Saint of the Day – 20 December – The First Feast Day of St Vincenzo Romano (1751-1831) since his Canonisation on 14 October this year (2018) together with St Pope Paul VU and St Oscar Romero, amongst others – Priest, Shepherd and Apostle of Charity, Carer of Orphans, Eucharist Adorer, Evangelist and Catechist, Love of his flock – born on 3 June 1751 at Torre del Greco, Naples, Italy and died on 20 December 1831 at Torre del Greco, Naples, Italy of pneumonia. Patronages – Torre del Greco, Orphans, Sailors, Against throat tumours, Neapolitan priests.
Vincenzo Romano was born in Torre del Greco, Italy, on 3 June 1751, to a poor but pious family. He was baptised Domenico Vincenzo Michele Romano, being given the name “Vincenzo” in honour of the Romano family’s favourite saint, Vincent Ferrer. Romano spent the first years of his life in a very religious family atmosphere, studying the writings of Saint Alphonsus Liguori and developing a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Though his father initially hoped he would become a goldsmith, he supported his son’s decision to enter the priesthood. Initially, Vincenzo had a difficult time being accepted due to the high number of seminarians and local clergy but he was admitted to the diocesan seminary of Naples at the age of 14.
Ordained in 1775 at the age of 24, Fr Romano worked at Santa Croce Parish, which at the time included the entire city of Torre del Greco, the most populated city in the territory of Naples. He was noted by many for his simple ways, his care of orphans and his work with other candidates for the priesthood.
After the terrible eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius on 15 June 1794, which almost completely destroyed the city and the parish church, he immediately dedicated himself to the difficult work of material and spiritual reconstruction of the city and the church. He devoted many hours to organising the rebuilding efforts of the city and was even willing to work with his own hands, cleaning up and clearing rubble.
Though often oppressed by political groups and those around him, Romano stayed resilient throughout his time at Santa Croce and made sure always to pay careful attention to the education of children and to evangelisation of the people. He was said to have been a preacher who proclaimed the message of the Gospel in a way that was simple and aimed at educating the faithful.
Sadly, on 1 January 1825, he fell and fractured his left femur, which began a steady decline in his health. He died of pneumonia in Torre del Greco on 20 December 1831, after this long and painful illness but left behind a legacy of committed fraternal charity and care. Recognised for his holiness and the dedication he had to his people, Fr Romano was Beatified by St Pope Paul VI on 17 November 1963, in Rome. His body having been interred in the Basilica of Santa Croce, it was in that place that John Paul II went to venerate him on 11 November 1990, during his pastoral visit to the Church of Naples.
Following the example of the Good Shepherd, Fr Vincenzo Romano was a simple but powerful figure for those in Torre del Greco. He spent a lifetime guiding the community under his care, confirming it in the faith and elevating it through his love.
St Vincenzo was Canonised on 14 October 2018, Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis.