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Saturday, 14 April 2007


In his first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, published last year, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the primacy of charity in Christian life and in the Church. By so doing, he wished to remind us that the saints, who made their life a hymn to God-Love in thousands of different tones, are privileged witnesses of this primacy.

"In truth", the Pope said, commenting on this topic, "the Church's entire history is a history of holiness, animated by the one Love whose source is God" (Angelus Reflection, 29 January 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 1 February, p. 1).

In fact, it is only through supernatural charity, ever new, which flows from Christ's Heart that one can explain the wonderful blossoming of holiness seen during the 2,000 years of Christianity and which has lasted for a long and happy season in the Piedmont and particularly in the Archdiocese of Turin.

Our new Blessed, Canon Luigi Boccardo, fits into this context well.

Moulded by the Spirit of Christ, Bl. Fr Luigi was a model of evangelical dedication. As an expression and school of charity, he sowed the seed of an Institute of consecrated life, the contemplative Sisters of Christ the King. It was a branch of the family of the Sisters of St Cajetan for whom he was able to continue the work of his brother, Bl. Giovanni Boccardo.

He was a humble priest with a great heart, like that of Christ who welcomes everyone in the embrace of his mercy.

For some 30 years he taught the young priests who lived in the ecclesiastical residence at the Shrine of the Consolata and he was a diligent and faithful confessor.

Following in the footsteps of numerous holy priests of Turin, Fr Luigi can be described as a "cantor and apostle of God's mercy". He radiated Christ's saving message, joyously living his priestly ministry to the full, so that he was held up as "the priest who was always a priest", "the one who reveals the sun" of divine mercy, the priest to turn to and to whom to make one's confession.

Immersed in the eternal present of Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, Bl. Luigi Boccardo can rightly be presented as an especially current model of priestly life because, as Pope John Paul II said in referring to the priesthood: "Christ is the measure of all the epochs".

On a Visit to Turin on 13 April 1980, exactly 27 years ago yesterday, John Paul II himself stressed with an acute pastoral sense: "But someone will say: this is past history. Today is different, radically different. "Today' is riding roughshod over "yesterday'. It is no longer the Turin of the Saints, but the Turin of great industry and of great secularization.... The saints belong to the past, but they are not sufficient for modern times - someone will say. But there is Christ. And he is sufficient for all times: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever!'" (Homily, Turin, Italy, 13 April 1980; ORE, April 21, p. 4).

The saints do not distance us from Christ, they restore us to him.

May this happen for all who find in the new Blessed, Luigi Boccardo, one more reason for taking a step ahead on the road to the Kingdom of God.

In this spirit, as a Representative of the Pope presiding at this Beatification, I am honoured to conclude by conveying to this beloved and participating assembly, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI's Greeting and to pass on to you his Apostolic Blessing.