Blessed LUIGI ORIONE: born at Pontecurone (Alessandria, North Italy)), died 12th March 1940 at Sanremo (Imperia), at 67 years of age, 36 of Religious Profession and 44 of Priesthood. Pope John Paul II declared him "blessed" on October 26th 1980
"Don Orione appears to us as a marvellous and creative expression of Christian charity. It is impossible to summarise in a few sentences the adventurous and sometimes dramatic life of one how called himself, humbly, but shrewdly: "God's porter". But we can state that he was doubtlessly one of the most outstanding personalities of this century, because of his openly professed Christian faith.
He was a joyful and complete Priest of Christ, going all over Italy and Latin America, consecrating his own life to those who suffer because of calamities, poverty and human misconduct. It is enough to recall his selfless work among the victims of the Messina and Marsica's earthquakes.
Poor among the poor, fired by love for Christ and for the more needy brothers, he founded the Little Work of Divine Providence, the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity and, later on, the Blind Sacramentine Sisters and the Hermits of Saint Albert. He also opened houses in Poland (1923), United States (1934) and England (1936), with a true ecumenical spirit. He wished to make his love for Mary real, by building the magnificent Shrine of Our Lady of Safe-Keeping, at Tortona.
Something I find very moving, is the particular affection that Don Orione had for Poland: he suffered greatly when my dear homeland was overrun and torn apart in September 1939. I know that the white-red Polish flag, that in those tragic days he triumphally carried in procession to the Shrine of Our Lady, is still hanging on the wall of his very poor room in Tortona: he wanted it there himself! And, in the last farewell talk he gave on the evening of March 8th, before going to Sanremo, where he was to die 4 days later, he said again: "I have loved the Polish people very much. I have loved them since I was a young boy, I have always loved them…. You must always love these brothers of yours".
Out of his very intense and dynamic life, there stand out the secret and the genius of Don Orione: he always and only let himself be guided by the tight logic of love! Boundless and total love for God, for Christ, for Mary, for the Church, for the Pope and equally absolute love for man, the whole man, soul and body, for all people, small and great, rich and poor, humble and wise, saints and sinners, with a particular benevolence and tenderness for the suffering, the outcast and the hopeless. This was his programme of action: "Our political programme is the great and divine charity that helps everyone. Our political philosophy is that of the Our Father. We look at nothing else but souls to save. Souls and souls! There is our whole life: this is our battle cry and our programme, our whole spirit and our whole heart". He would exclaim as if in a poem: "Christ is coming, carrying on his heart the Church and in his hands the tears and blood of the poor: the rights of the afflicted, oppressed, widows, orphans, humble and outcast. Behind Christ, new heavens open: it is like the dawn of God's triumph!".
He had the character and the heart of the Apostle Paul, kind-hearted and compassionate to he point of tears, tireless and courageous to the point of daring, bold and dynamic to the point of heroism, facing dangers of every kind, at ease with people in high positions of politics and culture, giving light to men without faith, converting sinners and always absorbed in continuous and trusting prayer, sometimes accompanied by harsh acts of penance. One year before dying he summed up the essential plan of his life: "To suffer, to be quiet, pray, love, be crucified and to adore". God is great in his Saints, and Don Orione remains as bright and comforting example of faith for all ".