Saint of the Day – 7 June – St Anthony Mary Gianelli (1789-1846) Bishop, Founder, eloquent Preacher, Apostle of Charity and evangelisation – born Antonio Maria Gianelli on 12 April 1789 at Cerreto, Italy – died on 7 June 1846 of a serious fever. Patronages – Bobbio, Val di Vara, Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden. St Anthony Mary was also the founder of the Missionaries of St Alphonsus, the Oblates of St Alphonsus and the Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden. Gianelli was dedicated to the educational needs of his people and catered to their spiritual and material needs as well; he was on hand to aid the ill and the poor and made evangelisation a focus to his episcopal mission. He likewise preached missions and became known for his charisma and his eloquence.
Anthony Maria Gianelli was born in 1789 into a middle-class family living near Genoa in the north of Italy. As a child, people were often struck by his gentle nature, industriousness and extraordinary intelligence. When he came of age, the lady who owned the farm his family lived on, became his generous benefactress and financed his schooling and entry into the ecclesiastical seminary in Genoa.
He quickly distinguished himself by his virtue and exceptional eloquence, thus earning him the unusual privilege of being allowed to preach while still a subdeacon. In 1812, when he was twenty-three years old, he was granted special dispensation to be ordained a priest two years before the required canonical age.
Although Fr Anthony was dedicated to his educational work, he also devoted himself to the work of preaching and hosting missions which resulted in a great harvest of souls. All this was in addition to all his ordinary duties and functions as a parish priest – indeed, he was often confined to his confessional for long stretches of time in order to accommodate the endless stream of penitents who flocked to him for spiritual aid.
He was ordained a bishop in 1838 and appointed to the diocese of Bobbio, where he led his flock by his extraordinary example of virtue, prudence and firm government. He organised the Society of Saint Raphael and Society of Saint Dorothea to instruct the faithful in his diocese and restored devotion to Saint Columbanus in his diocese. He conducted two synods and was constantly on the road from parish to parish, visiting his flock.
Before his death from a fever in 1846, at the age of fifty-seven, Bishop Gianelli founded three religious orders – two for men and one for women. The Missionaries of St Alphonsus and the Oblates of St Alphonsus were established in 1827-1828 but sadly, both lasted only twenty years.
The Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden were founded in 1829 and dedicated their lives to teaching poor children and caring for the ill and infirm. They are still active and well known today in Italy and in other parts of the world as well.
Anthony Gianelli was canonised in on 25 October 1951 by Pope Pius XII.