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Bl. Charles Liviero (1866-1932)

Bishop, Founder of the Little Servants of the Sacred Heart


Charles Liviero was born at Vicenza, Italy, on 29 May 1866. When he was still very young his father, a railroad worker, was transferred to Monselice in the Padua Province. There Charles attended elementary and junior high school, and in October 1881 he entered the seminary of Padua. On 30 November 1888 he was ordained a priest at the young age of 22.

Shortly after his ordination Fr Liviero was sent to Gallio, Vicenza, to teach youth who were discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

In 1890 he became parish priest at Gallio, where he worked for 10 years.

The dedicated priest was quick to put his human and spiritual gifts at the service of others in order to alleviate the various hardships of the faithful entrusted to his care.

During his first assignment as parish priest he instituted a number of social programmes, including the Catholic Agricultural Workers Society, a nursery school and the Mutual Aid Society.

In 1900 he was transferred to Agna nella Bassa Padovana, Padua, an area that was undergoing harsh economic conditions. In this new environment he continued his social assistance initiatives with the establishment of a nursery school, another Mutual Assistance Society, an Oratory, a Christian workers association and a young women's work-training school.

Fr Charles also took up the difficult battle against the prevailing anticlerical mindset of the day, which led his parishioners to nickname him the "hammer of socialism".

His valuable apostolic work gained him the recognition of his superiors and on 6 March 1910 he was consecrated Bishop of Città di Castello, a historic city in the Province of Perugia. His episcopal coat of arms bore the motto: "In Caritate Christi", for it was from the source of Christ's love that he drew his love for others and for his ministry.

With the humility which comes from truth, he said of himself, "You have in me a Father who loves you".

Loving with the Heart of Christ

In his Diocese, however, he met with contempt for the Church, and the young Bishop employed all his ardour - he was 44 years old at the time of his episcopal consecration - and strong convictions to rectify the situation.

The diocesan seminary soon began to flourish. Fortunately, the initial hostility that "welcomed" him transformed into admiration for the numerous spiritual and charitable works he established in the fields of education, health care and housing.

In 1910, during his first year as a Bishop he founded a Catholic elementary school. Two years later he established a Catholic press.

In 1915 he founded the Sacred Heart Home for the education of poor and orphaned youth; in 1919 the "Catholic Bookstore" opened which offered a circular library, and in 1920 a student hostel was opened, also dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Five years later, a diocesan home for the care of orphans suffering from tuberculosis and rickets was established in Pesaro. In 1931 a cinema was opened. He also founded an information bulletin for his diocesan priests.

Founder of Religious Sisters

To assist his charitable works for orphans and casualties of the First World War, Bishop Liviero founded in 1915 a Congregation of Sisters, the Little Servants of the Sacred Heart. The order's charism, which focused on charitable works toward the "little ones" and the poor, was approved in 1916.

The Sisters' ability to generously dedicate themselves to various Christian charities flowed from their desire to imitate Jesus, meek and humble of heart, and from contemplation of his Sacred Heart.

Thus, the Order was a simple and joyful presence among members of the Mystical Body of Christ whom they served.

This holy Bishop's dedicated pastoral work was cut short by a serious automobile accident on 24 June 1932; he was hospitalized in Fano, where he died on 7 July 1932.

Charles Liviero was born poor, knew the voice of the poor, heard their voices in prayer and kept them as his focus in building the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He was open to all people from every walk of life, whom he helped and loved with the heart of a father.

The cause for the Beatification of Bishop Charles Liviero was opened on 5 August 1976.