03/19/2019, 22.05
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Pope: Father Alfredo Cremonesi, PIME missionary will be blessed

Francis authorizes the publication of the decree recognizing his martyrdom. He spent almost 30 years in the mountains of Myanmar, where he was killed in 1953. Fr. Brambillasca: A joy for the whole Institute, the Church of Myanmar and the Church of Cremona.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Father Alfredo Cremonesi, a PIME priest, will be proclaimed blessed. Today, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to publish the decree recognizing that he was "killed in hatred of the Faith in the village of Donoku (Myanmar) on 7 February 1953".

Fr. Ferruccio Brambillasca, Superior General of PIME, told AsiaNews: "The news brings joy to the whole Institute, the Church of Myanmar and the Church of Crema, which has worked intensely for this beatification. Fr. Cremonesi, missionary in Myanmar , is one of the many witnesses of our Institute who has worked for many years and with dedication in this beautiful land of Asia: may the new Blessed help us all to rediscover the uniqueness of the missionary vocation, in the year in which we will celebrate the extraordinary missionary month of Missions".

Alfredo Cremonesi was born May 15, 1902 in Ripalta Guerina (Cremona). First of seven brothers - one of whom, Ernesto, died in a Nazi concentration camp - of weak constitution. Suffering from lymphatic and blood disease, during high school he had to spend long periods in bed, in the diocesan seminary of Crema, without any hope of recovery, so much so that it seemed impossible for him to fulfill his desire to become a missionary. Instead, he healed perfectly. He was certian of this: he had entrusted himself to Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus.

Thus in 1922, at the age of twenty, he began attending the third year of theology in the seminary for the Foreign Missions of Milan and on 12 October 1924 he was ordained a priest by Msgr. Giovanni Menicatti, of PIME. Exactly one year later he left for Burma. He would remian there for his entire life.

Having arrived November 10, 1925 in Toungoo, Fr. Alfredo spent one  year studying local language and customs. Then the bishop entrusted him with a new district and Donoku, a village lost in the mountains. It was the base camp for many of his expeditions among pagan and Catholic villages. His enthusiasm was great, but youth and impatience soon lead him to having ti take stock of his frailty: "I tell you the truth - he writes - I often surprise myself by crying like a child, when I think of how much good I must do and my absolute poverty, which immobilizes me, and not just once, crushed under the weight of discouragement, I asked the Lord would it not be better for me to die rather than be a worker so forcibly inactive ". And yet, precisely in his relationship of profound intimacy with God, he found the strength to go on.

In fact, he is a missionary especially with prayer. "We missionaries - he writes years later - we are really nothing. Ours is the most mysterious and marvelous work that is given to man not to perform, but to see: to see souls who convert is the greatest of all miracles”.

In 1941, during the Second World War, when the Japanese arrived on Burmese territory, the British interned the missionaries in concentration camps in India, except for the six elders who were there for more than ten years. Among these is Fr. Cremonesi, who remains in Moso 'until the end of the war, utterly alone and destitutute of everything.

Until 8 September 1943, Italian missionaries were treated by Japanese soldiers as friends, but later they became their worst enemies. "We were robbed of everything. Not even a hen among us". “I was then taken, the last month of the war, by an extremely cruel officer, who commanded the last Japanese teams which, judging by appearances, must have been made up of thieves and murderers freed from prison and left for the last slaughter . I was tied up for a night and a day in their camp, and then, I don't know by what miracle, I was released. Then I had to run away and take refuge in the woods. On that occasion I was robbed of everything again. My Christians scrabbled a few plates, a spoon, a little rice, they gave me one of their blankets and in this way I survived to the end of the war ".

In early January 1947, Burma now freed from the Japanese invasion and independent of England, Fr. Alfred returned to Donoku. With renewed enthusiasm he began to rebuild everything that had been devastated. He taught catechism and also English, assisted and healed the sick, resumed his pastoral activities. But soon new trials arrived. Burma had achieved independence, but the central government encountered major obstacles: the Carian tribes, and in particular those formed by Protestant Baptists. Catholics, who remained loyal to the government, were not even protected by the largely Buddhist army. Father Cremonesi, following a rebel raid in the village of Donoku, was forced to take refuge in Toungoo. For Easter 1952, as a pact of non-aggression between the rebels and the government was stipulated, he dared to return to Donoku. But peace was short-lived. Although defeated, the rebels carried out continuous raids, and the anger of regular troops against Carian villages, now suspected of favoring the rebels indiscriminately, was furious. 

So Fr. Alfredo, in order to assist his Christians, shared all in their dangers. He obtained  a pass to be able to move more freely between both sides, but by then even the government suspected him becaue of his insistance in working in the guerrilla zone. Thus, after the failure of a military operation with which the regular army intended to finally eliminate teh rebel presence in he region, the government troops, during the retreat, raided the village of Donoku, accusing Fr. Cremonese and the villagers of aiding the rebels. The father's conciliatory words  were of no use, as he tried to explain and reassure, defending the innocence of his people. Blinded by anger, the soldiers did not even leave him time to finish the speech. They respond with gunfire. It was February 7th 1953.

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