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The 5 people beatified in 2020


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Meg Hunter-Kilmer - published on 12/31/20

With the restrictions from the pandemic, most beatifications and all canonizations were postponed.

Given the ban on large gatherings for much of 2020, it comes as no great surprise that there have been no canonizations held this year. Beatifications, too, have been slowed, with only five people declared Blessed since the year began.

Aleteia readers will likely be quite familiar with Blessed Carlo Acutis (the 15-year-old Italian computer programmer) and Blessed Michael McGivney (the Connecticut priest who founded the Knights of Columbus), but the others are worth getting to know as well.

Blessed Maria Luigia Velotti (1826-1896) was an Italian religious founder. Orphaned as a toddler, Maria Luigia was sent to live with an unmarried aunt who ultimately became abusive. Mercifully, Maria Luigia was later adopted by a childless couple who encouraged her in her pursuit of holiness (instead of piling chores on the child to keep her from prayer, as her aunt had done). As an adult, she took vows as a Third Order Franciscan, though various circumstances required her to move between various private homes and religious communities for 20 years. During that time, Sr. Maria Luigia had many mystical experiences, as well as great suffering at the hand of demons. Though she was nearly illiterate, Sr. Maria Luigia had great wisdom, and just before turning 50 she founded a new community: the Franciscan Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross, dedicated to the education of girls. Mother Maria Luigia suffered greatly from chronic illness while continuing to grow in mystical gifts such as the ability to read souls and heal people. She died just before turning 60.

Blessed Olinto Marella (1882-1969) was an Italian priest, the classmate of the future Pope St. John XXIII and the nephew of an archbishop. His connections availed him little when, five years after his priestly ordination, he chose to allow the excommunicated Romolo Morri entrance into his home. (Morri was an Italian priest who was accused of modernism and excommunicated for nearly 45 years; his excommunication was lifted shortly before his death.) Fr. Marella had been considered suspect in some quarters because of his direct service to the poor and homeless; once it was clear that he had not cut ties with his friend Morri, Fr. Marella’s priestly faculties were suspended and he was ordered to live as a layman. Though Marella regretted his choice to welcome Morri, there was nothing he could do about his sentence. He spent the next 16 years living as a teacher, a soldier, and a student, always seeking holiness and submitting humbly to the Church he loved, though the Church seemed to have abandoned him. Finally, the Bishop of Bologna offered him a home and a return to ministry, which Fr. Marella gladly took. He spent the rest of his life making trouble for fascists and Nazis and those who abuse the poor and oppressed, founding many social institutions that exist to this day. During World War II he rescued Jews and soldiers, a father bound for a firing squad and a Sister in trouble with the SS (an incident that required him to bilocate). He was a close friend of Pietro Molla and was at the deathbed of St. Gianna Molla.

Blessed Joan Roig i Diggle (1917-1936) was a 19-year-old Catalán layman who had hoped to become a missionary. His mother was worried about the danger this might pose (not knowing that Spain was about to become far more deadly than any foreign land) and attempted to convince Joan not to pursue a missionary vocation. The young man set his sights on the law, but family financial difficulties led him to labor as a store clerk and a warehouse worker instead of going to university. He volunteered in youth ministry and began bringing the Eucharist to the infirm and the elderly. As the political situation in Spain became increasingly tense, Joan published an article denouncing fascism and communism, knowing the danger he was putting himself in. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he spent some time in hiding before returning to work to provide for his mother. A daily communicant, Joan obtained permission to keep the Eucharist in his home so that he would be able to distribute it more easily during a time when most priests were in hiding, in prison, or in the grave. Six months after the war began, members of the militia arrived to arrest him. Joan consumed the hosts he had in his home, then turned to his mother as he was dragged away. His last words were, “God is with me.” He was martyred the next morning shortly before dawn.

Joan Roig Diggle

Read more:
Spanish teenager beatified as martyr

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