02/24/2016, 10.13
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Rosetta and Giovanni Gheddo on the path to beatification

by Lia Lafronte

The postulator of the cause of beatification of the Gheddo spouses - parents of our Fr. Piero - explains the story of their journey of faith and the heroic virtues of their daily lives before and during their brief marriage. A testimony in favor of the family.


Milan (AsiaNews) - The couple Rosetta and Giovanni are known to the readers of AsiaNews because parents of our own Fr. Piero Gheddo, long-time editor of the magazine. They were declared servants of God in 2006. The two causes for their Beatification, almost continuing the Year of the Family in 2015, are moving aheadwith good prospects of reaching the final goal. The new Postulator for the Cause, lawyer Lia Lafronte, appointed by the archbishop of Vercelli Msgr. Marco Arnolfo about a year ago, speaks here in moving tones of how and why Rosetta and Giovanni deserve to be venerated and imitated as Blessed and Saints of the Church. "Today - writes Fr. Gheddo - the two causes are particularly in need of prayers, since everything is in the hands of God, and then also generous offerings to support them. God bless you".

In April 2010, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, for some procedural irregularities, blocked the Roman process of beatification and canonization causes of the Servants of God Rosetta Franzi and Giovanni Gheddo (which began in February 2006) and advised that the petition be supplemented and strengthened with more historical documents and further evidence.

Since it seemed that such further evidence could not be found, given the long period of time from the death of Gheddo spouses, the temporary blockage of the causes appeared final and the postulator of the time, Dr. Francesca Consolini, in June 2011 rencounced the mandate given to her in October 2004 by the Archbishop of Vercelli, Mons. Enrico Masseroni,.

Msgr. Marco Arnolfo, the current Archbishop, together with the Episcopal Vicar for Family Ministry, Msgr. Giuseppe Onda, appointed me postulator on February 18, 2015 in view of a possible resumption of the cause which, today, in light of the historical record that has been found and new evidence collected, can be considered forthcoming.

I am extremely grateful for and honored by the appointment and I thank the Lord not only for new evidence found but for allowing me to draw near, through study and research, to knowing the humble and simple servants of God, Rosetta and Giovanni. I have been able to appreciate their wonderful evangelical virtues, whose heroism I hope will soon be declared by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and, above all, I came to love both as good people and like loved ones who feel close to us.

The spirituality of the Gheddo spouses, apparent even before they were married, has struck me in a very profound way: it is impossible to summarize the inner richness and brightness of their faith that I perceived through oral testimony and through the historical documents that I have retrieved.

The strongest impression I had is that every small gesture in the lives of these servants of God, so amiable in their personality and perfectly inserted within the normality of family, parish and social life, that they could truly be called "everyday Saints”,  it is that even their smallest gesture - was characterized by love for God and His will: in joy, in sorrow, in sacrifice.

What also emerged was their adherence to the spirituality of Don Giovanni Bosco (theirs was purely Salesian territory at a time when the great saint’s life, works and death were still keenly felt death) and the full sharing of the three basic principles of Catholic Action, of which both were members: prayer, action and sacrifice.

Rosetta Franzi, was also a member of ADMA (Association of Devotees of Mary Help of Christians), was the daughter of Maria Roviera, for some years president of the women’s Catholic Action of Crova. She was the daughter of Francesco, a former student at the Salesian Institute of Turin Valdocco just a year after the death of Don Bosco.  He almost became a Salesian priest only for the sudden death of his father, who had called for his early return home to Crova. Rosetta was student and boarder, for years, at the Institute of the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians in Casale Monferrato, where she breathed and embraced not only the charism of Don Bosco but also that of Saint Maria Mazzarello, who founded the Salesian female institutes at the Saints request.

Giovanni, who was also inspired by the ideals of Don Bosco, whose life and spirituality was nourished through detailed readings and meditation, was a vibrant young man and active in the Catholic Action of Tronzano, where in the years 1923-1928 he was president of the Young Circle 'Don Abbondo' (Tronzano parish priest who will be beatified in the cathedral of Vercelli June 12, 2016), remaining registered among adults from his marriage until 1943, when his sister Adelaide enrolled him hoping for his return from Russia.

The voluntary gift of life made by  Giovanni in Russia, in December 1942, recalls the third cornerstone of Catholic Action, that of sacrifice, which had also characterized - although in different ways - the death of Blessed Fr. Secondo Pollo, Diocesan Youth Assistant of Catholic Action Vercelli, who also died in the war, in 1941, hit while trying to rescue a wounded man. A great example of a Catholic, Giovanni, as an artillery captain gave up his life for his faithfulness to God and to his ideals and did not betray the great Association to which he belonged even when, forty-two, sick, a widower and father of three small children, he was sent to the front line out of pure persecution by the fascist party, with which he had refused to register.

I would like to express what I felt visiting the grave of Rosetta, in the Tronzano Vercellese cemetery. I was deeply moved at the thought that this sweet little mother, who died so young, leaving three children for whom she had dreamed with her husband a future of faith and charity (on her wedding day, at the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Oropa, she had asked for the grace that at least one or one of their children would be a priest or nun).  Her body was found to be still intact, uncorrupted, during the exhumation thirty years after  her death (1964): given that the area is the land of rice fields, whose moist climate is absolutely incompatible, in normal circumstances, with the preservation of a body whose heart had stopped beating because of a premature childbirth and incurable pneumonia.

I am convinced, like other great saints, that this discovery was a sign of Rosetta’s holiness. And there, in front of her, while I was praying, I thought of the words of the Crova parish priest and confessor of the Servant of God, Father Giuseppe Oglietti, during her funeral Mass: "Rosetta was an angel, a saint and is already in Heaven. We are not celebrating the Mass of the dead, rather we are singing of the Angels ".

Seeing the picture of Giovanni on the tombstone, under that of Rosetta, I was struck instead by the thought of his being buried somewhere in a foreign land. He is lost in the cold, on the banks of the Don: He fell into enemy hands as he tried to save the life of a soldier who was to have died in his place.

A body gifted for love of other, in the Lord, that of Giovanni, and a body preserved from corruption, by the Lord, that of Rosetta. Two particular destinies bonded by a mystical connection.

The spiritual closeness that I felt was both great and real, as real as the same life they lived. I understood that Giovanni only lost his body, nothing else. Together they had lived on earth and together they were and are in heaven. I saw them together and, with greatly moved, I felt and I feel myself their daughter, like so many other people who have learned to love them.

I realized that the second wish expressed at the Oropa Sanctuary, to have 12 children, was not forgotten but only delayed and multiplied in the divine plan that not only considers motherhood and fatherhood as physical but also, and above all, spiritual.

Here is the simple and genuine prayer that sprung from the soul of Rosetta, who was very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Most Precious Blood, that I, his spiritual daughter, have made my own: "O Holy Blood that has been shed, oh Sacred Blood have pity! Open heart of Christ, Heart full of goodness! I pray grant me this grace I ask of you!".

Now we all pray, we who we love Rosetta and Giovanni, so that their Cause of Beatification and Canonization will soon resume and be concluded well. Let us entrust ourselves to the Servants of God to intercede for the Lord to answer our prayers and give an unequivocal sign, a miracle, so that their holiness can soon be officially recognized by the Church.

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