On the Feast Day of St Annibale Maria Di Francia today, we pause to recall and celebrate his life and love for God and neighbour…
Annibale was born in Messina on the 5th of July, 1851. His parents were Francesco Di Francia and Anna Toscano. He was the third of four children and his father died when he was two years old. When he was eighteen he felt called by the Lord to the priesthood.
My calling was sudden, irresistible yet sure…
He was ordained a priest on the 16th of March in 1878, in the Church of the Holy Spirit. While still a deacon, he met a poor blind man called Francesco Zancone. For Fr. Annibale this meeting was providential. He discovered the Avignone district, the poorest in Messina, Italy, and he remained there. His charity would transform that place into a holy land and that populace into a people of God.
Love for God and one’s neighbour became the norm that ruled his Christian and priestly life to the point of heroism. Animated by the Holy Spirit, he regarded as a most effective means for the salvation of humanity, the command pointed out by Jesus himself with the words:
The harvest is great but the workers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send workers to His harvest (Mt. 9:38; Lk. 10:2)
Convinced that was the answer to humanity’s salvation, he strived to make it a universal prayer.
He founded two Congregations: the Daughters of Divine Zeal and the Rogationist Fathers, entrusting them with the mission to pray, spread prayer for vocations, and to be good workers themselves first of all.
On 01 June 1927, St Annibale died in Messina, Italy.
On the occasion of his beatification on the 7th of October in 1990, Pope John Paul II described Fr. Annibale as an anticipator and precursor of the modern pastoral care of vocations. (A Vocation for all Vocations, p.26)
Prayer to obtain graces
Divine Heart of Jesus,
you have chosen St. Annibale Maria Di Francia
to be an apostle of prayer for vocations
and you have filled him with so much charity
to make him the Father of the Orphans and the Poor.
Grant me the strength to imitate
his example and his virtues
and grant me, through his intercession,
the grace/graces that I desire: ______________________________________.
Grant that this request may be for Your glory
and for the greater good of my soul.
Let us further pray:
O God, Omnipotent and Eternal, who in St. Annibale Maria Di Francia, have given to people an eminent Apostle of Prayer for Vocations and a true father of the orphans and the poor, through his merits and intercession send many and holy labourers of the Gospel in your harvest and grant that we, inflamed by the same fire of charity, may follow his teaching and example. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SEND, O LORD, HOLY APOSTLES INTO YOUR CHURCH!
Happy Feast Day!