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October 29

St Gaetano Errico - October 29

Saint Gaetano Errico

Priest, Founder New Order

(1791 – 1860)

“Let us kindle the love of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the hearts of all people.

Saint Gaetano Errico

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Italian Life 

Gaetano Errico was born on October 19, 1791 in Secondigliano, a small village on the northern boundary of the City of Naples, Italy. He was the second of nine children born to Pasquale and Marie (Marseglia) Errico. His father managed a small pasta factory and his mother worked at the loom weaving plush. As a child he was known in the small village as a good and obedient child, who helped his father in the pasta factory and eagerly shared his parent’s deep faith.

Called to Priesthood

By age 14, Gaetano felt called to the priesthood and religious life. Many congregations during this time did accept young men at an earlier age than is prevalent today.

However, Gaetano’s first choices, the Capuchins and the Redemptorists rejected his application because of his age.

Entered Seminary in Naples

At the age of 16, he proceeded to apply for the Archdiocesan Seminary of Naples and was accepted. In January 1808, having received the habit of the Diocese, he began his studies. His family’s meagre income did not allow him to reside at the seminary. Therefore, he registered as a day student which required him to walk the eight kilometers to the seminary and back each day.

During his years of formation in the seminary, he did very well in his studies. He was deeply faithful to his spiritual life never missing daily Mass and reception of the Eucharist. While still living at home with his parents, Gaetano managed to help them as well. The villagers noted his diligence in filling his days with the studies for the priesthood and visiting the sick on Thursday.  Even on Sunday, he walked through the town encouraging the children to attend their catechism classes.

Ordained

On September 23, 1815, in the Chapel of St. Restituta within the confines of the Cathedral of Naples, Gaetano was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Ruffo Scilla. Soon after ordination, he was appointed to a position as a teacher.

Zealous Teacher

For the next twenty years, he taught his students with exemplary dedication. Entrusted to his care, his students received both the elements of a good education and spiritual formation. With great care and ambitious zeal, he imparted the tenets of Christian doctrine and moral values.

He also served with loving commitment in pastoral service at the Parish Church of Saint Cosmas and Damian. His ministry was characterized by four principle concerns: Proclamation of the Word; Ministry of Reconciliation: material and spiritual assistance to the sick and selfless charity. Each principle held for Gaetano the way to proclaim and make known to all men and women that in God they have a Father who loves them.

Vision at Annual Retreat

Every year, he travelled to Pagani (in Salerno), a Redemptorist house, for his annual retreat. In the year 1818 while praying, an extraordinary event occurred – an event that would change his life forever. St. Alphonsus Liguori appeared to him in a vision and told him that God wanted him to found a new religious congregation.

His Vision

Further, as a sign of this desire, he was to build a church in Secondigliano in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows. With this vision of Our Lady in his mind, Gaetano was assured that he would succeed.

At first, the people of Secondigliano welcomed with joy the news that God wanted a church in honour of the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus in their little village. However, human weakness being ever apparent, some were opposed. Although their numbers were few, their jealousy and distrust made the task more difficult for Gaetano.

New Church Built in Secondigliano

He never lost sight of the goal however and against all odds the Church was built as God wanted. The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows was blessed on December 9, 1830.

When the Church was nearly completed, Father Gaetano began the construction of a house to serve as the first home of the future congregation. A small house was built. Father Gaetano resided there with a lay brother who maintained the Church.

From such humble beginnings, he proceeded to reach out, welcoming priests to come for retreat, hoping to inspire within their hearts a desire to commit themselves to the missions and religious life.

Our Lady of Sorrows Scupture

Upon completion of the Church and house, Father Gaetano commissioned Francesco Verzella, a famous Neapolitan sculptor, to create an image of Our Lady of Sorrows. It has been said that the sculptor had to redo the statue several times. The vision of her facely sorrow was clear in Fr. ErricoÂ’s mind. Finally, the sculptor got it right and Fr. Errico exclaimed, “It is so!”

The statue arrived in Secondigliano in May of 1835 and from then on drew an unending number of pilgrims.

New Order Founded – Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

The following year, again while Fr. Errico was on retreat in Pagani, God revealed to him that the new congregation to be founded must be in honor of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The love of the Sacred Hearts urged him to seek sinners and bring them back to God, to give of himself tirelessly and unendingly. With a burning drive within his heart, he especially searched out the most vulnerable, those in danger, the sick, the abandoned and shunned and the spiritually bereft. He wanted everyone to feel the touch of a loving father who was ever ready to forgive and slow to anger.

He gained approval for the new congregation and its statutes on March 14, 1836 and in October of that year opened a novitiate with eight novices. He sought papal approval in May 1838.On June 30, the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars issued the decree.

In order to strengthen his Congregation, he sought royal approval which was granted on May 13, 1840.

Elected Superior General

In April 1846, he once again went to Rome to ask for final approval. The Congregation by now had grown, the number of its members had increased and new houses had been opened in southern Italy. On August 7, 1846, Blessed Pius IX issued the Apostolic Brief of Approbation. Gaetano was unanimously elected Superior General.

A Man with a Mission

Fr. Gaetano was truly a man of God, a man with a mission, a man on fire with an unquenchable love of Jesus and Mary. The first secret of his holiness was prayer. Ever on his knees, his small room in the house in Secondigliano bears the indentations on the floor where, kneeling, he found refuge and strength.

Penance further sustained his holiness. He fasted continuously, often only taking bread and water in order to give his share of food to the poor. Self-flagellation was part of his penance, offered humbly for the many sins that wounded the Heart of Jesus. He was never too tired to travel on, preaching, hearing confessions, encouraging the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. His comfort and caring presence reminded all of the love of God the Father… leading many in the small towns and villages to call him a saint.

His Death

Fr. Errico died on October 29, 1860 at 10:00 AM at the age of 69.

His last testament to his missionaries was… Love one another and be very observant of our Rules.

Beatified:           April 14, 2002 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:        October 12, 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI

Feast Day:         October 29

Patron Saint:    Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Source:   Gaetano Errico (1791-1860 – Biography (vatican.va)

Reflection

Saint Gaetano’s love of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary urged him to seek sinners and bring them back to God.  Saint Gaetano gave of himself tirelessly and unendingly. His ministry was characterised by four principle concerns – proclamation of the Word;  ministry of reconciliation;  material and spiritual assistance to the sick and selfless charity. 

Do you have a burning drive within your heart to search out the most vulnerable, those in danger, the sick, the abandoned, the shunned and the spiritually weak? No matter your age, you can always have everyone feel the touch of a loving God by your acts of kindness to all the people you encounter every day at home, at school and at work.

Prayers

God of love, thank you for the example of St. Gaetano. Give us the courage to share the good news of Jesus with others as he did. May we, too, bring hope to the lives of others.

Saint Gaetano Errico, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Celebrating Saint Gaetano Errico – CATECHIST Magazine

Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 29 October – St Gaetano Errico (1791-1860)

Catechist – Celebrating Saint Gaetano Errico

Catholic Online – St. Gaetano Errico

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Gaetano Errico

Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – St. Gaetano Errico

The Daily Compass – Saint Gaetano Errico

Vatican – Gaetano Errico (1791-1860)

Wikipedia – Gaetano Errico

Video Link

What You Never Knew About St Gaetano Errico – YouTube (MSSCC Media)