Tuesday, February 4, 2014


 In this new year I will again try to work in some themes for our saints. For the monastery's saints for the New Year, I threw in some Jesuits of the 20th century (in honor of our new Jesuit Pope). I will present some of these amazing men later, but would like to start the year with some married couples being presented to the Church for their sanctity and as models for our modern age exemplifying holiness in the family..

Christianity has a long tradition of calling the family the domestic church. It is in the family where children first learn to worship God, to love and forgive, and to work together. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit, the family forms a community of grace and prayer.

Our first couple  is Blessed Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and his wife Blessed Maria Corsini.

Luigi was born in 1880 in Catania and grew up in Urbino. Luigi's uncle, Luigi Quattrocchi, who was childless, asked Luigi Beltrame's parents if he and his wife could raise the young Luigi in their home. Though Luigi kept his ties with his parents and siblings, he lived with his aunt and uncle, from whom he acquired his second surname. After his basic preparatory education, he obtained a degree in Law which enabled him to enter the legal service of the Inland Revenue Department. He went on to hold a number of posts on the boards of a variety of banks and national reconstruction authorities like IRI and the Bank of Italy, retiring as an honorary deputy attorney general of the Italian State. He was a friend of many political figures, such as Fr Luigi Sturzo, Alcide de Gasperi and Luigi Gedda, who worked for Italy's rebirth after the Fascist period and World War II.

His meeting with Maria Corsini in her family home in Florence was to shape his future. They were married on 25 November 1905 in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome.

Before marriage, Luigi, though he was exceptionally virtuous, honest and unselfish, did not have a strong faith. Maria, who took her maternal and household duties seriously,  found time to pray and write, besides keeping up her demanding apostolic activities. She was a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross during the war in Ethiopia and the Second World War, catechist, and together with Luigi and her children, started a scout group for youth from the poor parts of Rome. They were also involved in several forms of marriage and family apostolate.

The couple had four children. One year after their wedding, Luigi and Maria had their first son, Filippo. Then, Stefania and Cesare were born. Filippo (today Don. Tarcisio) is a diocesan priest. Cesare (Fr Paolino) left home in 1924 to become a Trappist monk. Stephania, in 1927, entered the Benedictine cloister in Milan and took the name Cecilia.

At the end of 1913, Maria was again expecting a child, her last, Enrichetta. Because of her difficult pregnancy, the best gynecologists advised her to have an abortion in order to "try to save at least the mother". The possibility of survival then with that diagnosis, was barely five per cent. Luigi and Maria refused to do it, putting their trust in the Lord's Providence. Maria's pregnancy was one of suffering and anguish. God responded beyond all human hope and thus Enrichetta was born with both she and her mother safe. This experience of faith clearly shows how the relationship between husband and wife grew, certainly helped by attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion. Enrichetta, dedicated herself first to caring for her parents, then for her brother, a diocesan priest of Rome; she is now in her 80s

Family life was never dull. There was always time for sports, holidays by the sea and in the mountains. Their house was always open to their many friends and those who knocked at their door asking for food. During the Second World War their apartment in Via Depretis, near St Mary Major, was a shelter for refugees. Every evening they prayed the Rosary together and the family was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They also kept the family holy hour on the eve of the first Friday of the month, and participated in the night vigil prayer, weekend retreats organized by the Benedictine Monastery of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, as well as graduate religious courses at the Pontifical Gregorian University, etc.

The Beltrame children recall that their parents led a simple life, like that of many married couples, but always characterized by a sense of the Divine. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that they "made a true domestic church of their family, which was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity with the poor, and to friendship".

In the midst of all of her busy daily activities, the flourishing of the first three children's vocations took place, whose developments were followed with love and firmness for a greater generosity and faithfulness to the call of God. In addition, Maria was willing to offer her fourth child, Enrichetta, to the Lord, if this were asked of her. Then Maria together with her husband, Luigi, undertook a program for their total response to any call from God, which in the end was the "difficult vow of the most perfect", offered to the Lord in humble obedience to their spiritual father. As is well-known, this vow means the renouncing of marital relations, which the two decided together after 20 years of marriage, when Luigi was 46 years old and Maria 41.

Luigi died in 1951 at the age of 71. Maria, who dedicated herself to her family and to several charitable and social Catholic movements, died in 1965 at the age of 81. They were a couple who knew how to love and respect each other in the ups and downs of married and family life. They found in the love of God the strength to begin again. They never lost heart despite the trials of family life, the tragedies of the war with two sons as chaplains in the army, the German occupation of Rome, and they lived to see the reconstruction of Italy after the war as they moved forward with the grace of God on the way of heroic sanctity in ordinary life.

The cause for Beatification for Maria and Luigi was opened on 25 November 1994 and, on 21 October 2001, the Holy Father John Paul II raised the married couple to the honor of the altars. On 28 October 2001, the relics of Luigi and Maria were transferred to their crypt in the Shrine of Divino Amore (Divine Love) at Rome. In our age when almost half of the marriages end in divorce, this couple could give young people hope and encouragement and the necessity of faith in God.

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