Fr Clemente Vismara beatified in Milan’s cathedral square
by Bernardo Cervellera
Fr Serafino Morazzone and Sister Enrichetta Alfieri are also beatified. Card Tettamanzi holds them up as examples of the “greatness” of “Evangelical smallness”. All offerings made will go to rebuild the Moglin orphanage destroyed in last March’s earthquake.
Milan (AsiaNews) – A long applause that lasted several minutes welcomed the proclamation of three new Blessed in the square in front of Milan’s cathedral. They are Serafino Morazzone (1742-1822), a Milanese clergyman who was parish priest in Chiuso (Lecco), nicknamed the “ante-litteram curate of Ars”; Sister Enrichetta Alfieri (1891-1951), from the Sisters of Charity of Saint Jeanne Antide, who for years was involved in pastoral work in the city prisons and brought reconciliation before, during and after the Second World War; and Fr Clemente Vismara (1897-1988), a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) and known as the “patriarch of Burma”, where he lived for 65 years.
At the start of the celebration, brief biographies of the three Blessed were presented. Fr Vismara’s was read by Fr Piero Gheddo, who was for a long time the postulator of his cause. Fr Gheddo quoted Fr Clemente himself who had said, “Life is about bursting, going forward. Life is beautiful when it is given.”
In the beatification formula, read by Card Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the three Blessed are described as follows. Fr don Serafino Morazzone was a “humble pastor, completely devoted to serving the flock that was given to him, a shining example of prayer, charity and poverty. Sister Enrichetta was an “Angel in prison, witness to God’s infinite mercy towards his children with complete trust in the hope of their redemption.” Fr Clemente was “the indefatigable announcer and witness of the Lord Jesus in the lands of the Orient, defender of the last among the poor and the sick.”
The invited guests included bishops, deacons, and priests from Myanmar and Thailand as well as former convicts and members of Italy’s Alpine troops (Alpini) who provided volunteer services for the 10,000 faithful who travelled to Milan from around the diocese and the rest of Italy.
In his homely, Card Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan, stressed the “greatness of the Evangelical smallness” that shines in the three Blessed, all of whom led a humble and simple life, and yet were able to move hearts.
“The Eucharist’s surprising grace,” Card Tettamanzi said, “namely God’s selfless love that never stops giving, continues to exert its mysterious force of attraction even in a world like ours that is apparently distracted and indifferent, but which in reality is thirsty of reconciliation and unity, needful of the type of simple but real charity that knows how to transform the normality of daily life into small acts like smiling, showing friendship and uttering words of consolation”. Quoting Fr Vismara, he said, “Life is radiant from the moment in which we start to give it. . . . Only love makes life win.”
In order to make the love that “makes life win” even more real, the Beatification Committee proposed that the offerings collected during Mass would go to rebuild Fr Vismara’s first mission, i.e. his orphanage, church and house in Moglin. All the buildings were destroyed in an earthquake that hit Myanmar on 24 March this year.
At the end of the communion, a group of Burmese nuns and lay people sang a Eucharistic song in their language.
Before the end the ceremony, Card Amato spoke again, stressing some aspects of the life of the three new Blessed. He concluded, saying that “They reflect God’s goodness, but also the ripened fruit of a civilisation of love that made our nation famous around the world. When we speak of charity, our Blessed do not peddle false money. On their lips, the word ‘love’ has the true resonance of those who spend their existence building day after day a better and more humane society. . . . It is a lesson of life that we must all rediscover since [today] we are numbed by false slogans coming out of a fatuous environment that extols transgression and mocks those who, in the family and society, build, in joy and pain, the true future of our society with an existence based on honesty, love and God’s Commandments.”