Give us Death: A Priest will accept death rather than violate this vow

Pedro Marielux                                                                             aleteia.org

By Larry Peterson

On July 1, 2019, The Vatican issued the Note of the Apostolic Penitentiary about the inviolability of the Sacramental Seal aka the Seal of Confession.

A Sacrament is of God—not man. “the sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.”  CCC 2490

Part 3 in the Series; Give us Silence or Give us Death;  Meet Father Peter Marielux

*Information about dialogue that took place between Father Marielux and the Commandant was found in a copy of the December 17, 1925, edition of the Freeman’s Journal; a publication in Sydney, Australia. Anything taken from there will be italicized.

His name was Pedro Marieluz Garces, but we can call him Peter Marielux. He was born in 1780 in Tama, Peru. From an early age, Peter knew in his heart he was called to be a priest, and he followed that calling without ever looking back. He joined the Camillian Order and was ordained to the priesthood in 1805. Eventually he would be appointed a chaplain for the Spanish military which managed Peru for the Spanish government.

The Peruvian War of Independence had started in 1811. The end of this war was in sight as the rebels had laid siege to the Port of Callao. The siege had begun in 1824, and nine months later the rebels had fortified their positions, and the Spanish army was in desperate need of supplies and ammunition. It was now 1825, and things were coming ta head.

The Spanish soldiers had been held in the fort without supplies or reinforcements able to get in. The garrison was under the command of Don Raymond Rodil. With food being almost gone and rationing down to crumbs, many of the soldiers began grumbling.

The chaplain to the troops was Father Peter Marielux. Father Peter had been doing his best to keep the spirit of the soldier upbeat, but it was getting to be a difficult task. Lack of food and necessities plus increasing illness was wearing them down.

Despair was beginning to spread, and then Don Rodil was told of a plot to take him prisoner and surrender to the rebels. Included in the group were some of his most trusted officers. Hearing this he became enraged even though he was not even sure if the rumors were true. He wasted not a moment and had those he suspected arrested.

None of them would confess to anything. It did not matter to Don Rodil. It was around 6 P.M. The “merciful” commandant gave the accused three hours to confess to the chaplain.   They would all be executed at 9 P. M. The number of men executed is unknown but suffice it to say, they all died at 9 P.M.

But the commandant was not finished. He knew the confessor, Father Peter, would know the dead men’s secrets. Even though they were now dead, it did not matter. He called the chaplain into his office.

Rodil: “Father, these scoundrels just executed have, no doubt, revealed in Confession all their plans and all the details on which they had placed their hopes. You must now disclose everything to me, and in the King’s name, I command you do so without concealing a name or a detail.”

 Father M: “General,” answered Father Marielux, “you ask an impossible thing from me. I shall NEVER sacrifice the salvation of my soul by revealing the secret of a penitent. If the King were here in person, God defend me from obeying a similar order.”

 The Brigadiers face crimsoned, and, taking the priest by the arm, he shook him violently, shouting in a commanding tone as he did so: “You must disclose everything to me or I will shoot you.”

 Father M: “If God desires my martyrdom, may His Will be done. A minister of the altar can reveal nothing of what is confided to him in the confessional.”

 Rodil: “Do not speak to me in this way—“You are a traitor to your King, your flag, your country, and your superior officer.”

 Don Rodil then gave the order to the captain of the guards to get four soldiers with loaded guns. When they arrived, he told the priest to kneel down, then in an imperious tone, turning toward the holy victim, he said: “For the last time, in the King’s name, I command you to reveal all you know to me.”

 Father M: “In God’s name, I refuse to speak,” answered the priest, in a weak but determined voice.

 Rodil:  “Madman!”

 The command was given and the shots fired. Father Marielux, the illustrious martyr of the Sacramental Seal, fell mortally wounded, his chest pierced with bullets. This occurrence took place on the 22nd of September, 1825.

Father Peter Marieloux  (Pedro Marieluz)  willingly accepted martyrdom rather than violate the Sacred Seal of Confession.

 copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This Aborigine child’s legacy lives on in the 21st Century-Meet Francis Xavier Conaci

Diremera and Francis Xavier Conaci       19th Century Australia Aborigines

By Larry Peterson

Kate Galvin is a nursing student from Australia who is a descendant of the Aborigines, the indigenous people native to her homeland.  Her roots are ingrained in what is known as Australia’s  Stolen Generations.

In July of 2018, she was awarded the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship. Sponsored by the Australian Catholic University and the Australian government, she flew to Rome where she received her award and is finishing up her final year of study at the Rome Campus. She expects to earn her degree in nursing and midwifery sometime in 2019.

So who was Francis Xavier Conaci and why is a scholarship named after him?

On March 1, 1846, two Spanish Benedictines, Rosendo Salvado, and Joseph Serra, founded a mission on the southwest coast of Australia. It was named New Norcia, (after the Italian town of Norcia) which is the birthplace of St. Benedict. Within one year of their arrival, the cornerstone for their future monastery was set in place.

Friar Rosendo had devoted almost 20 years to spreading the gospel and teaching about Jesus to the Aborigines. Indigenous to Australia and Tasmania, these people were not even considered fully human.  Incredibly, Friar Rosendo had made remarkable progress in bringing the Catholic faith to these folks. He lived with them, camped with them, learned several of the primary languages (there were many), wrote dictionaries for them, and even acted as a lobbyist for them with the colonial authorities.

Rosendo Salvado realized the intelligence of these people and became aware of their potential. He decided to select a few of the children who seemed to shine above the rest and take them to Rome.  He hoped to train these youngsters as European religious so they could go back home and spread the faith among their own people.

Friar Salvado chose two boys: one was Francis Xavier Conaci*, age seven, and the other was John Baptist Diremera*, age eleven.  They left Perth on January 8, 1849. The youngsters were very excited about the journey and were bubbling over with enthusiasm. So was Friar Rosendo.  (They were not the first to travel to Rome. A year earlier the first boy baptized in New Norcia,  Benedict Upumera*, was taken on the journey but sadly, he died on the way. Benedict was only seven years old).

The journey was long and hard. The big sailing ship had to travel from Australia to Madagascar, round the Cape of Good Hope and then north to Europe.  It was several months before they arrived in Rome. But first, Friar Salvado,  was invited to speak before the Royal Geographical Society in London. The Society believed the Aborigines were sub-human and he was able to convince them that they were just as human and of the same intelligence as all of them. Having the two boys with him were his living, breathing, walking, talking, proof.

It was on to Rome, and they had an audience with Pope Pius IX. The Holy Father presented the boys with their black, woolen Benedictine robes. The pope, laying hands on Francis Xavier, said, ”Australia needs a second Francis Xavier; may the Lord bless this boy, and make him into one!”

The boys also met the Kings and Queens of Sicily and Naples and were filled with awe at the royal guards and all the pomp an beauty of the palaces. Then it was off to the monastery in the Campania region of Italy to begin their education. Amazingly, both of them were quick to understand Latin. Little Conaci was not only impressive with his learning he also exhibited a great love for Jesus and prayed often. The friars began predicting he might become the first Aborigine bishop in Australia. But, that would never happen.

In early 1853 the abbot at the monastery advised the Vatican that two boys seemed ill and he could not understand why. Doctors, including the Holy Father’s personal physician, decided that the two young boys who were just homesick. Their advice was to send them home to Australia. It was too late for Francis Xavier. On October 10, 1853, at the age of eleven, he died. He is now buried at the Major Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.

John Baptist arrived back in Australia in May of 1855. The youngster, all of fifteen years old, died three months later. Church historian, Father Brendan Hayes of Melbourne says, “They pined away.”

The scholarship, established in 2016,  is named after Francis Xavier Conaci to extend the boy’s legacy from the beginning in 1849 and carry it to the present day. His youth, his love of Jesus, and the fact that he passed on while at the Benedictine monastery all reach across the decades to embrace the Australian Catholic Church and tie all Catholics “down under” together.

*The boy’s names; Francis Xavier, John Baptist, and Benedict are their baptism names given by the Benedictines. The last names are their Aboriginal or tribal names.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

A deadly blood disorder took his life at age 21, but it could not prevent him from reaching the road to sainthood–Meet Venerable Filippo Lo Verde

Venerable Filippo Lo Verde                                    fair use

By Larry Peterson

Filippo (Philip) Lo Verde was born in Palermo on December 10, 1910, and baptized on NewYear’s Day, 1911. By the time he was six years old,  he had already developed a deep love for the Child Jesus and was spending more and more time in prayer at home or in the nearby chapel. His influential family home life, which included daily prayer and the family Rosary, played a big part in his faith development.

By the time Philip turned twelve, he was sure he had received a vocation to the priesthood. His parents were not quite as confident as their son was. They knew a  Third Order Franciscan by the name of Antonina Spatola. He lived near the monastery, and they took Philip to see him. When Antonina learned that Philip wanted to be a  priest, he took him to Father Girolamo Giardina, the superior of the monastery (Father was destined to be Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor in Sicily). He gave Philip the biography of St. Francis of Assisi and asked him to read it.

The next day Philip brought the book with him to the chapel. He began to read, and when he was halfway through the book, a family member waiting for him heard him exclaim, “Enough! The Lord wants me to be a Franciscan.”

His father conceded to his son and gave him his approval. He was only twelve years old, and it must have been a hard thing for him to do. Philip’s mom was not so easy to convince. She wanted him to wait and enter a diocesan seminary when he was older. She loved him dearly and did not want to see him go behind the walls of a religious monastery. On August 30, 1922, he wrote her a letter and put it under her dinner plate. It was her birthday.

When they sat down to eat, she asked Philip to please read it to her. In the letter, he asked for her permission  and finished by writing (taken from his journal) “—“You must not let yourself be overcome by the devil because the devil does not want you to give me to Jesus, he has all these thoughts put in our heads, but we must not let the devil win. We must make the Lord win”.  When he finished reading, she told him, “Yes.”

Philip finished his initial training on January 21, 1923, and received the Franciscan habit assuming the name of Fra Luigi. He was still almost a year away from his thirteenth birthday. He remained at the Franciscan seminary of Motevago completing his middle school and high school classes while there.

It was during the spring of 1926 when Philip suffered from the first symptoms of the serious illness known as Oligoemia. The initial symptoms stopped him from studying. He was exhausted and could not focus. The disease was depleting his blood supply, and its effects were obvious. The teenager was fighting back amid great frustration.

The illness would seemingly go into remission, allowing him periods to get back to his studies. He did return to school in December of 1926 and managed to make his temporary religious vows on December 8, 1927. He was almost seventeen at the time.

In November of 1928, Philip moved to the Seraphic College of the Sacred Heart in Palermo. His illness returned with a fury. But even though he was fighting fatigue and exhaustion and had terrible headaches, he managed to complete his philosophy course.

He was required to undergo various therapeutic attempts to no avail. During this time there were two uplifting and happy days for the young man; on February 28, 1931, he received his clerical tonsure, and on May 30, 1931, he received the first of two minor orders.

Philip  Lo Verde went back home to visit his parents in October of 1931. His illness rapidly progressed, and he could barely get out of his bed. He knew the end was near and turned it all over to God. He received Holy Viaticum and Anointing of the Sick and was quoted as saying, “How sweet is the passage to Heaven!”

He died in his home on February 12, 1932, at the age of 21. It was reported he was smiling.

On June 14, 2016, Pope Francis declared him worthy of the title Venerable Luigi Filippo Lo Verde.

We ask him to pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

This 21 year old never stopped smiling as cancer destroyed his body…meet Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio—

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio                                                         facebook-fair use

By Larry Peterson

Nicola D’Onofrio was born in Villamagna, Italy, on March 24,1943. His father, Giovanni, and his mom, Virginia, had their son baptized three days later in the parish church of St. Mary’s. Nicola’s dad was a successful farmer, but more importantly, he was a man of integrity, honesty, and wisdom, virtues fueled by a deep and abiding Catholic faith. His mom was known for her piety and kindness. Their character traits would be passed on to their son.

As Nicola began to grow the distinct qualities of kindness and peacefulness seemed to be part of whom he was. He made his First Holy Communion on the feast of Corpus Christi in June of 1950.  Three years later, in October of 1953, he received his Confirmation. His teachers and even his classmates invariably spoke or wrote of Nicola’s hard work ethic, his kindness, and his availability to anyone who needed help. No matter the season, he never missed serving at Mass in the morning even though it was a   two-mile walk to the church.

When Nicola was about 10 years old, a priest who belonged to the Order of St. Camillus aka Camillian invited him to consider entering the Camillian Studentate in Rome. Nicola immediately accepted the offer, but his parents felt he was not ready.  His father wanted him to stay at home and take over the family farm, when he grew up. His two unmarried aunts tried to convince him that he was their only heir. However, Nicola, even at his young age, wanted desperately to become a priest.

During the following year, Nicola prayed and studied hard, and by the end of the year, his family gave him permission to enter the Camillian school. The school was for pre-teens to see if they truly displayed signs of having a real vocation. The date he entered the school was October 3, 1955. He was twelve years old, and it was the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Little Flower would later become his spiritual guide.,

During the next six years, Nicola’s character continually manifested a person who was humble, friendly, helpful, and above all, always smiling. He was constantly ready to help others, render words of comfort or understanding, and simply be there when and if needed.

Interestingly, Nicola learned after several years at school that his father had wanted to bring him back home. Nicola wrote him saying he was determined to become a priest in the Camillian Order no matter the cost. His dad humbly relented.

Nicola worked hard and applied himself to his studies, gaining the respect and admiration of his teachers. He wanted to be a worthy priest, and his work ethic evidenced that. On October 7, 1961, and after a period of intense training, Nicola took the vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience, and Charity towards the sick, especially those with contagious diseases. These vows were binding for three years. At the end of that period, he would take his final vows as a professed Castillian religious.

It was toward the end of 1962 that first symptoms of cancer that would kill him reared its ugly head. He did not understand the pain he was having, nor why he felt weak. Testing ensued, and following the advice of his superiors and the doctors, he was operated on at the urology department at St. Camillo Hospital in Rome.  The diagnosis came back as positive for Tera-tosarcoma, better known as genital cancer, and it had already begun to metastasize. The date was July 30, 1963.

The pain and suffering increased dramatically over the next year. Weakend and in constant pain young Nicola never stopped praying  and smiling. His Rosary was his constant companion. He  had one desire; he wanted desperately to be able to take his final vows.

A request was sent to Pope Paul VI, and he granted Nicola a special dispensation allowing him to receive these vows. On May 28, 1964, Nicola D’Onofrio consecrated himself to God for life. It was his final act of love. On June 5, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Nicola, fully conscious and completely aware that he was dying, smilingly received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

Nicola passed away on June 12, 1964. He was twenty-one years old, and he was surrounded by his family and Camillian brothers. A close family friend who had assisted Nicola throughout his illness remembered his last moments and said, “He seemed to me like Jesus Christ on the Cross, so calm and confident, with prayers on his lips, calling Our Lady ‘Mom.’

Pope Francis declared Nicola D’Onofrio a man of ‘heroic virtue’ and worhty of the title, Venerable,on July 5, 2013.

Venerable Nicola D’Onofrio, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019