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St Gaetano Catanoso

Founded orphanage for WWII orphans

Public Domain

Priest and Founder of the Sisters of the Holy Face:  1879-1963

His life

+ Gaetano was born into a family of wealthy landowners in Reggio Calabria, Italy. 

+ Ordained a priest in 1902, he served as a parish priest for the rest of his life, first in a remote mountain village and, later, in a large parish in the region’s capital city. As a pastor, he would often walk or ride a mule into the mountains to be available for all his parishioners, no matter how poor or isolated they were.

+ To support his ministry, he founded the Daughters of St. Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face, a small community dedicated to serving the poor, including children and youth, praying for priests, and to offering prayers of reparation for the sins of the world. In 1943, Saint Gaetano founded an orphanage to care for children orphaned during World War II.

+ Saint Gaetano had a strong devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus and to the Eucharist. He revived Marian and Eucharistic devotions in his parishes and improved catechetical programs. His people remember his contemplative spirit and his time spent in prayer before the tabernacle. 

+ After a long illness, and completely blind, Saint Gaetano died on April 4, 1963. He was canonized in 2005.

Worth knowing

As a desire to promote catechesis and to make the sacraments available, Saint Gaetano organized groups of priests—whom he called “flying squads”—to cooperate in parishes by offering missions, preaching sermons, and hearing confessions.


“Let us all work to defend and save the orphans, those who are abandoned. There are too many dangers and there is too much misery. With Jesus let us turn our gaze to abandoned children and youth.”—Saint Gaetano Catanoso


O God, light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, 
who set blessed Gaetano 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 Silas Henderson

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