Luigi Scrosoppi was born August 4th in the year 1804, in the small northern city in Italy called Udine. He was the youngest of three brothers, all of whom became priests. His family had money, but were religious people and raised their sons in a atmosphere of faith and Christian charity. By the time young Luigi was 12 years old he was already feeling the call to the priesthood. At the time, the area in which he lived was struck by famine, drought and typhus. It brought out in the young lad a desire to care for the poor and for those in need.
In his late teen years, he entered the same seminary as his older brother and was ordained on March 31, 1827. He was assisted at his first Mass by his two older brothers. He was the director of Pious Union of the Heart of Jesus Christ, which was a children’s center run by his brother Carlo. With the help of his fellow priests and a group of young teachers, he dedicated himself to caring for young, poor abandoned girls from Udine and the surrounding area. He devoted all of his possessions, his energies and his affections into making sure the young girls were treated with love and kindness. He instructed other women how to care for the young girls and teach them life skills such as sewing and embroidery as well as reading, writing and math.
He was a humble a devout man who did not spare himself from humility. And if the situation called for it, he often went out begging for the children, relying on Divine Providence and trusting in the Lord in all things. He was often chased from places and called bad names. Once a man who was tired of his begging hit him so hard that the humble priest was knocked to the ground. Instead of getting angry the young priest replied, “Thank you. This is for me but won’t you give me something for my orphans?”According to the author, the man was so moved and his conscience must have been pricked, so that from that moment on wards, he became one of the priest’s benefactors.
Father Luigi welcomed into his new home, women of varying ages and backgrounds. In each one he made sure that their love of the Lord was fostered. Under his care, these ‘outcasts’ learned to consecrate themselves to the Lord. In February of 1837, nine women gave up their possessions and chose to live their lives totally dedicated to the Lord, serving Him in poverty. The Congregation of the Sisters of Providence was born. Other sisters came to join the group. Some were rich, others poor. Some were educated, others had no schooling. But regardless of their backgrounds, in the House of Providence everyone who came had the chance to become a sister.
The life he developed in his home was one of spiritual reflection. He emphasized a life centered on Jesus Christ and the humility and poverty that Christ lived as a young boy in Nazareth. He also developed in his home a focus on the Cross of Calvary and last but not least, he stressed the importance of spending time adoring Jesus in the silence of the Eucharist.
Then after much thought and prayer, St. Luigi joined the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, which is a congregation devoted to charity and learning. Then in 1854 he finished work on the home for abandoned girls which he called ‘Rescue Home.’ He went on to open more homes for the poorest and most neglected of society. Some of the homes flourished, while others served their purpose but were short lived.
As he grew older he realized that he would have to give control over the homes to the sisters, which he did with faith and tranquility. He continued to keep in touch with the sisters, guiding them with tenderness and love. Fostering within the sisters a deep love and trust in the Lord. As the end of his life grew nearer he wrote to the sisters:
“After my death, your Congregation will have many troubles, but afterwards it will have a new life. Charity! Charity! This is the spirit of your religious family: to save souls and to save them with Charity.”
During the evening of April 3rd, 1884, he passed onto his eternal reward in heaven. Years later when a young man who was studying for the priesthood, was suffering incurable A.I.D.S in Nigeria. The young man found a book about the life of Blessed Luigi, and prayed for his intercession. He asked his family and the people whom he knew to pray for the intercession of Luigi Scrosoppi as well. Then one night as the young man slept he had a dream that a crown was placed on the head of Saint Luigi, when the young man awoke, he was totally cured from the disease. After much investigation, it was determined that he had indeed been ‘miraculously’ healed. Saint Luigi was declared a saint in 1991 by Pope John Paul II. Saint Luigi pray for us.