By Larry Peterson
Luigi Novarese was born on July 20, 1914, in Casale Monferrato, located in northern Italy. He was the ninth and last child born to Giust Carlo Novarese and Teresa Sassone. Luigi’s dad died before the boy’s first birthday from pneumonia. His Mom, a devout Catholic, embraced her responsibility as a Mom and did her best to keep the family afloat. She was somehow managing when, in 1923, Luigi is struck with a life-threatening disease. He is diagnosed with bone-tuberculosis. The doctors tell his Mom there is no cure, and there is no hope.
Luigi’s Mom does not believe them. She is determined to save her boy and works as much as she can and saves every penny possible to cure her dying son. She does have one weapon the doctors do not have. She turns to the Blessed Virgin and begs her to help in Luigi’s recovery. Doctor’s tell her she should resign herself to the fact that her son is terminally ill and will not live. Teresa Sassone is undeterred and keeps on praying.
Luigi, following his Mom’s example, develops a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. He writes a letter to Father Filippo Rinaldi, the head of the Salesian Order, asking him to have the students pray for him. Father Rinaldi tells Luigi that they will pray for the intercession of St. John Bosco and Our Lady Help of Christians.
On May 17, 1931, Luigi Novarese left the hospital for the last time. He is 17 years old. The illness is gone, and doctors cannot explain it. But the disease caused Luigi’s one leg to become shorter than the other. This requires him to wear a special shoe for the rest of his life. He does not mind at all.
During his many hospital stays, Luigi became impressed with the work of the doctors and decided that he would become a doctor himself, if he survived. He had a change of heart when, in 1935, at the age of 21, his Mom died. Luigi thought about how hard his Mom prayed for his recovery and realized that he could serve the Lord by offering his suffering for those who are seriously ill. He entered the seminary at Casale Monferrato, Italy. From there, he moved and completed his studies at the Capranica College in Rome. He was ordained a priest at St. John Lateran Basilica on December 17, 1938.
While a student Luigi Novarese earned degrees in Theology and Canon Law. On May 1, 1942, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, asked Luigi to join his staff at the Secretariat of State for the Vatican. Father Novarese would remain there until May 12, 1970.
On May 17, 1943, while on staff within the Secretariat of State, Father Luigi founded the Marian Priest League. In 1947 he would co-found the Volunteers for Suffering and, in 1950, the Silent Workers of the Cross. In 1952, he founded the Brothers and Sisters of the Sick.
He still had more to do, so he was able to get permission from Pope Pius XII to launch an hour broadcast on Vatican Radio dedicated to the sick. In 1962, Pope John XXIII placed Father Novarese in charge of all Italian hospitals. Then, in 1970, he was put in charge of the health sector of the Italian Episcopal Conference, where he remained until 1977. During this time, he met Pope John Paul II, and when they met, the Holy Father embraced him.
Luigi Novarese died on July 29, 1984. He was 70 years old. He was beatified on May 11, 2013 at the Basilica of San Paolo fueri le Mura (Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls) in Rome, Italy, by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone with the approval of Pope Francis. Blessed Luigi is the patron for the Apostolate of the Suffering, Silent Workers of the Cross, Maria Priest league, and Brothers and Sisters of the Sick.
Sidebar: Venerable Angiolino Bonetta, the 14-year-old cancer victim, featured in Aleteia on July 22, was visited by Blessed Luigi Novarese in 1962, as part of his ministry of the Apostolate of the Suffering.
Copyright©Larry Peterson 202