Saint of the day – 13 January – Blessed Francesco Maria Greco (1857-1931) Priest and Founder with Servant of God Raffaela De Vincentis (Sr Maria Teresa De Vincenti (1872-1936) of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Sacred Scripture, Apostle of Charity, devotee of Eucharistic Adoration, the Blessed Virgin and the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Born on 26 July 1857 in Acri, Cosenza, Italy and died on 13 January 1931 in Acri, Cosenza, Italy of bronchitis. Patronages – the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts and Acri.
Francesco Maria Greco, was born on 27 July 1857 in Acri, in what was then the Diocese of San Marco e Bisignano. Preparing for his father’s profession, pharmacist, while still a student in Naples he felt a call to the priesthood. At that time, while visiting the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, still under construction, he asked for the grace of becoming “a learned priest for doing good ministry.” He conquered the resistances of his parents and was ordained a priest in 1881. In Acri he became arch-priest-pastor of the Church of St Nicholas, from 1888 to his death.
In the light of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, for whom he had a special devotion, he carried out intense and fruitful pastoral work. Living and working in Acri in the late 1800s, Fr Francesco realised that religious ignorance was the greatest problem his parishioners and townspeople face – for the less they knew about God, the further from Him they remained. Together with his sister, Maria Teresa, he began a catechetical program to teach children, young people and adults about the Catholic faith. The most dedicated catechist was Raffaella De Vincenti, who later became the faithful collaborator of Blessed Francisco, in the Institute’s foundation, on 21 November 1894, through her profession of the vows, of chastity, poverty and obedience, through which she received her religious name of Sister Maria Teresa of the Sacred Hearts.
Others soon followed as young women from Acri and nearby towns heard of the catechetical work to which she and Fr Francesco had devoted all their energies. The Institute “… founded out of a spirit of charity, namely the love of God”, has as “its principal purpose catechetical instruction in parishes .” Through its apostolic works, this Institute, gives witness to the charity of the Sacred Hearts directed in a special way to children and young people who are in need of human and Christian formation.
Always full of priestly concern for others, this blessed man founded the Caritas hospital which he entrusted to his sisters.
He also co-operated to the good performance of his diocese, making himself available to requests from Bishops, who held him in high esteem. He taught Dogmatic Theology and Sacred Scripture in the Seminary of Bisignano and was its Rector for three years, while at the same time the fulfilling his role as pastor. Surrounded by wide fame of holiness he fell asleep in the Lord on 13 January 1931.
The cause of beatification began in 1960, was given in 1999 to Fr P Luca De Rosa, OFM, general Postulator. The servant of God was declared Venerable on 19 April 2004. On 21 January 2016, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the causes of Saints to promulgate the Decree of recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession, thus allowing for his Beatification which took place on 21 May 2016. The Beatification recognition was celebrated at Cosenza, Italy, with Cardinal Angelo Amato as the chief celebrant. The beatification miracle involved bringing Nina Pancaro out of a coma in which she had lapsed following a severe illness and surger. While comatose, she was visited by a dream of Father Francesco who healed her and woke her up.