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St. John Baptist Scalabrini

Saint John Baptist Scalabrini

Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, or known as Saint John Scalabrini was the Father of the Migrants due to his contribution regarding the welfare and security of migrants. Saint John Scalabrini was born on July 8, 1839, at Fino Mornasco Italy. He was the third child (out of eight) of Luigi Scalabrini and Colomba Trombetta, and baptized at the Parish Church of Fino Mornasco. 

The childhood of Saint John Scalabrini already reflects the life that he will pursue. He often recited the Angelus and during October, he recited it at the Como Cathedral, and during his adolescence, he was able to write a poem that reflects and praises the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Saint John Scalabrini was a devotee of Saint Joseph, Francis de Sales, and Charles Borromeo. 

Saint John Scalabrini excelled in school and was regarded as having a wonderful mind. Due to his scholastic excellence and passion in science and foreign languages, he was the top student and was able to enroll at the Liceo Volta college in Como. Blessed John Scalabrini continued his philosophical and theological studies in the fall of 1857, the same year that he was appointed prefect of the boarding school Gallio College, where Saint Luigi Guanella was enrolled and later became his pupil.

Saint John Scalabrini acquired the tonsure on June 1, 1860. He then obtained the first two minor orders on December 21, 1860, and the second two on May 24, 1861. On June 14, 1862, in Bergamo, he was elevated to the subdiaconate, and on September 12, 1862, he was ordained as a deacon. He received his priestly ordination on May 30, 1863, and was appointed pastor of the St. Bartholomew parish in 1870. He was consecrated a bishop on January 30, 1876, at Rome, and on February 13, 1876, Pope Pius IX welcomed him to the Diocese of Piacenza.

As Saint John Scalabrini began his journey as the Bishop, he conducted five diocesan visitations and visited all the 365 parishes, through foot or mule, as the place was mountainous. Dedicated to serve, Saint John Scalabrini was not hindered by these circumstances, despite the first visitation he had done (November 4, 1876 to August 28, 1880) were quite a bit exhausting. During his first visitation, Scalabrini discovered that 11% of the members in the community was an emigrant, motivating him to do a second visitation.  

Saint John Scalabrini became notable in his founded magazine “The Catholic Catechist,” which was considered as the first Italian catechetical magazine on July 5, 1876, published also in the same year issued the book “Catholic Catechism.”

In 1887, Saint John Scalabrini founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, with the aim to maintain the Catholic faith and practice among Italian emigrants in the New World, that ensures that the moral, civil, and economical welfare were being practice and provide priests for the emigrants, and committees an advice and practical direction towards the needs of the poor Italians newly arrived in foreign ports. 

On March 19, 1889, Saint John Scalabrini established the St. Raphael Lay Association for Assistance to Migrants, with the objective of providing comfort and help them find friends, telegraph their relatives for railroad tickets or itinerary, and  facilitate their landing, and on October 25, 1895 Saint John Scalabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles, a female religious order.

Saint John Scalabrini underwent an operation after a period of ill health, accepting that there’s a possibility that his health may soon get worse. On May 5, 1905, Saint John Scalabrini planned his sixth pastoral visitation, asked all the priests to give the Eucharist to all parishioners, preparing himself towards the planned visitation despite his declining health. Saint John Scalabrini concluded his fifth visitation on May 21, 1905, but his condition started to get worse. He spent his night in Eucharistic adoration and confession on May 27 before his operation on May 28, 1905. The doctors believed that a miracle happened as he was able to recover from the operation and asked for the Anointing of the Sick on May 31, and as his condition deteriorated, Saint John Scalabrini repeated the phrase “God’s will be done.” 

Saint John Scalabrini died on June 1, 1905 (5:03 AM) with the last words “Lord, I am ready, let us go” with the record of 60 pastoral letters and approximately 2000 pages worth of homilies. He was approved to be beatified by Saint Pope John Paul II on July 7, 1997 and beatified on November 9, 1997 in Saint Peter’s Square witnessed by Piacenza bishop Luciano Monari. On October 9, 2022 he was Canonized by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square. Saint John Scalabrini became the Patron of Catholic Action, Migrants and his feast is being celebrated on June 1.