June 26, 2014

⛪ Blessed Andrew of Campodasego

Saint of the Day : June 26

Other Names :
• Andrea of Fiumicello • Andrew Longhin
• Andrew of Campodarsego • Bishop of the Catechism
• Hyacinth Bonaventure Longhin

 Born :
22 November 1863 in Fiumicello di Campodarsego, province and diocese of Padua, Italy as Hyacinth Bonaventure Longhin

 Died :
• Friday 26 June 1936 in Treviso, Italy of natural causes following an eight-month illness
• Interred in the cathedral of Treviso

Sometimes, Even a 'Lesser Brother' Must Be Humble Enough to Lead

At first sight, there is something incongruous about a Friar Minor being a Bishop. Saint Francis wanted all his Brothers to be humble Minors, lesser ones, sharing the lot of the little ones of this world who are stuck on the bottom rung of every social ladder. A bishop, on the other hand, needs to be a leader in the Church and in society, someone who presides at the Table of the Lord as a Successor of the Apostles, vested with teaching expertise and real governing powers. All this would seem to indicate that such an elevation to Bishopship and all the trappings that go with this is a far cry from the normal vocation of a Friar Minor, which of its essence, is a calling to lesserness and minority. Yet every now and then God promotes a Capuchin Friar Minor to episcopate and among the most famous Capuchin recipients of this grace is a Brother called 'Andrew of Campodasego'. better known as Blessed Andrew Hyacinth Longhin, Titular Archbishop of Patras, renowned Bishop of Treviso and lowly Capuchin Lesser Brother. For the Brother Andrew, becoming Bishop of Treviso necessarily involved a certain distancing from the humble lifestyle of a Capuchin Lesser Brother, but, then again, even a 'Lesser Brother' must be humble enough to lead.

Becoming a Capuchin despite Father’s Opposition

Bishop Longhin (center, with floor) before his birthplace in Fiumicello 
Hyacinth Bonaventure Longhin was born on the 23rd November 1863 the only son of Matthew Longhin and his wife, Judith Marin, poor, good-living tenant farmers from Fiumicello di Campodarsego near Padua. Not wishing to be deprived his only son’s help on the farm, Matthew was, at first, firmly opposed to young Hyacinth’s desire to become a Capuchin priest. However, Hyacinth won out, in the end, and on the 27th of August  1879, he was received as a Novice the Venetian province’s Novitiate Friary at Bassano del Grappa. From then on he was known by his religious name, Brother Andrew of Campodasego. On the 4th of October 1883, Brother Andrew made his solemn profession at Padua where he had completed his high school studies and, having completed theological studies in Venice, he was ordained a priest there on the 19th of June 1886. In 1888 he was appointed Spiritual Director and teacher at the Capuchins’ Minor Seminary at Udine and in 1889 he was appointed Director and Teacher of the Clerical High School Students at Padua. Two years later he was appointed Director and Professor of Clerical Theology Students at Venice. He was elected Provincial Minister of the Venetian Capuchins on the 18th of April 1902.  

'One of the fairest flowers of the Capuchins’ Order' Appointed Bishop

Two years later, in 1904, the recently elected Pope Saint Pius X nominated Brother Andrew of Campodasego as Bishop of Treviso. The saintly Pope Pius, who had been a priest of the Diocese of Treviso, had known Brother Andrew quite well when he was Patriarch of Venice prior to his election as Pope and therefore he was pleased that he had “chosen one of the fairest flowers of the Capuchins’ Order.” For his part, the newly appointed Bishop Andrew Hyacinth Longhin always considered Pope Saint Pius’s friendship a great privilege, and after the Pontiff’s happy death, he was delighted to initiate the Ordinary Diocesan Process for Beatification for his friend, a process that lasted from 1923 to 1926.

A Reforming Bishop

Bishop Longhin (center) with the teachers and students of the Seminary of the Diocese of Treviso 1911 

Before entering Treviso to take possession of his Cathedral, the newly ordained Bishop Andrew Hyacinth Longhin sent two pastoral letters outlining his proposed reform programme. Over the next five years he conducted a pastoral visitation of every parish in his Diocese. He himself would preach and catechize the young and made every effort to get to know the Diocese’s priests and faithful. At the end of this pastoral visitation he organized a Diocesan Synod. He held two more pastoral visitations of the Diocese, one of which concluded in 1925 and another which concluded in in 1928. Though his efforts to reform the Diocese met with resistance at times, he managed to improve the quality of teaching and spiritual direction at the Diocesan Seminary and promoted regular retreats for the Diocesan clergy. He once said, "I have had one ambition: to make all my priests saints." He encouraged religious orders to work in his diocese and male Religious Institutes went from 7 to 12 while women's Religious Institutes increased from 10 to 24 during his time as Bishop. He was a strong promoter of the 'Catholic Action' movement, and the teaching of catechism to children and adults was such a top priority for him, that he is sometimes called 'the Bishop of the Cathechism'.

Highly Decorated So-called 'Defeatist'! 

During World War I, Treviso was on the front lines and many civilians and government officials fled south, but Bishop Longhin remained at his post throughout. He also urged his priests to do likewise. Thus not only did he and his priests function as the community‘s religious leaders but also as the main civil leaders for a citizenry abandoned by their own government. He provided for the material needs of soldiers, the wounded, the sick and the poor. Because he refused to ally himself with any of the war parties, he was accused in some quarters of being defeatist and unpatriotic but, after the war, he was decorated by the Italian government with the Military Cross, the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and the White Cross of the Third Army. he worked hard to rebuild the city and the 47 parishes that had been destroyed in the war.

Doctrinally Conservative, Socially Progressive

Bishop Longhin encouraged lay movements, especially defending the rights of the lay faithful to form trade unions, and he promoted workers’ rights. Yet he insisted on peaceful protest as well as absolute fidelity to the Church, something that did not always endear him to the Fascist regime which ruled Italy at the time. Bishop Andrew Hyacinth who was strict on Church discipline and thoroughly orthodox in his teachings was, nevertheless, very socially progressive for his time. For instance when someone questioned whether a deaf and dumb woman could enter a congregation of Sisters, he replied that Jesus made his own choices when it comes to vocations, and that. as Master, He can bestow His gifts as He pleases not only on women with hearing impairments and speech defects, but also on the greatest of sinners.  

The Popes’ Trustworthy Collaborator

His pastoral and administrative skills impressed not only his friend Pope Saint Pius X but also his successors, Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI. Pope Pius XI said of him, “He has worked so much for the Church”. In 1923, Pope Pius XI appointed him Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Padua and, at the behest of the same Pope, he served as Visitator and Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Udine between 1927 and 1928. In both of these Dioceses he worked to restore harmony and good relations between the Diocesan clergy and their Bishops. On the 4th of October 1928, Bishop Andrew Hyacinth Longhin was appointed Titular Archbishop of Patras. He continued, however, to minister as the Diocesan Bishop of Treviso. 

A Pastoral Spirituality

During all his time as Bishop, Brother Andrew continued to live as best he could a life of Capuchin austerity and poverty. He had a deeply pastoral spirituality and was concerned to fulfill the will of God in all things, while encouraging others to do likewise. He once said, “Our perfection and the end for which we are created lie in this: to do God's will on the bad days as well as on the good, in joy and in sorrow, because it is always God who sends this to us and we must be happy with what He wants”. He prepared his sermons carefully, consulting theologians and other scholars to supplement his knowledge of the subjects on which he expounded.

Blessed Those Who Endure in Peace!

Ready to do God’s will on bad days as well as good, Bishop Andrew Hyacinth had plenty of bad days to be happy about, especially in the last nine months of his life. During that time he was being pestered with severe arthritic pain and the results of having been suddenly struck blind on the 3rd of October 1935, but he endured all these sufferings in peace until his holy death on the 26th of June 1936. Brother Andrew of Campodasego, better known as Bishop Andrew Hyacinth Longhin was beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II on the 20th of October 2002. The relics of Blessed Andrew Hyacinth Longhin, that is to say the mortal remains of the Capuchin priest, Brother Andrew of Campodasego lie enshrined in the Cathedral Church of Treviso. During his lifetime, he was a close friend and confrere of Saint Leopold of Herzeg Novi, who belonged to the same Venetian Capuchin Province, and spiritual advisor to Saint Mary Bertilla Boscardin, as well a number of Sevants of God whose causes for beatification are now in progress But it is his friend Pope Saint Pius X who leaves us the best description of Blessed Andrew Hyacinth, whe he prophesied in 1907, "It is one of my firstborn sons that I have given as a gift to the most beloved Diocese, and I exult every time his praises are recounted to me. (He) is truly saintly, learned, a bishop of ancient times, who will leave on the diocese an indelible imprint of his apostolic zeal."   

"Love one another, Love the Lord. Seek the Kingdom of God. This counts, The rest is to no avail. Become saints. Become saints." - Blessed Andrew of Campodasego

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