Saturday 10 November 2001 marked the most important event that transpired in the life of the Daughters of Divine Zeal (FDZ) in Australia. On that day, the Relic of our Founder, Padre Annibale Maria Di Francia, touched the soil of Australia. The Relic had been accompanied by a Rogationist priest, Fr Carmelo Capizzi RCJ, who had come from Korea. Fr Carmelo and Sr Floriana Lapolla FDZ were the official escorts of the Relic while it toured Australia, visiting the places where the Daughters of Divine Zeal were ministering.
The Relic first came to the community of the FDZ Sisters in Richmond and, along with a number of friends, they welcomed the Relic with a sense of gratitude and awe. Moments later, all gathered together in the FDZ Chapel for a Welcome Liturgy.
Saint Annibale was a fan and devotee of St Anthony of Padua. He placed St Anthony as the celestial benefactor and protector of all his works of charity, especially among children. He even named his orphanages in honour of St Anthony and maintained a pious devotion to this saint as a regular observance of the Institutes he founded.
Hawthorn, a suburb adjacent to Richmond, is where the National Shrine of St Anthony of Padua is located. Feasts of different saints are celebrated in this Shrine and the portraits of many saints and blesseds are painted on the Shrine’s ceiling. On the occasion of the coming of Padre Annibale’s Relic to Australia, his portrait was added to those already there, with the permission from the Capuchin Fathers. Indeed, all the devotees of Blessed (as he was at the time) Annibale rejoiced as he joined the company. The first Mass in honour of Blessed Annibale was celebrated at St Anthony’s Shine on 10 November 2001 at 5:30pm.
On Sunday 11 November 2001, several Masses were celebrated at St Ignatius’ Church in Richmond in honour of Blessed Annibale. After the last Mass at 5:30pm, the Relic was brought in procession from the Church to the FDZ Chapel just across the road, under a drizzling sky. People who had attended the Mass at the Church formed part of the procession.
Sr Isabella Carlone FDZ, the Superior of the Daughters of Divine Zeal Community in Richmond at that time, expressed her gratitude to the people who had joined the Sisters’ community in celebrating the presence of the Founder’s Relic. She also shared the Mission that the Lord had entrusted to Blessed Annibale: to pray and work for more holy labourers in the Church.
As an expression of their homage to Blessed Annibale, the Sisters with several friends sang a song to our Founder: “How Wonderful You Are O Blessed Hannibal“. The song describes the blessed man’s heart that loves, especially the orphaned children and the poor. By his life and work he inspired men and women to
labour in love… Pray, pray for us, that we may keep God’s love forever burning… that in our hearts is His divine zeal
On Sunday 18 November 2001, a Mass in honour of Blessed Annibale was celebrated in Our Lady of Dolours Catholic Church in Chatswood, New South Wales, where the Daughters of Divine Zeal had been ministering to the community in the Parish.
The congregations attending these Masses around Australia had the privilege of kissing and venerating the Relic. There was also a “Book of Intentions” available for them to write their particular intentions through the intercession of Blessed Annibale. This book was later sent to Italy.
To this day, in the midst of this fast-changing world and advancing technologies, the Church still needs committed people to work for their brothers and sisters around the world. Let us, therefore,
Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to His harvest (Mt 9:38)
Do you have any memories of the visit of St Annibale’s Relic to Australia? Feel welcome to share them here or on our Facebook page.
- Bernadette for asking about the Relic’s visit to Australia
- Sr Cielo Tanio FDZ for her research in our community archives