Giacomo was an Italian Blessed who was born on March 15, 1834, to a well to do family, on an island in Sicily. His mother died when he was very young, and his father had a priest tutor his young son. Giacoma was eager for his religious education and was a very pious child. His family would have to lock up his clothing, as the young boy would often give away any clothing he could get his hands on, to the poor beggars that would come by the house.
As he grew, he was educated at Jesuit schools, and then went on to study medicine at the University of Palermo. After receiving his doctorate in medicine and surgery, he entered the medical field. He practiced medicine with caring skill and zeal. He often cared for the poor people who could not afford a doctor. He noted, that most of the people from the poorer sections of the city were in dire need of religious direction as well, and began to study theology so as to administer to their spiritual needs in addition to their physical needs. After considering a vocation as a Capuchin friar, he was encouraged by his spiritual director to become a priest instead. He was ordained into the priesthood December 22, 1860.
Now that he was both priest and a doctor, he felt the desire to create an institution for his poor patients that he called ‘Boccone del Pvero’ or Food for the Poor. He would gather medicines, food and other supplies and with the help of about 40 parishioners he would distribute these donations to the poor. A society developed out of this called “Missionary Servants of the Poor.” He also established ‘Sisters Servants of the Poor,’as well. He taught everyone to serve the poor with kindness and charity. Many likened him to St. Vincent de Paul. He encouraged his spiritual sons and daughters to strive for holiness in all things. He taught with the wisdom that gentleness and strength should be merged in caring for all of God’s children. He felt that everything should be done out of love for God and that every action that one does should be done out of love and bring glory to God.
He worked tirelessly for many years. Building hospitals, orphanages and hostels for the poor. His work spread throughout Italy and then beyond. His motto was ‘unlimited charity’. He had a strong work ethic and was a man of integrity. He worked for the salvation of souls with great zeal, until he could work no more due to illness. He suffered from pleurisy, which is a very painful inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the lungs. He died on the eve of his 54th birthday, March 14, 1888. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 30, 1983.
Dear Blessed Giacomo,Please help us to open our eyes to those around us, who are in need. Help us to open our hearts so that we recognize Christ in each person we meet, especially in the downtrodden of our society… those who suffer addiction…or poverty…those who may suffer mental illness. Help us to be kind to those who suffer, and help us to adopt your motto of ‘unlimited charity’ when dealing with those who are in need and help us bring glory to God in all we do. Amen.