Saint Ludovico of Casoria (1814-1885)
Image: Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth
(Franciscan Media) Born in Italy Casoria, today’s Saint was given the name Arcangelo Palmentieri and was a cabinet maker before entering the Friars Minor in 1832 taking the name Ludovico–after his ordination five years later, Fr. Ludovico taught chemistry, physics and mathematics to younger members of his province for several years.
In 1847 while praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church of the Sacramentine Sisters in Naples, according to Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth Fr. Ludovico had a spiritual experience characterized as a ‘rebirth’ to a new life.
The first people to see the change in Fr. Ludovico were his students, that one day saw him wearing a habit made out of inexpensive fiber and rough sandals. Fr. Ludovico told his students that he desired to emulate Saint Francis, the reaction was one of surprise.
From that day on, Fr. Ludovico consecrated himself totally to the service of the poor and sick, establishing a medical clinic for them, two schools for African children, an institute for the children of nobility, one for orphans, the deaf and mute and other institutes for the blind, elderly and for travelers, in addition to a medical clinic for Friars of Fr. Ludovico’s province together with charitable institutes throughout Italy.
To help continue his works of mercy, in 1859 Fr. Ludvico established the ‘Gray Brothers’ a religious community composed of Men who had formally belonged to the Secular Franciscan Order — Three years later, Fr. Ludvico established a congregation of religious Women, known as the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, whom he placed under the protection of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary among the first members of the Third Order of Saint Francis and its Patroness. Their work continues to this day in Italy, the United States, Ethiopia, India, Panama.
Fr. Ludovico was a man ahead of his time, he would encourage the Apostolate of the Laity, to interchange with different cultures, with the goal of invigorating society with the light of the Gospel.
It is said that Fr. Ludovico had the charisma to attract others to his initiatives who were willing to work for God’s love. One day a friend inquired how many institutions and projects he had established around Naples, it was estimated that Fr. Ludovioc established some 200 projects all dedicated to the service of the poor and needy.
Fr. Ludovico was a practical man who would say of himself that he was just an old carpenter, his secret was his faith, conviction and the belief that not by human reasoning but with the help of Divine Providence–anything could be accomplished.
Toward the end of Fr. Ludovico’s life, he wrote a spiritual testament which described faith as “light in the darkness, help in sickness, blessings in tribulations, paradise in the crucifixion and life amid death.”
The work for Fr. Ludovico’s Beatification began within 5 months subsequent of his death, he was Beatified in 1993 by Pope Saint John Paul II according to SQPN and was Canonized on the 23 November, 2014 by Pope Francis.