Priest and Founder (1848-1923)
+ Filippo was born in Naples, Italy. While in seminary, he began working with deaf-mutes and, following ordination, he continued this special ministry.
+ Although he faced many challenges in his work, including falling into despair because of the challenges his students endured, he persevered and eventually founded a school for the deaf in Lecce, Italy.
+ Father Filippo trained a group of religious women to serve in the school and these later formed a new religious community: the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts.
+ Having a missionary’s heart, Father Filippo would go on to extend his mission to include the blind, orphans, and abandoned children. To support his work and expand his mission, he founded the Eucharistic League of Priest Adorers and the Eucharistic League of Women Adorers.
+ Saint Filippo Smaldone died on June 4, 1923, and was canonized in 2006.
Among the patron saints of the deaf is Saint Francis de Sales. Most commonly known as the patron saint of spiritual directors because of his common sense approach to spirituality for the common person, he is said to have developed a simple system of sign language to help a deaf man come to know God. Saint Francis de Sales is honored on January 24.
“From [Saint Filippo’s] example we welcome the invitation to consider the ever-indivisible love for the Eucharist and love for one’s neighbor. But the true capacity to love the brethren can come only from meeting with the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.”—Pope Benedict XVI
O God, light of the faithful and shepherd of souls,
who set (the Bishop) blessed N. in the Church
to feed your sheep by his words and form them by his example,
grant that through his intercession
we may keep the faith he taught by his words
and follow the way he showed by his example.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.