SAINT LUIGI SCROSOPPI (1804-1884), priest and founder – Patron saint of those suffering with AIDS
Today, the Church honors the life of Saint Luigi Scrosoppi, who bore witness to his great trust in Divine Providence, as his life of service to the Body of Christ was totally dependent upon the providential care which God has for His children.
Luigi was born on August 4, 1804, in the city Udine in the region of Friuli in Northern Italy. He grew up in a family atmosphere of faith and Christian charity. When he was twelve years old, he began preparing for the priesthood at the Udine diocesan seminary, and was ordained in 1827. At his side were his two brothers, Charles and John Baptist, both of them also priests.
The wretchedly poor conditions during the 1800’s in a region devastated by famine, wars and pestilence were, for Luigi, an invitation to care for those most in need. With other priests and a group of young teachers, he dedicated himself to gathering together and educating poor and abandoned girls from Udine and the surrounding countryside in the practical skills of sewing and embroidery, as well as reading, writing and arithmetic.
To them, he devoted all his material possessions, his energies and his affection. He did not spare himself, and, when the situation called for it, he would go door-to-door begging, relying on people’s help. But, most of all, he trusted in the Lord. All his efforts and his abiding faith in God were well rewarded.
Nine of these girls decided to take their vows as the first Sisters of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence, which Father Luigi founded in 1837. The Congregation grew, and eventually he opened 12 more houses for new Religious Sisters.
Furthering his priestly vocation, Father Luigi, at the age of forty-two, entered the Congregation of the Oratorian Fathers founded by Saint Philip Neri. From this more complete consecration of his own life to our Lord, he was better enabled to embrace the meekness and tenderhearted spirit which would make him even more suited to the task of founder and father of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the different regions of Italy were being united. One of the consequences of this unification, which unfortunately took place in a climate of anticlericalism, was a decree suppressing many houses and groups in which Father Luigi was engaged, along with the Congregation of the Oratorian Fathers in Udine. But such political aspects of the unification did not dampen the ministerial spirit of a man who learned to trust completely in the providential Love and Mercy of his God.
Now an old man, but with an openness of spirit, he understood that the time had come for him to hand over the reins of responsibility to the Sisters, and this he did with tranquility of mind and heart. At the same time, he maintained contact with them all through his letters in which he strengthened the ties of affection and love. And, in his paternal concern for the Congregation, he never tired of recommending a community spirit of faith and trust.
At the end of 1883, as his strength began to decline, he was forced to give up all pastoral work, and he constantly suffered from a high fever. During the night of Thursday, on April 3, 1884, Father Luigi finally went Home to meet our Lord. The whole of Udine and the people of the surrounding countryside hastened to see him one last time and to beg his intercession from Heaven.
Father Luigi Scrosoppi was canonized a saint on June 10, 2001 by Pope Saint John Paul II.
We commemorate his feastday on April 3.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com and vatican.va/news_services)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ pastor)
“Lord God, You gave Saint Luigi the Spirit of Truth and Love to shepherd Your people. May we honor him on this feast, learn from his example and be helped by his prayers.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”