Thought for the Day – 24 October – The Memorial of St Luigi Guanella (1842-1915)
St Luigi and St Joseph – “The Pious Union of St Joseph”
In his daily life, Fr Guanella had a great devotion to St Joseph, custodial father of Jesus and safeguard of the virginity of Mary, his wife, the Mother of God. He reminded his priests and nuns that St Joseph is the administrator of all their homes. All superiors must have the love and care of St Joseph, as well as the kindness and gentleness of Mary, in dealing with the residents.
His love and care had no limit. His dear impaired people were assisted to the very end. When he was home, it was his duty to give his blessing for the dying. His motto was, “Let us give them bread and paradise” and this was implanted in the hearts of all his nuns and priests.
In Rome, six years before his death and physically tired by his work, Fr Guanella was inspired to build a Church and start an Association in honour of St Joseph, patron of the dying. Pope Pius X, a very close friend, expressed a desire to have a church in Trionfale, a very poor area near the Vatican. The Pope’s desire strengthened Fr Guanella’sown ideas. Trusting to divine providence, he put a down payment on the land and the foundation was immediately begun. On the property, there was a barn which became the first Chapel of St Joseph. The people called it the ‘Basilichetta’ (small Basilica.) In 1912, Fr Guanella announced to the Pope that the Church was completed in honour of St Joseph and His Holiness, whose baptismal name was Joseph Sarto.
The Pope admired Fr Guanella for his courage and devotion to St Joseph and when he heard about the Pious Union Association of prayers for the dying, he said to Fr Luigi, “Please make me the first member.”
In 1913, Pope Pius X gave his approval, making the Church of the Pious Union the main centre for all the universal church. His beloved Pope Pius X died in 1914, one year before Fr Guanella’s own death. The two saints understood each other so well.