Luigi Talamoni (1848-1926)
Luigi Talamoni was born on 3 October 1848 in Monza, Italy, the second of six children to Maria Sala and Giuseppe Talamoni, a hatmaker.
As a young boy, Luigi went to daily Mass together with his father, where he exercised his "first ministry" as an altar server: it was his constant dream to someday become a priest.
Luigi was also sustained by his peers and received encouragement from the Barnabite Servant of God, Fr Luigi Villoresi, director of the Oratory of Carrobiolo in Monza. Here, the young boy received a Christian and human formation, and his vocation to the priesthood and sense of duty to help others matured through this daily contact, all under the guidance of Fr Villoresi.
"Seminary for the poor'
During the second war of independence in Italy, the Oratory of Carrobiolo became a "Seminary for the poor": young men who wanted to become priests but did not have the money for boarding and studies were able to live and study at Carrobiolo. They were taught by qualified professors who volunteered their service and together lived a simple community life while carrying out their pastoral work at the Oratory.
Example of silence, humility
It was at Carrobiolo that Luigi lived and studied until 1865, when he was transferred to the Theological Seminary of Milan. On 4 March 1871 he was ordained a priest and celebrated his first Mass at Carrobiolo.
He began his ministry as a teacher at St Charles College in Milan; a short time later he was transferred to the Archdiocesan Seminary, where he would remain until the end of his life.
During his years at the seminary, Fr Luigi was prone to "mistreatment" and was misunderstood by many of his students and priest-colleagues. The clergy at that time were divided between the "liberal" and the "traditional" priests, and Fr Luigi was considered by some to be "too strict". When certain seminarians "made fun" of him or he received some kind of humiliation from other priests, Fr Luigi always responded with silence and respect, patience and forgiveness.
Priestly ministry, "political charity'
Fr Luigi's daily schedule was meticulously divided between his dedication to preparing lessons for the seminarians and duties at the Seminary, and his long hours given to hearing Confessions at the Cathedral. People in long lines would expectantly wait their turn to receive the sacrament of Penance through the hands of this "holy priest", discovering in him an "uncommon" divine wisdom.
Fr Luigi was particularly concerned with making house visits to the sick and elderly. To further this apostolate, on 25 March 1891, together with Maria Biffi Levati, he founded the "Congregation of the "Misericordines' of St Gerard", a community of Sisters with the mission of visiting and assisting the sick and elderly. The Religious provided assistance to the ill persons especially during the night so that their family members could sleep and go to work the next day.
The spirit of the Institute, as defined by Fr Luigi and Maria Biffi, was to "provide charitable and maternal assistance to the sick, to have care over their souls and aid in their salvation... to bring the love of Christ into their homes". Fr Luigi would often recommend to the Sisters: "Be humble, docile and burn with love".
Until the end of his life, Fr Luigi continued to be faithful to his duties and teaching at the seminary, to his role as confessor at the Cathedral, and to the formation of the Misericordine Sisters through written correspondence and counsel.
Fr Luigi Talamoni died in Milan on 31 January 1926.
Homily of John Paul II (21 March 2004)