Tag Archives: Holy Viaticum

He died at the age of 40, yet he is known as the “Father of the Poor” and founded an Order of Nuns. Meet Blessed Paul Joseph Nardini

Bl. Pauil Joseph Nardini        en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Germersheim is a small town that is next to the Rhine River in Bavaria. On July 25, 1821, an unwed woman by the name of Margareta Lichtenberger gave birth to a baby boy and named him Paul Joseph Lichtenberger. The boy’s father remained unknown. Margareta tried her best, but being a single parent, the odds were stacked against her. She ultimately turned baby Paul over to her Aunt Maria Barbara.

Margareta was blessed.  Her Aunt Maria Barbara was married to an Italian man by the name of Anton Nardini. Anton embraced the child as his own. He and Marie adopted Paul and raised him as they if he was their natural-born child. Paul’s formative years were filled with a loving homelife where religion and family meant everything. The boy was also receiving the best education possible. Incredibly, the Nardini’s never let Paul lose contact with his birth mom, Margareta.

By the time Paul finished grammar school, he had no doubt that he was called to the priesthood. Several of his teachers recommended Paul to Bishop Johannes von Geissel as a young man who might become a good priest.  Bishop von Giessel had the young man admitted to the seminary in Speyer, where he studied philosophy. From there, Paul moved on to the University of Munich. While at the university he obtained a Degree in Theology; Summa cum Laude.

On August 22, 1848, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Speyer. His “higher-ups” wanted him to teach at the university, but Father Paul wanted to do parish work. They acceded to his wishes and his first few years as a priest were spent as a chaplain in Frankenthal, an administrator of a parish in Trebur, and then as a prefect of a diocesan boarding school.

But in 1851 Father Paul Joseph Nardini was appointed as a parish priest at one of the poorest parishes in France, St. Joseph Parish at Pirmasens, a parish with many poor, neglected adults and children.  Unknown to anyone at the time, including Father Paul, this would be the parish where he would spend the rest of his life. His adopted parents had taught him well. Upon taking up residence at the parish one of the first things he did was to have his birth mother, Margareta Lichtenberger, take up residence with him.

Father Paul immediately demonstrated the qualities that so many had seen in him as a boy. He loved his Catholic faith deeply and the example he set for those around him was inspiring. He showed an uncommon human and moral piety, a devout reverence toward the Mass and the Sacraments, and was always denying himself for the poor around him and using actions more than words to evangelize the many protestants that lived within his area. It was not long before the people in his parish and in the surrounding area were calling him the “Father of the Poor.”

The need for help was overwhelming so  Father Paul he reached out to the Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer of Niederborn. He asked if they could help him, especially in educating the poor kids of the parish. He also asked for their help in caring for the sick and for those who were poverty-stricken and also spiritually lost. Three Sisters were assigned to help but the work was too great for such a small number and after two years they were recalled.

Father Nardini never lost hope. He reached out to four young ladies of the Third Order of St. Francis. These four women would become the first members of the order known today as the Poor Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family.  The date was March 2, 1855. Father personally supervised the care and formation of the Sisters, secured their food and lodging, and even gave up his evening meals to make sure they had what they needed. The bishop approved the order on March 10, 1857.

As the number of women joining the order increased Father Paul’s home visits to the sick and dying increased dramatically. Holy Viaticum was his highest priority on his agenda. It was a freezing cold night when the selfless priest brought Viaticum to a person dying of pulmonary typhus. Father caught the illness. He died from its effects on January 27, 1862. He was 40 years old.

At the time of Father Paul’s death, the order was only seven years old but already had over 220 ladies working in 35 locations. They were all heartbroken over the loss of their founder whose remains are today venerated in the Chapel at Pirmasens.

Father Paul Joseph Nardini was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on June 26, 2006. His feast day is on January 27. We ask Blessed Paul Joseph Nardini to pray for us.

 

 

 

 

 

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