While not considered an American saint, he did work in our country and has relatives here, generations later, including a young priest in Wisconsin.
ST. LUIGI GUANELLA was the ninth of thirteen children born to Lawrence and Maria Guanella, a poor but pious family in the Italian Alps. He grew up experiencing both poverty and illiteracy, which had a profound impact on his life. Luigi lived during a time of intense political persecution against the Catholic Church, and its priests and religious were constantly harassed and threatened by civil authorities
Luigi entered the seminary at age twelve, and was ordained on 26 May 1866. After seven years, he joined the Salesians, working with St John Bosco from 1875 to 1878 to care for homeless children. He was a youth director in Turin, and parish priest in Traona, where he opened a school for the poor, which local anti–Catholic Masons forced its closure in 1881.
In 1881 he founded an orphanage and nursing home. In 1886 the need had outgrown the facility, so Father Luigi moved the home to a larger building which he called the Little House of Divine Providence. There he founded the Daughters of Saint Mary of
minister to the residents. The congregation received papal approval
and today has over 1,200 sisters working
in over 100 homes. In 1908 Luigi
founded a men’s congregation, the Servants of Charity (Guanellians)
which received papal approval
in 1928 and 1935,
and today has over 500 brothers in over 50 houses. Providence
Father Luigi never bothered to retire, continuing to write meditations and inspirational works, and minister to those in need. He was a friend and adviser to Bl. Andrea Carlo Ferrari and Pope Saint Pius X. He reclaimed marsh land in the Sondrio region, and built an institute for the handicapped.
In December 1912, Father Luigi traveled to the major cities of
and saw for himself the deplorable
conditions emigrants from
and the rest of the world were living in. In May 1913, six Daughters of St.
Mary of Italy Providence traveled to Chicago,
Ill., thus beginning the presence of the
Guanellians in . America
In 1913 he founded the Confraternity of Saint Joseph whose mission is to pray for the dying, and which today has 10 million members. In 1915, just months before his death, Father Luigi went into the fields to minister to those who had been harmed by a series of earthquakes in the region.
|With Bl. Clara Bosatta|
He died in Como, Italy of complications from a stroke he suffered on September 27, 1915 and died October 24. His final resting place is in the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in
He was canonized on 23 October 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.