Vatican Beatifies Italian Priest

News: Investigations
by Richard Ducayne  •  •  May 23, 2016   

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COSENZA, Italy ( - The Vatican beatified Fr. Francesco Maria Greco, an Italian diocesan priest who founded the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, Saturday in Cosenza, Italy.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Mass, attended by 22 bishops, 700 religious and about 15,000 faithful.

Francesco Maria Greco was born in Acri in 1857 to Raffaele Greco and Concetta Pancaro as the second of five children; one brother was Filippo Greco.

Father Greco served as a priest from a town in Southern Italy called Acri. Living and working there in the late 1800s, the priest realized that ignorance about religion was one of the most problematic issues his parishioners and townspeople faced.

His father wanted his son to work with him, but he desired to follow a religious path. He started his studies in Calabria and was eventually ordained to the priesthood on December 17, 1881. He obtained a doctorate in theology in Naples, Italy later and started teaching seminarians as a professor.

In 1887, the priest was appointed as pastor of the San Nicolo parish in Acri, where he organized the opening of a hospital named Caritas. He also opened a catechetical school and a center for adolescent children in the parish the next year, and several years later served as a theology professor in the city of Bisignano.

In 1894, alongside Servant of God Raffaele De Vincenti, the priest started the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart to evangelize and promote the Sacred Heart devotion. The order would spread rapidly in Europe to Albania while even reaching places as far as India, Asia and South America.

The archbishop of Cosenza, Camillo Sorgente, approved the order on a local level in 1902, and Pope Pius XII granted papal assent to the same order following the death of Greco in 1940.

Pope Francis spoke about the priest Sunday following the Angelus. "Between the 19th and 20th centuries, he fostered the religious life and the social life of his city, Acri, where he carried out the whole of his fruitful ministry. Let us give thanks to God for this exemplary priest."


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