Thursday, 22 December 2016 18:26

Devoted to Love

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Today I would like to talk to you about the first married couple that has been beatified in the history of the church: Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quatrocchi. They were beatified by St. John Paul II on Sunday, October 21, 2001; the same day that the 20th Anniversary of the apostolic exhortation, “Familiaris Consortio”, was celebrated, that showed the role of the family in our society in the modern days.

Luigi was born in Catania on January 12, 1880. Although his two siblings remained with his parents, he was given away to his aunt, who could not have any children. Despite this, he did not lose contact with his biological parents. 

Despite Luigi being “an only child”, he was not spoiled. He was raised by his new parents with a lot of responsibilities and was also brilliant in his studies. As an adult, Luigi became a successful lawyer and was named the Deputy General Attorney of the Italian state.

Maria Luisa Corsini was born on June 24, 1984, in Florence. Her father had a strong temper and her mother had a tendency to be dominant. Maria grew up in a difficult and tense environment; but she was always conciliatory and she responded to all those situations in a very tender way.

The two families: Quatrocchi and Corsini had a very close relationship. Maria was also very well educated; and had more interest in the intellectual rather than the superficial. Thanks to her intellectual thirst, Maria and Luigi had long and interesting conversations and grew closer as friends.

Maria and Luigi kept in touch by writing letters and going on dates. Little by little they fell in love. In their letters one can see how their love grew until finally in March 15, 1905, Luigi declared his love to Maria. Their letters reflect not only their intimacy, but the depth of their feelings for each other and, at the same time, they allow us to enter into their hearts and follow the ascending paths of their souls.

We can highlight the fact that even though both Luigi and Maria professed a deep faith, Maria’s faith was stronger. In fact, we can certainly say that Maria directed her family in their spiritual path. She was a “strong woman” that guided her family along a holy path. Maria was determined to bring Luigi closer to God by her example, advice, and prayers.

After a short engagement, Maria and Luigi got married on November 25, 1905. They did not feel they needed much time before getting married since they had known each other for a long time and were sure of the knowledge they had about each other.

Maria and Luigi had four children. Filippo (1906) is now known as Archbishop Tarsicio of the diocese of Rome. Cesare (1909) became a trappist priest monk who took the religious name of P. Paolino. Stefania (1908) became a nun in the Benedictine order with the name of Sister Cecilia. The youngest, Enriccheta(1914),  got married and had a family like her parents.

Enriccheta’s pregnancy was very difficult. When the doctors saw the danger that this pregnancy brought to the mother and the baby, they advised the couple to have an abortion. After a profound discernment, both Luigi and Maria decided to carry on with the pregnancy and fully trust in God despite the doctor´s advice. In the end Enriccheta was born a healthy baby.  Her mother was weak at the beginning, but with a lot of care was able to recover.

A very important person came across Maria and Luigi’s life: Father Pellegrino Paoli. With him, Maria started a way of deep perfection in her spiritual journey through spiritual direction. Father Pellegrino proposed a series of practices in which we can name: the beginning of a deep prayer life, practice of mortification, and profound charity in which there was always a home for those in need, etc.

The spiritual direction initiated by Father Paoli was reinforced by Father Mathew Crawley who opened a new Christian perspective: “a friendship with Jesus”. Their home was a welcoming dwelling place for Jesus that welcomes every person in need.

Luigi and Maria became one self with one goal: their sanctity! They knew they were a visible sacrament of the nuptial love between Christ and the Church.

Their attention to the poor in the crisis of 1929; the generous delivery of Maria as a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross in the second world war; their dedicated generosity in the recovery of the evangelic spirit after the trauma caused by the war; their work in defense of the family and Christian doctrine through conferences in which both helped people understand the beauty and the responsibility of the conjugal love; and many more activities in which both were generously devoted, show us their degree of commitment.

After a fertile marriage that lasted 50 years, Luigi passed away in 1951. At his funeral thousands of people came to say goodbye to Luigi and every person testified to the good they had received.

Maria did not stop her charitable activities or apostolate, living an intense spiritual life. Little by little she reduced her activities, and at the same time, her interior life grew to a profound life of prayer. In August of 1965 she died in Enriccheta’s arms.

Their beatification came along with a big crowd of people, her children: Filippo and Cesare (who concelebrated the Eucharist), and their daughter Enricchetta.

There is no doubt that they formed an exemplary marriage. Through the years and their prolific lives they left us many clues of how to live a saintly and happy marriage which highlights their profound prayer life, their trust in God, and the spiritual direction which at the end brought them to a fruitful apostolic and active life.

As they confidently surrendered to God, God Himself showed them the way they were to follow; and this is precisely what we (Christian marriages) need to do right now. We need to confidently surrender to God and trust that He, little by little, will show us the way.

Wife and mother.
I try to combine my true vocation as best as I can with a part-time job during the morning which allows me to look after my family in the evening. 

I am a lay member of the Home of the Mother.