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Saint Louis Guanella

Saint Louis Guanella

Saint Louis Guanella, son of Lawrence Guanella and Mary Bianchi Guanella, was born in Fraciscio, a little town located in the Italian Alps near Switzerland on December 19, 1842. After completing his studies at the diocesan seminary of Como, he was ordained a Priest on May 26, 1886, and zealously cared for souls in his diocese for nine years.

Following his interior impulse, and urged by divine signs and the desire to help distressed and indigent brothers and sisters, he continued his mission with St. John Bosco, who welcomed him gladly.Summoned by his Bishop, Father Guanella returned to work in his diocese, confidently and patiently waiting for the time he used to call “the hour of the mercy of God,” when he could start those works of charity, for which he felt an inborn attraction and a divine vocation.

His attempts, stamped out from their very beginnings, by suspicion, lack of understanding and persecution by his fellow priests and the local government.

His Bishop eventually sent him to Pianello, a town on the shores of Lake Como, where he found a group of young women formed in piety and sacrifice by his predecessor, Fr. Carlos Coppini. In only a few years they were ready to venture toward the unlimited borders of Christian charity and on April 6, 1886, he was able to send a little boat carrying two sisters, a few orphan girls, and a few pieces of furniture across the lake to Como, where Father Guanella prepared a simple home for them. This would, years later, become the “Mother House” of the Religious Congregations he dreamed of founding, the Daughters of St. Mary Providence and the Servants of Charity.

Here God’s work took root, among trial, opposition and persecution. The houses multiplied and the two Congregations helped him to increase assistance to those he called the “favorites” of Providence: incurable, abandoned, aged, physically and mentally impaired, and orphaned and needy children in Italy and Switzerland.

Still energetic in his seventies, Father Guanella sailed to North America in 1912 to begin his work of mercy in Chicago with the Italian immigrants.

In January 1915, he hastened to help the victims of the disastrous earthquake in a central region of Italy which caused the deaths of more than thirty thousand people. Father Guanella reached the area with his priests and sisters, caring for survivors and sheltering the orphans and the elderly. This was his last labor, which weakened him physically and quickened his end. He died a martyr of charity, in Como on October 24, 1915.

After a regular canonical process, Father Louis Guanella’s heroic virtues and sanctity were recognized, and Pope Paul VI declared and venerated him BLESSED on October 25, 1964.

His canonization was announced by the Holy Father in 2010.

Timeline

1842
December 19

December 19, 1842

Louis Guanella was born in Fraciscio di Campodolcino, in the province of Como, Italy, and a few hours later, on the morning of December 20, was baptized in St. John the Baptist Parish, in Campodolcino.
1849
June 24

June 24, 1849/50

On one side of the Church of St. John the Baptist, he saw a poor old man begging who then suddenly disappeared.
1852
April 8

April 8, 1852

On this day, Holy Thursday, he recieved his First Holy Communion. Later in Gualder, he was shown by the Blessed Mother a “vision” of his future charitable works.
1854
November 4

November 4, 1854

He started his grammar and humanity studies at Gallio Academy, in Como.
1860
November 4

November 4, 1860

He entered the Seminary of St. Abbondio.
1865
March 24

1865

During his summer vacation, Louis took his first trip to Turin, where he to know Cottolengo’s Institution and met St. John Bosco.
1866
May 26

May 26, 1866

Louis was ordained a priest by Bishop Bernadine, M. Frascolla, Bishop of Foggia, who was a political exile in Como.
May 31

May 31, 1866

He celebrated his First Solemn Mass in Prosto, in the province of Sondrio, where he was appointed to serve his first year of priestly ministry.
1867
May 17

May 17, 1867

He started his ministry as an acting pastor in Savogno, a suburb of Prosto. He organized and taught as its sole licensed teacher in the town elementary school.
1872
January 6

January 6, 1872

His booklet, “Familiar Advices…,” dedicated to Bishop Carsana was published by St. John Bosco as one in a series of books called “Letture Cattoliche,” which caused a strong reaction from the local anticlericals. At this time St. John Bosco invited Father Louis to join him in Turin.