Thursday, March 5, 2009

Problem partly solved

It is always good to have a score of helpful and informed readers! Thanks to "PB" we now know who one of the two mystery-men from yesterday's photo is. The prelate with the exceptionally long beard is Jean-Félix de Hemptinne, apostolic vicar to the Congo from 1932 to 1958. I should have known this because I already presented him in an earlier post in January.

The other prelate still is not identified, although one reader mentioned that he looks a lot like the Salesian Saint Luigi Versiglia. Of course it cant be him, though, since he was martyred in 1930 and our photo was apparently taken during the council.

Still, the similarity prompted another reader to send in some photos of the martyr, which I gladly present here:

Here is some information on the Saint: Luigi Versiglia (1873 - 1930) was born at Oliva Gessi (Pavia, Italy) in 1873. At the age of 12 he went to study at Turin-Valdocco - on condition he didn't become a priest! But God's grace, the thoroughly religious atmosphere, the enthusiasm for the missions and of course the charm and sanctity of Don Bosco, by now in his last years, transformed the boy's soul. One day he heard the Saint of Youth say: "Come and see me; I've something to say to you". The meeting never took place owing to Don Bosco's death, but he'd been won over all the same and so after his studies he asked simply 'to stay with Don Bosco', fostering in his heart the secret hope of one day setting out as a missionary.

He studied philosophy and theology in Rome, but all the while he gave an important pastoral service in the Sacred Heart Oratory near the city's main railway station Stazione Termini. He became a teacher and novices' assistant at Foglizzo near Turin. He was always an effective 'shaper' of personalities, loving and a good friend to all. At the age of thirty three he went to China as leader of a small group of Salesians. In 1920 he was consecrated bishop and appointed Vicar Apostolic of Schiu Chow.

In 1929 Bishop Versiglia ordained Callistus Caravario as a Salesian priest at Schiu Chow. He had been born at Cuorgnè near Turin and he, too, had studied at Turin-Valdocco. There in 1922 he had met the bishop and promised him, "I'll follow you to China". And so he did. On 23rd February 1930 they set out together on a long apostolic journey. But two days later they met their deaths together at the hands of communist bandits.

They were killed because they were Catholic missionaries who were preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and also because they had protected some young female catechists travelling with them, whom the bandits wanted to carry into slavery. These two Salesian martyrs died not only for their faith in Christ, but also for defending human dignity. Pope John Paul II declared them saints in Rome on 1st October 2000,

Tanks to A.J. Garcia for the pictures!


Calvin said...

I believe these photos were taken in China.

AJG said...

The 1st photo was taken on January 1921 in Canton a few weeks after his Episcopal Ordination.

The 2nd photo was taken in Shiuchow
with the boys school band. I believe the priest to the right is Fr. Callistus Caravario.

The 3rd photo was taken with the Cristians of Liu Tong

The 4th one was taken in the Chapel of San Guiseppe in Hos-sai while His Excellency was teaching catechism to orphans.

And the last photo was taken in 1926, again in Hos-sai with the orphans taken under the care of the Salesian Mission.