Saint of the Day – 16 February – Blessed Joseph Allamano (1851–1926) (aged 75) – Priest, Founder of the Consolata Missionaries (I.M.C.) congregation for males and another for females, known as the Consolata Missionary Sisters. Blessed Joseph also served as the rector of the Santuario della Consolata, the Church of the Virgin of the Consolation, a prominent Marian sanctuary and minor basilica in central Turin, Piedmont, Italy. Colloquially, the sanctuary is known as La Consla and he transformed the shrine into a source of spiritual renewal for the faithful. Patronages – Consolata Missionaries, Consolata Missionary Sisters, all Missionaries.
Giuseppe Ottavio Allamano was born in Asti on 21 January 1851 as the fourth of five children to Joseph and Marianna Cafasso Allamano. His mother was the younger sister of Saint Joseph Cafasso (1811–1860). His father died of anthrax when Giuseppe was three.
He attended the Oratory at Valdocco and, as his Teacher, he had none other than Don Bosco. At 22 he was ordained a priest in Turin and immediately placed in the responsible position of the formation of young seminarians. In 1876 he obtained a doctorate in theology and at 29 he was appointed as the rector of the most important Marian shrine in the city, dedicated to the “Madonna Consolata” and formulator of the young clergy at the Ecclesiastical Council. Between 1883 and 1885 he restructured the Sanctuary and repaired the roof. In 1899 he commissioned the architect Carlo Ceppi to expand the interior space for the faithful with the construction of four circular chapels. Joseph ensured that the shrine became a source of spiritual renewal for all the peoples of Turin.
He also responded to requests for spiritual and material comfort of Turin supporting various social initiatives and promoting the Catholic newspapers. In 1899 he began publishing the monthly La Consolata.
On recovering from a severe illness in 1891, he vowed to found a missionary society for priests and laymen. Thus the Consolata Missionaries was born on 29 January 1901. The first missionaries reached Kenya in 1902, joined in 1903 by the Sisters of Cottolengo [founded by St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo (1786–1842)]. He also founded the Consolata Missionary Sisters for women on 29 January 1910. Their founding statement is: “The cult of the Consolata will not only be contemplative but active”. That is, with the missions, the Marian shrine will acquire a universal dimension.
Due to the increasing size of the Christian population it became quite clear that there were not enough priests and brethren to cater to the pastoral needs of the people. Allamano expressed this deep concern to Pope Pius X during a visit to Rome in 1912. He urged the pope to do something and perhaps establish an annual mission day to awaken missionary vocations. The advent of the first World War ensured that the proposal was postponed. During World War I, he worked to assist refugees and the seminarians who had been drafted. He also worked on the cause of his uncle, who was beatified in 1925.
But, his idea for an annual day for missionaries came in 1927 when Pope Pius XI instituted World Mission Day.
He died in Turin on 16 February 1926. His body is now preserved and venerated in the Mother House of the Consolata Missionaries, in Turin.
He was beatified by St Pope John Paul II on 7 October 1990 and his feast was set for 16 February, the day of his return to the Father’s House.