VATICAN - Heroic virtues of Cardinal Guglielmo Massaja, among the greatest missionaries of the nineteenth century

Friday, 2 December 2016 missionaries

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Yesterday, 1 December, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorized the Congregation to promulgate several decrees, including one regarding the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Guglielmo Massaja, of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Cardinal, born on June 8, 1809 and died on August 6, 1889.
Cardinal Guglielmo Massaja is considered among the greatest missionaries of the nineteenth century: he was the first to evangelize the tribal people of the Galla, in southern Ethiopia, to study its culture and to promote a series of social works. Born on June 8, 1809 in Piovà d'Asti (today Piovà Massaja in memory of its illustrious citizen), he took the Capuchin habit at 17 and was ordained a priest in 1832. Since his ordination he proved to be a strong supporter of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which supported Catholic missions. On April 26, 1846 Pope Gregory XVI created the Apostolic Vicariate of the Galla and just days after was entrusted to Massaja.
Consecrated Bishop in Rome, he left Italy on the night of June 2, 1846 to face a journey that lasted six years before reaching the Galla people. From 1852 to 1879 (with only one interval of 2 years in Europe) Massaja founded several missions, established the first Ethiopian Catholic monasticism, wrote the first catechism in Galla language, consecrated three Bishops, confronted the clergy and with the Ethiopian Muslim presence, favored scientific explorations, spread prophylaxis among the population against smallpox and carried out surgeries thanks to the practical experience gained in his youth.
Exiled in 1879 by Theodore II, he returned to Italy and settled in the convent of Frascati, where at the invitation of Pope Leo XIII (who created him Cardinal) wrote his autobiography in 12 volumes. On August 6, 1889 he died in San Giorgio a Cremano (Naples). The process of canonization was initiated in 1914 and came to a stop for about 70 years. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 02/12/2016)