On 07 October 1990 for the Beatification of Fr Annibale, John Paul II said, “the fire of love for the Lord and for men and women marked the whole life and work of Blessed Annibale Maria Di Francia. Struck from his teen years by the Gospel phrase ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvst to send labourers to the harvest.’ (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2), he spent all his energies in this noble cause.” As we approach the Feast Day of St Annibale on 01 June, let us spend some time reflecting on his life.*
St Annibale gave up his life and his belongings, and the alms he received for spiritual and temporal charity. He felt the love towards his neighbour at the highest degree, and practised it as a mission that God had confided to him in favour of the orphans and the unfortunate. His work was manifold, copious and continuous. Messina was proud of Father Di Francia as a true apostle of charity.
Charity placed a distinguishing mark on him, and the institutions he founded show that he lived on, in, and for it, because Father Annibale Mary Di Francia is synonymous to charity. The Servant of God himself gave clear evidence of this in a letter addressed to the municipal administrators of Ostuni, when writing about the various works of charity. He ingenuously stated: “It is a mission I feel born for”; and to the charity committee of Taormina “Since my youth I have consecrated myself to the only end of relieving my neighbour’s misery, doing my utmost according to my poor means.” Father Annibale Di Francia was a “Father of the orphans and of the poor”, as the citizens of Messina liked to call him.
Next week: St Annibale – Father of the Poor
*Source: Blessed Hannibal Mary Di Francia booklet, Philippines