Italian Salesian missionary in India a step closer to sainthood

Fr. Convertini was born in the Papariello district of Locorotondo (Bari) on 29 August 1898.

Jan 23, 2017

MUMBAI: Pope Francis on 21 January authorized the promulgation of 8 decrees, recognizing a miracle and heroic ‎virtues of 7 men and a woman, taking them a step closer to sainthood. Among the 7 heroic ‎virtues, who have now been conferred the title 'Venerable Servant of God',is Fr. Francesco Convertini an Italian Salesian priest who went to India as a missionary and died ‎in Krishnagar, in 1976.

Fr. Convertini was born in the Papariello district of Locorotondo (Bari) on 29 August 1898. He was called ‎up for military service during World War I. He was wounded, taken prisoner and transported to Poland. ‎When he returned home he said "yes" to the Lord's call that he had discerned through the mediation of ‎Fr Angelo Amadei and the Cagliero community in Ivrea.

He set out from Genoa to India after receiving the Missionary Crucifix from the hands of Blessed Fr ‎Philip Rinaldi, the third successor of Don Bosco. After reaching Assam, India, in December 1927, he was became a novice of Venerable Stephen Ferrando and a disciple of Archbishop Louis ‎Mathias and the Servant of God Fr Constantine Vendrame, and was distinguished for his exceptional ‎apostolic zeal.

He was ordained a priest in June 1935 and ‎posted to the poor Diocese of ‎Krishnagar, in Bengal, where he spent the rest of his life. He visited his homeland, Italy, twice and remained deeply scandalized with the bread that went wasted in the garbage bin, while the numerous children he was caring for in Krishnagar, were dying of hunger. In rural Bengal, he made a huge number of friends and spiritual ‎children, both ignorant and learned, rich and poor. He was the only missionary who could enter a ‎house of Hindus or Muslims. He went continually from village to village, on horseback, by bicycle or ‎better on foot with nothing but his backpack. This way, he could meet many people and talk to them ‎about Christ.‎ He gave himself to all to all equally: Muslims, Hindus and Christians. He is attributed with many miraculous events.

Fr Convertini was not a man of theory. He was very practical and was able to branch out in many ‎directions with the values and ideals of the Gospel. He understood mercy not as a vague sentimental ‎emotion but in the concrete practice of all the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.‎ Throughout his life he was able to accept others and meet people with his heart, goodness and ‎humanity. He was loved by all and revered as a ‎master of interior life with the wisdom of heart that he possessed in abundance. He was devoted to the ‎Blessed Virgin and died on 11 February 1976 murmuring: "My Mother, I have never displeased you in ‎all my life. Help me now!"‎ He is buried in the cathedral ground of Krishnagar Diocese.--Vatican Radio

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