Having posted a number of articles on St Annibale recently, here are a few historical facts and events in our Father Founder’s life.
July 5, 1851
Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia was born in Messina, the third of four children. On July 7, he was baptized in the church of St. Mary of Providence (Parish of Saint Lawrence).
At the age of 17, he obtained the permission from his confessor to receive the Eucharist daily. In the same period, while praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the church of St. John of Malta in Messina, he understands the need to pray for vocations. He has what could be called the “Divine Intuition of the Rogate.” Sometime later, he found in the Gospel (Mt 9.38 and Lk. 10.2) the command of Jesus: “Rogate ergo Dominum messis ut mittat operarios in messem Suam.”
He felt, in an extraordinary way, the call to the priesthood and chose the ideal of life to serve God in his Neighbor. One day he would declare: “My vocation was sudden, irresistible, absolutely sure.”
December 1877 – January 1878
The deacon Hannibal Mary Di Francia met in an alley of Messina, the beggar Francis Zancone, who lived in the degraded “Avignone Quarters”. That providential encounter gave birth to all the charitable works of Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia.
March 16, 1878
He was ordained priest in the church of the Holy Spirit in Messina and began his ministry of human, social and Christian promotion among the poor of the “Avignone Quarters”.
Not finding it in any books of devotions, he himself composed the first prayer for Vocations. This prayer was recited every day by the poor of “Avignone Quarters”.
September – October 1881
Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia established the first workshops out of some houses he bought in the Avignone Quarters. He then started the process of education of youth, that will eventually develop into colleges, institutes, laboratories, training centers.
September 8, 1882
Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia officially opened the first female Orphanage in the Avignone Quarters.
November 4, 1883
Start of the first male Orphanage in Avignone Quarters in Messina.July 1, 1886 Thursday, Octave of Corpus Christi. With the consent of the Archbishop, Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia blessed the fi rst Chapel in Avignone Quarter, after two years of fervent expectation and intense preparation. A year after, he established that this event should be perennially remembered, thus the beginning in his Institutions of the “Feast of July First.”
March 19, 1887
Birth of the female Congregation with the entrance to the novitiate of the first four young girls. The emblem that distinguishes them is a Heart in a cloth, stitched on their habit, with the inscription: “Rogate messis Dominum.”
Mrs. Susanna Consiglio sent to Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia the fi rst offering of 60 liras, to fulfil a vow made to St. Anthony, who spared her loved ones from cholera epidemic. Thus, initiated the providential establishment of the “Bread of St. Anthony” for the orphans of “Avignone Quarters”.
May 16, 1897
Birth of the male Congregation with the vesting of religious habit of the first three Brothers. They wear the emblem, sewn on the cassock, that distinguishes them: a Heart printed on a cloth with the inscription “Rogate ergo Dominum messis ut mittat operarios in messem Suam.”
November 22, 1897
Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia instituted the “Sacred Priestly Alliance” to raise awareness among the clergy about the need to obey the Divine Command of Jesus “Rogate ergo messis Dominum…” and to encourage them to be zealous in spreading the prayer for Vocations.
December 8, 1900
Saint Hannibal Mary Di Francia instituted the “Pious Union of the Evangelical Rogation of the Heart of Jesus” in order to spread among the faithful the prayer for Vocations.
September 14, 1901
The Archbishop of Messina, Bishop Letterio D’Arrigo, approves the fi nal names of the two religious congregations: the “Rogationists the Heart of Jesus” and the “Daughters of Divine Zeal of the Heart of Jesus.”
December 28, 1908
At dawn, at approximately 5:20 am, a violent earthquake destroyed the city of Messina. Forced to seek refuge outside of Messina, he started the development of the Institution in all of Italy.
July 30, 1926
The Congregation for Religious, sent to Archbishop Angelo Paino, Archbishop of Messina, the Nulla Osta for the canonical erection of the two religious Congregations.
June 1, 1927
At 6.30 am, Father Hannibal died peacefully, assisted by Fr. Francesco Vitale and some Rogationist Religious.
October 7, 1990
Pope John Paul II proclaimed him Blessed.
May 16, 2004
Pope John Paul II enrolled him among rank of the Saints.