Italy – St. Luigi Versiglia, model of missionary and Christian life

25 February 2022

(ANS - Tortona) - Today, 25 February, is the 92nd anniversary of the martyrdom of the Salesian proto-martyrs Msgr. Luigi Versiglia and Fr Callisto Caravario. The Diocese of Tortona - whose territory includes the town of Oliva Gessi, which was the birthplace of St. Luigi Versiglia - commemorated the Salesian proto-martyr bishop already last Sunday, 20 February, with a solemn Mass in the cathedral presided over by the bishop Msgr. Guido Marini.

At the opening of his homily, Msgr. Marini, a past pupil of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) of Rome, invited the faithful to “listen to the Word that the Lord has addressed to us”, and at the same time, “listen to the life of St. Luigi Versiglia, because this life, too, with its example, speaks to us of God's will for us.”

“The centrality of Christ: this is God's will for us,” added the prelate, underlining that every man is called to leave the old man, Adam, the man who comes from the Earth, to make the New Man, the Christ, who comes from Heaven. “St. Luigi Versiglia understood this since he was a boy,” he continued, “putting Christ at the center, doing everything for Him, and cultivating from a young age the desire to go to the ends of the earth to bring Him, the Lord, the New Man, the beginning of a New World. How much good did Saint Luigi Versiglia do!”

After then citing the works of charity and the love that the Salesian martyr shared in his life "in Christ", the bishop also underlined “the courage of faith” as a fundamental element of the Christian's life. And comparing Msgr. Versiglia to King David, protagonist of the First Reading of that day, the bishop of Tortona remarked how in the last part of his life he wanted at all costs to reach a Christian community he was unable to go to for a long time for various reasons. “He knew that the journey was long and dangerous, that his life was at risk, but he did not hold back, because he knew that that was God's will for him: and he embraced it and lived it with courage,” he declared.

Finally, referring back to the page of the Gospel, in which Jesus invites the disciples to love their enemies and to pray for those who mistreat them, the prelate identified a final distinctive trait in the life of St. Luigi Versiglia: “he loved to the end ... When he met the pirates who stopped him on the dangerous journey that led him to the mission place, he loved to the end, saving the lives of catechists on a mission like him; he loved until the end, forgiving his aggressors; he loved until the end because he loved without measure.”

The final appeal of Msgr. Marini, for many years Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, was to ask the Lord to “go even further”, according to a prayer by the Patron of the Missions, St. Francis Xavier, and following the testimony of Msgr. Versiglia.

The complete homily of Msgr. Marini is available on the YouTube channel of RadioPNR In Blu- Tortona.


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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