Saint of the Day – 24 October – Blessed Giuseppe Baldo (1843 – 1915) Priest and Founder of both the Little Daughters of Saint Joseph (1894) and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Mary (1882), Apostle of Charity, Founder of numerous charitable institutions – born on 19 February 1843 in Puegnago, Brescia, Italy and died on 24 October 1915 (aged 72) in Ronco all’Adige, Verona, Italy of natural causes. He is the Patron of his Orders and of Ronco all’Adige.
Giuseppe Baldo was born in Brescia on 19 February 1843 as the sixth of nine children to the farmer Angelo Baldo and his wife, the midwife Ippolita Casa, six of the Baldo’s nine children died as infants. He was Baptised on 20 February in the parish church of Saint Michael the Archangel by Fr Domenico Ottini.
He commenced his studies for the priesthood in Verona on 7 December 1858 and had excellent results in all of his studies. The Bishop of Verona, Luigi di Canossa ordained him to the priesthood on the Feast of the Assumption, 15 August 1865 after he had received a special papal dispensation, from Pope Pius IX, as he was much younger than the rules required.
He spent a year as assistant priest in the suburban parish of Montorio, after which he was called by his bishop to carry out the prestigious role of vice president of the Verona Bishopric, where he remained for 11 years as an appreciated educator and spiritual director. Feeling inspired to devote himself to a broader apostolate, he asked and obtained permission to be sent as the parish priest to Ronco all’Adige, Verona, where he remained until his death. He took possession of his parish on 17 November 1877 but he was immediately opposed by the Mafia and Freemasons, who threatened to kill him if he displayed any public religious ceremonies..
In 1882 Blessed Guiseppe established a new religious congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Mary. In 1888, he decided to found another order to administer and run the kindergarten and the canteen he had established for malnourished children. He also opened a hospital called “Casa Ippolita” in 1888 and in 1893 he founded a shelter for older people. On 21 November 1894 he founded the Little Daughters of Saint Joseph while the first ten postulants received their habits on 24 June 1896 from the Bishop of Verona, Cardinal Luigi di Canossa. The first seven female religious made their profession into the order on 25 June 1897.
The first superior appointed was not Baldo but rather Sr Clementina Forante who managed the congregation from 1864 until 1928. The order received diocesan approval on 3 May 1895 while receiving the Papl decree from St Pope Pius X on 10 February 1913 and full Papal approval – after Baldo’s death – from Pope Pius XII on 3 April 1940.
Blessed Giuseppe spent 38 years of such intense and zealous charitable and spiritual work in his Parish and the surrounds, often being threatened and abused by the local gangsters but he carried on, with total trust in the love and power of God. He died on 24 October 1915 after 22 months of a long and painful illness. His remains were transferred to the Motherhouse of the congregation on 7 September 1950. His orders now operate in Georgia, Kenya, Uganda, Italy and Rwanda amongst other places and as of 2005 there were 405 religious in 68 houses.
At the end of the canonical process, on 26 January 1987 Blessed Giuseppe received the recognition of the heroic nature of his virtues. And two years later, on 31 October 1989, he was raised to the altars with the title of Blessed at St Peter’s by St Pope John Paul II.