Saint of the Day – 5 May – Saint Nunzio Sulprizio (1917-1836) Aged 19 – Layman – also known as “Nuntius” born on 13 April 1817 at Pescosansonesco, Pescara, Abruzzi, Italy and died on 5 May 1836 in Naples, Italy. Patronages – the disabled, blacksmiths, Workers, Pescosansonesco. St Nunzio suffered from poor health during his brief life and was considered by those who knew him to be a gentle and pious individual. He was Beatified in late 1963 by St Pope Paul VI, after the recognition of two miracles (direct healings) attributed to his intercession. Pope Francis confirmed his Canonisation on 8 June 2018 after the confirmation of a third miracle and Nunzio was Canonised on 14 October 2018, together with Blessed Pope Paul VI, Blessed Oscar Romero (martyr) and others.
Nunzio Sulprizio was born on 13 April 1817 to Domenico Sulprizio and Rosa Luciani just after Easter. He was named after his paternal grandfather Nunzio who died on 8 September 1803. His parents had married on 28 May 1816 and he was born during a time of great famine. He was baptised before sunset mere hours after his birth. His parents took him to the Bishop of Sulmona Francesco Tiberi on 16 May 1820 so he could receive his Confirmation in the faith.
His father died on 31 July 1820 and his mother remarried in 1822 for financial support to a much older man, his little sister Domenica died just months after their father on 7 December 1820. His stepfather viewed Sulprizio with little more than harshness and contempt. The relationship between the two was nonexistent and Sulprizio bonded more with his mother and maternal grandmother. During this period of his childhood, he attended the school in Corvara that the priest De Fabiis managed. It was around this time, he also started to attend school that a local priest ran where he learned to read and to write. In his childhood, he took the time to attend Mass and come to know Jesus Christ but also to follow His example and that of the saints.
His mother died on 5 March 1823 and he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother Anna Rosaria Luciani del Rossi who was illiterate but firm in the faith. The two often took walks together and attended Mass on a regular basis. He also began to attend the school for poor students that Father Fantacci managed but his grandmother died only 3 years later, on 4 April 1826.
It was following this that his uncle – Domenico Luciani, took him on as an apprentice blacksmith. His uncle was harsh on him and often left him without proper nourishment and did not feed him if he decided that Nunzio needed either discipline or correction. He sent Nunzio to run errands regardless of the distance which put a great strain upon him. He was also beaten or cursed. The work was too heavy for his frail frame and his young age. He contracted a disease in 1831. This occurred one winter morning when his uncle sent him to the slopes of Rocca Tagliata for supplies. That evening he became feverish and had a swollen leg and a burning temperature, forcing him to bed. He did not mention this to his uncle, though the next morning he could no longer stand. His uncle was indifferent to his suffering. His condition was later diagnosed as gangrene in one leg. He was hospitalised first in L’Aquila between April and June and then in Naples. Despite his pain he dealt with it with patience and his offering his pain to God.
During his illness at home he needed to clean his sore on a constant basis since it oozed puss. There was one occasion where he went to a stream close to home to clean his wound but a woman who came to wash her clothes chased him away, after telling him that he would pollute the water. Instead he found another stream and was able to recite several rosaries as he let the water clean his sore.
In the hospital, Nunzio later met his paternal uncle – Francesco Sulprizio (a soldier) – who introduced him to a fellow soldier, Colonel Felice Wochinger. His uncle introduced him to that colonel in 1832. The two’s relationship soon grew until it became that of father and son. St Gaetano Errico (1791-1860), a priest – promised him that he would admit him into his religious order when the time was right. On 20 June 1832 he entered the Hospital of the Incurables to seek further treatment with the colonel providing for all his needs during this time. He also prepared for his First Communion and was enthusiastic about receiving it earlier, despite the fact that rules dictated that he had to be fifteen. He was sent by the Colonel for spa treatments on the island of Ischia and was able to abandon crutches in favour of a simple walking stick.
In 1835 the doctors decided to amputate his leg as their sole option but his pain continued. His situation worsened in March 1836 and his suffering increased when his fever increased. He continued to place his trust in God and was well aware of the fact that the end was near. Two months later on the date of his death he asked for a crucifix to be brought to him before summoning his confessor to receive the sacraments for the last time. He died in 1836. His remains are now located in the Church of San Domenico Soriano in Naples. Decades after his death Pope Leo XIII proposed Sulprizio as a model for workers.
The miracle that led to his Canonisation concerned a man who was injured in a motorbike accident who fell into a coma. One relic of St Nunzio was – at the request of his relations – placed in his hospital room. Almost a week later his parents were told he had made remarkable progress and had awakened from his coma and not in a vegetative state as was predicted by all the doctors concerned.