RMG – Artemide Zatti, first Salesian coadjutor saint. Interview with Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, SDB, Postulator General

11 April 2022

(ANS - Rome) – Father Cameroni, you are the Postulator General of the Salesian Family. How did you receive the news of the recognition of the miracle that took place through the intercession of Blessed Artemide Zatti, Salesian coadjutor, who was born on 12 October 1880 in Boretto (Italy) and died on 15 March 1951 in Viedma (Argentina)?

I welcomed it with great joy and gratitude to the Lord for this sign of His grace made to the Church and to the entire Salesian Family. Thanks also to Pope Francis. It is worth mentioning that the Holy Father has a great devotion to Artemide Zatti, because thanks to his intercession when he was Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina, he obtained numerous vocations of lay brothers for the Society of Jesus. The Decree published on the miracle paved the way for the canonization of Blessed Artemide Zatti, a Salesian coadjutor. He is the first Salesian coadjutor saint.

What was this unexplained healing?

It is about the miraculous recovery of a man suffering from a "right cerebellar ischemic stroke complicated by a voluminous hemorrhagic lesion." The event under consideration occurred in the Philippines in August 2016. In early August this person suddenly began to experience profuse sweating, dizziness, and vomiting. Due to the worsening of the symptoms and the appearance of difficulty in walking, he was hospitalized. In the following days, the patient continued his hospital stay without any improvement to his health; indeed being disoriented and confused in his speaking capacity he was transferred to intensive care. A neurosurgical check advised the need for surgery, which was not possible due to the family's poverty. Consequently, the family decided to bring their relative home so that he could spend the last days of his life with his family. The dying man received the anointing of the sick and called family members and relatives around him to take leave of them. Instead, on August 24, 2016, against all expectations, the patient removed his tube and oxygen, called his relatives, and said he was fine and wanted to take a bath and start eating. This was a man who was brought home to die and was healthy again after a few days!

And how does the intercession of Blessed Artemide Zatti come about?

It is thanks to the prayer of the patient's brother, a Salesian brother, who, having learned of his relative’s serious situation, began to pray during community vespers on the very day his brother was hospitalized, asking for his healing through the intercession of Blessed Artemide Zatti. Not only that; this Salesian coadjutor invites relatives to join in prayer. He leads the prayer and urges them to continue doing so in the following days, intensely invoking Blessed Artemide Zatti. The connection of time and cause between the invocation of the intercession of Blessed Artemide Zatti and the healing of the man, who immediately enjoys good health and resumes a normal social and family life, is clear.

Does this miracle confirm the charism of Blessed Artemide Zatti, called "the relative of the poor"?

Certainly, because in his hospital in Viedma, Argentina, Artemide welcomed and assisted precisely those who could not afford the cost of medicines and hospitalization. Here, too, Zatti intervened with his intercession, obtaining the healing of a person who could not bear the cost of surgery. Zatti saw, recognized, and served Jesus Christ in person in the poor, the sick, and the needy. It is worth noting that the miracle did not occur only as physical healing. The grace of God while healing bodies, touches the hearts and lives of people, renewing them in faith, in relationships, in the witness of a new life.

What was the process that led to the recognition of the miracle?

After the Diocesan Inquiry carried out in 2018, all the documentation collected was transmitted to Rome and then the Positio super miro was prepared. The Medical Council, in July 2021, acknowledged that the healing was rapid, complete and lasting, as well as unexplainable according to the laws of science. To the question of whether it was a true miracle performed by God, the Theological Consultors first and then the Cardinal Fathers and Bishops answered in the affirmative.

Fr Cameroni, can you remind us of the salient features of Artemide Zatti's life?

Artemide Zatti was born in Boretto (Reggio Emilia, Italy) on October 12, 1880. It did not take long for him to experience the hardship of sacrifice, so much so that at the age of nine he was already earning his living as a farmhand. Forced by poverty, at the beginning of 1897, the family emigrated to Argentina to settle in Bahía Blanca. Here Artemide began to attend the parish led by the Salesians. Advised to become a Salesian, he was accepted as an aspirant by Monsignor Giovanni Cagliero and, at the age of twenty, entered the house in Bernal where he was entrusted, among other things, with the task of assisting a young priest sick with tuberculosis. Artemide also contracted the disease. He was therefore sent to the hospital of San José in Viedma. Here he was especially cared for by the priest and empirical doctor, Father Evaristo Garrone. Together with him, he asked and obtained from Mary Help of Christians the grace of healing with the promise, on his part, to dedicate his whole life to the care of the sick. He recovered and kept his promise. In 1908 he made his perpetual profession. First, he began to take care of the pharmacy annexed to the hospital. Later, he had total responsibility for the hospital, which became the training ground of his holiness. He had an absolute dedication to his patients. In 1913, he was the driving force behind the construction of the new hospital, which was later demolished in 1941 to make room for the episcopate of the nascent diocese of Viedma. Undeterred, he equipped another one. Like Don Bosco, he made Providence the first and sure income of the budget of his works. Suffering from cancer, he died on March 15, 1951. John Paul II beatified him on April 14, 2002.

What message does Artemide Zatti give us with his upcoming canonization?

Don Bosco had told his Salesians who left for America: "Take special care of the sick, the children, the elderly, the poor, and you will earn God's blessing and the goodwill of men". Like a Good Samaritan, Zatti welcomed the poor, the sick, and those rejected by society to the inn of his heart and the San José Hospital in Viedma. In each of them he visited Christ, he cared for Christ, he fed Christ, he clothed Christ, housed Christ, honored Christ. Furthermore, the canonization of Blessed Artemide Zatti, a Salesian coadjutor, tells us of the beauty of the consecrated life and the value of a life wholly dedicated to God in the service of the poor with the apostolic heart of Don Bosco. It is a strong impulse to promote the vocation of the Salesian brother, who brings to all educational and pastoral fields the value proper to his laity, which makes him in a specific way a witness to the Kingdom of God in the world.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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