Blessed Luigi Monti: Apostle to the Sick and Orphaned

Founder of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Among the Church's newest beatified is Luigi Maria Monti, an 19th-century apostle to the sick and poor.



In the homily at the beatification on Sunday, John Paul II summarized Monti's life by highlighting his commitment to "heal the wounds of the bodies and souls of the sick and of orphans."

"He liked to call them the 'little poor of Christ' and he placed himself at their service, animated by a lively faith, founded on intense and constant prayer," the Pope said. "How important for our time is the message of this new blessed!"

Monti was born in Bovisio, Italy, on July 24, 1825. After his father died when Luigi was 10, the boy worked as a carpenter to help his mother and younger siblings.

As a youth, he gathered artisans of his age and farmers and set up an evening oratory. Soon, the people of Bovisio nicknamed the group "the Company of Friars," for their austerity of life, dedication to the sick and poor, and efforts at evangelization.

Monti consecrated himself to God and made his vows at 21. Docile to his spiritual director, Father Luigi Dossi, together they entered the Congregation of the Sons of Mary Immaculate, founded by Ludovico Pavoni five years earlier.

At 32, Monti was still trying to discern his specific vocation. Impelled by an inner drive, he founded the Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome and the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception.

He attended to needy, orphaned and abandoned young people. He told his followers that this was the new frontier for their apostolate.

Monti's basic pedagogical principle was the paternity of the educator. Thus, the religious community welcomed orphans as a family.

Luigi Monti died in Saronno at 75 in 1900. The decree of the miraculous cure of farmer Giovanni Luigi Iecle in 1961, by Monti's intercession, was published in 2003, opening the way to his beatification.

The Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception has 336 religious and novices; 98 of its members are priests. It runs hospitals and welfare works.

On Sunday, John Paul II also beatified Spanish priest Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno (1831-1905); Belgian priest Valentin Paquay (1828-1905); Spanish religious Bonifacia Rodríguez Castro (1837-1905); and Sister Rosalie Rendu (1786-1856).