Bl. Luigi Tezza

Memorial : 26 September

Luigi was born in Conegliano, Treviso, on 1 November 1841, the only son of Augustine Tezza, a physician, and Catherine Nedwiedt. At nine he lost his father and his mother moved to Padua, where Luigi did his high school studies. In 1850, at 15, he entered the Order of the Ministers of the Sick of St Camillus de Leilis in Verona. After entrusting her son to the Camillians, convinced of his true vocation, his mother entered the convent of the Visitation at Padova. In 1858 Luigi made his religious profession and in 1864 he was ordained. In 1871 Luigi was made master of novices. In 1871 he was sent to begin a new foundation in France, and later became its first provincial. He succeeded in establishing community life and in setting up Camillian homes for the sick. When religious institutes were suppressed in 1880 he was expelled from France as a foreigner, but secretly returned and was able to unite the scattered religious. He resisted the suppression, and was also responsible for laying the foundations for future growth. In 1891 he was elected Procurator and Vicar General of the Camillians, and providentially met Josephine Vannini on his return to Rome (beatified on 16 Oct. 1994) who had the desire to live in a Camillian institute. So it was that the Congregation of the Daughters of St Camillus came into being on 2 February 1892, enriching the Camillian charism with the feminine qualities of tenderness, hospitality, intuition and attentive listening. These were the gifts Camillus sought in his nursing religious women. The Institute was approved by the Holy See in 1931, and grew rapidly. In 1900, Fr Luigi, then 59, was sent with Fr Angelo Ferroni as Visitor to Lima, Peru, to refound the Camillian community in Lima, separated from the Order for more than a century. Although the task was completed, the Archbishop and the Nuncio considered him indispensable, so his superiors allowed him to stay on until his death, 23 years later in the city of Los Reyes, 26 September 1923. His mortal remains rest in the chapel of the Generalate of the Daughters of St Camillus in Grottaferrata, Rome. Luigi devoted himself to meeting the needs of the sick, especially the poor, at home, in hospital and in prison. He was confessor and spiritual director of the archdiocesan seminary and of religious orders. On his tomb an unknown visitor carved the words: "Apostle of Lima"; and Cardinal Lauri was to describe him as "the holiest priest in the Diocese of Lima".

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