A "Priest of Divine Mercy" Beatified

Father Luigi Boccardo (1861-1936)

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TURIN, Italy, APRIL 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Father Luigi Boccardo, known as an apostle of merciful love, was proclaimed blessed in his native city of Turin.



Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes, presided over the beatification Mass, held Sunday in the Church of the Holy Face. Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, concelebrated.

Luigi Boccardo was born Aug. 9, 1861, the seventh of nine children.

He was ordained a priest in 1884, and served as assistant pastor to his brother and godfather, Father Giovanni Maria Boccardo, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

Father Luigi then served as vice rector and spiritual director at the Consolata College for young priests, and as a theology professor at the diocesan seminary.

The priest also spent hours hearing confessions at the Shrine of the Consolata and visiting prisoners.

Father Luigi became the superior general of the Poor Sisters of San Gaetano, founded by his brother, after Father Giovanni Maria died in 1913.

In 1919, Father Luigi became director of an institute for the blind. In that time he built the Shrine to Jesus Christ, King and Priest.

In 1932, he founded the Order of Sisters of Christ the King, a contemplative branch of the order founded by his brother.

He died June 9, 1936.

A priest

Mother Teresa Ponsi, superior general of the Poor Sisters of San Gaetano, spoke of the newly beatified to Vatican Radio: "His charism as educator and founder was to reveal the merciful love of Jesus, priest and king, to his brothers, especially in the education of the clergy ... and in the spiritual direction of so many that approached him in the confessional."

Father Luigi "could be defined as 'a priest, always a priest,'" the superior general added. "For him, to be a priest was the most marvelous adventure."

Mother Ponsi added that the priest and founder was a "teacher and guide for the young clergy, confessor and spiritual guide for all types of people."

She added that he was a "priest of divine mercy," and that he "disseminated this in great abundance."

Mother Ponsi continued: "A contemplative and an apostle, he had an knowledge of delicate charity in understanding that even blind people can live a religious life, because before God no impediments exist with respect to who, by his grace, is called to consecrate their life to him."

"Because of all this, Blessed Luigi Boccardo is an example and a motivation in the coherent search for holiness," and a "witness of charity," she added.

Cardinal Poletto wrote in the diocesan paper: "The event of two brothers, priests in our diocese, being declared blessed by the Church, is an extraordinary grace."