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Saint of the Day

Blessed Tommaso Reggio

January 9
Born in Genoa, Italy, 1818.
Died, 1901.

Son of the Marquis of Reggio and Angela Pareto. Felt a call to the priesthood at age 20; ordained on 18 September 1841. Vice-rector of the seminary in Genoa, Italy at age 25. Rector of the Chiavari seminary.

Helped found The Catholic Standard, the first Catholic newspaper. In 1865 the Standard and 25 other papers supported slates of Catholic candidates, hoping to found a Catholic political party. However, in 1874 Catholics were told they could not vote, and he closed the paper.

Bishop of Ventimiglia in 1877; the diocese was so poor, he had to travel on a mule. Opened new parishes, organized three synods and liturgical revival, set up teaching programs. Prayed every night from 3 to 6 a.m., and never let anyone see him worry. Founded the Sisters of Saint Martha in 1878, a congregation devoted to caring for the poor.

Following an earthquake in 1887, he worked with the injured in the rubble, and ordered his priests to use all resources to help the displaced. Founded orphanages at Ventimiglia and San Remo to house, educate, and train children who had lost their families in the quake.

In 1892 he asked the Pope to relieve him of his duties; the Pope appointed him archbishop of Genoa. The city was politically complex and tense, but his humble, open, pious generosity won over many, and people in and out of the Church came to him with problems. Set up a network to help immigrants, worked for Catholic lay associations, supported limited work hours and complete days off for working people - radical notions in those days. "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (Jas 1: 22). These words of the Apostle James make us think of the life and apostolate of Tommaso Reggio, a priest and journalist who later became Bishop of Ventimiglia and finally Archbishop of Genoa. He was a man of faith and culture, and as a Pastor he knew how to be an attentive guide to the faithful in every circumstance. Sensitive to the many sufferings and the poverty of his people, he took responsibility for providing prompt help in all situations of need. Precisely with this in mind, he founded the religious family of the Sisters of Saint Martha, entrusting to them the task of assisting the Pastors of the Church especially in the areas of charity and education.

His message can be summed up in two words: truth and charity. Truth, first of all, which means attentive listening to God's word and courageous zeal in defending and spreading the teachings of the Gospel. Then charity, which spurs people to love God and, for love of him, to embrace everyone since they are brothers and sisters in Christ. If there was a preference in Tommaso Reggio's choices, it was for those who found themselves in hardship and suffering. This is why he is presented today as a model for Bishops, priest and lay people, as well as for those who belong to his spiritual family.
- from the homily of Pope John Paul II at the beatification of Blessed Tommaso

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