Oil Dedicated to St Giovanni Calabra
St Giovanni Calabra was born in Verona, Italy on 8 October 1873. The youngest of seven sons to Luigi Calabria and Angela Foschi. His mother taught by the Venerable Nicola Mazza.
His education interrupted due to the death of his father in 1882. It was around this time that the rector of San Lorenzo Pietro Scapini saw Calabria’s potential. Became his private tutor in order to prepare him for the examination that would determine. He could commence his studies for the priesthood.
The death of his father saw him drop out of school to become an apprentice. He entered but forced to drop out due to service with the armed forces. He converted fellow soldiers and was known for his faith and show of devotions.
Calabria was ordained as a priest on 11 August 1901 and was then appointed as a confessor and also the curate of Saint Stephen’s church. He became the rector of San Benedetto del Monte also in 1907.
On 17 April 1910 he established the Poor Sisters Servants of Divine Providence. The first members of that congregation made their vows on 13 December 1911 and appointed Maria Galbraith (1874-1917) as the first superior of the order. It received diocesan approval on 25 March 1952 before receiving papal approval decades later on Christmas in 1981.
He had a great friend and admirer in the Giulio Facibeni and on 8 September 1943 – during World War II – helped hide the Jewish doctor Mafalda Pavia near Verona among his female congregation; the doctor assumed the name of Sister Beatrice and spent eighteen months there while disguised as a sister. He also corresponded in Latin with the noted author C.S. Lewis.
Calabria died on 4 December 1954 and on 3 December offered himself to God to die in the place of the ill Pius XII. The pope rallied and learned of Calabria’s death and sent an official telegram of condolence.