Somascan priest who risked life among those decreed Servant of God

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A miracle through the intercession of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen has been approved which clears his way to beatification. Photo: CNS
A miracle through the intercession of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen has been approved which clears his way to beatification. Photo: CNS

In an audience with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis has approved the canonisation of a 16th century Portuguese archbishop, recognised the heroic virtues of a woman and six men, and approved a miracle through the intercession of the Venerable Fulton Sheen.

The once-popular US television evangelist and former Bishop of Rochester is now clear for beatification.

Among the six men proclaimed a Servant of God was Italian Archbishop of Reggio Calabria-Bova, Dom Giovanni Ferro of the Clerics Regular of Somasca (Somascan Fathers) who died on Holy Saturday in April 1992.

Italian Archbishop of Reggio Calabria-Bova, Dom Giovanni Ferro of the Clerics Regular of Somasca were among the six men proclaimed a Servant of God on 5 July. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Italian Archbishop of Reggio Calabria-Bova, Dom Giovanni Ferro of the Clerics Regular of Somasca were among the six men proclaimed a Servant of God on 5 July. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

During World War II in Italy, the then-Father Ferro who cared for the poor and displaced risked his life in hiding a Jewish man named Roberto Furcht from the S.S.

He also kept hidden some of Benito Mussolini’s family who were in fear of an attack by partisans after the dictator’s death.

As Archbishop of Reggio Calabria-Bova, he constructed new parishes, schools and sporting facilities as well as oversaw the repair of the Archdiocesan Cathedral.

After widespread floods devastated the region in the beginning of the 1950s, Archbishop Ferro assisted the victims and offered the episcopal residence as a place for them to live.

With the Venerable Dom Giovanni Ferro on the path to sainthood, he will be the second Somascan religious to become a saint after the congregation’s founder St Jerome Emiliani.

The Somascan Fathers took to Facebook to share the joyful news of Pope Francis’ recognition of the heroic virtues of Dom Giovanni.

“This is an extremely important step in the beatification and canonisation process,” the post read.

Brother Bartholomew of the Martyrs, bishop of Braga, by António André (1618-25). Museu de Aveiro, Portugal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Brother Bartholomew of the Martyrs, bishop of Braga, by António André (1618-25). Museu de Aveiro, Portugal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

“From now on Don Giovanni Ferro is recognised as Venerable and the future news of his beatification awaits with joy.”

The others decreed Servants of God were Elias Hoyek (Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites), Bishop Angel Riesco Carbajo (founder of the Institute of the Missionaries of Charity), Polish father Władysław Korniłowicz, Angelico Lipani (founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Lord), Francisca of the Holy Spirit (foundress of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena) and Étienne Pierre Morlanne (founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Maternal Charity).

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