Luigi Versiglia

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Luigi Versiglia

Apostolic Vicar of Shaoguan
Luigi Versiglia (1873-1930).jpg
Photograph circa 1921.
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Shaoguan
Appointed22 April 1920
Term ended25 February 1930
PredecessorNone; position established
SuccessorIgnazio Canazei
Other posts Titular Bishop of Carystus (1920-30)
Ordination21 December 1895
Consecration9 January 1921
by Jean-Baptiste-Marie Budes de Guébriant
Personal details
Birth nameLuigi Versiglia
Born(1873-06-05)5 June 1873
Oliva Gessi, Pavia, Kingdom of Italy
Died25 February 1930(1930-02-25) (aged 56)
Litouzui, Guangdong, China
Alma mater Pontifical Gregorian University
Feast day
  • 25 February
  • 13 November (Salesians)
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified15 May 1983
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
by  Pope John Paul II
Canonized1 October 2000
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope John Paul II
  • Episcopal attire
  • Palm
  • Chalice

Saint Luigi Versiglia (5 June 1873 - 25 February 1930) was an Italian Roman Catholic prelate and professed member from the Salesians of Don Bosco who served as the first Apostolic Vicar of Shaoguan from 1920 until his murder. [1] [2] He was also a former novice master noted for his strict austerities and discipline but for his loving and compassionate care of the poor and defenceless. [3] [4] He led the first Salesian expedition to China in 1906 and remained there until his death functioning for the people in various capacities such as a gardener and barber. [4] [5]

Canonization Act by which churches declare that a person who has died was a saint

Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares that a person who has died was a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the "canon", or list, of recognized saints. Originally, a person was recognized as a saint without any formal process. Later, different processes were developed, such as those used today in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion.

Prelate high-ranking member of the clergy

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means "carry before", "be set above or over" or "prefer"; hence, a prelate is one set over others.

Salesians of Don Bosco Catholic religious institute

The Salesians of Don Bosco is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite religious institute founded in the late nineteenth century by Italian priest Saint John Bosco to help poor children during the Industrial Revolution.


His beatification was celebrated in 1983 and he was later canonized as a saint on 1 October 2000 in Saint Peter's Square. [2] [1]


Luigi Versiglia was born on 5 June 1873 in Oliva Gessi in Pavia. He served as an altar server in his childhood. In 1885 his parents sent him to school at one of the oratories that the Salesians of Don Bosco managed though he never entertained notions of becoming a priest instead of a veterinarian as he wished. [2] [3] He studied there in Valdocco from 1885 to 1889 before deciding to become a Salesian himself. [4] But Saint Giovanni Bosco also noticed Versiglia's diligence and saw something in him that he wanted to discuss with the child. He told him that he wanted to meet with him soon to tell him important. This happened in 1887 though the actual meeting never took place for Bosco fell ill and died in 1888. Versiglia wondered from that point what it was Bosco wished to speak with him about. [1]

Oliva Gessi Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Oliva Gessi is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Pavia in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 50 km south of Milan and about 20 km south of Pavia. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 196 and an area of 3.9 km².

Pavia Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Pavia is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy in northern Italy, 35 kilometres south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It has a population of c. 73,000. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards from 572 to 774.

An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Christian liturgy. An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell, among other things. A young male altar server is commonly called an altar boy, whereas a young female altar server is commonly called an altar girl.

He entered the order after Blessed Michele Rua received him into it. [3] He made his solemn profession on 11 October 1889 and he received his doctorate in philosophical studies from the Gregorian in Rome in 1893 (he was there since 1890). His ordination to the priesthood was celebrated on 21 December 1895 and he was later appointed as novice master at Genzano in Rome from 1896 until 1905 where he became known for his strict austerities and discipline. [5] [4] [1] But Versiglia needed to receive a special dispensation to be ordained since he was under the canonical age requirement.

Michele Rua Italian Salesian priest

Blessed Michele Rua was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and professed member of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Rua was a student under Saint Giovanni Bosco and was also the latter's first collaborator in the order's founding as well as one of his closest friends. He served as the first Rector Major of the Salesians following Bosco's death in 1888. He was responsible for the expansion of the Salesians and the order had grown to a significant degree around the world at the time he died. Rua served as a noted spiritual director and leader for the Salesians known for his austerities and rigid adherence to the rule. It was for this reason that he was nicknamed, 'the living rule'.

Doctorate academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctor's degree or doctoral degree, is an academic degree awarded by universities, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi In most countries, it is a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. There are a variety of names for doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

Pontifical Gregorian University pontifical university located in Rome, Italy

The Pontifical Gregorian University is a higher education ecclesiastical school located in Rome, Italy. It was originally a part of the Roman College founded in 1551 by Ignatius of Loyola, and included all grades of schooling. The university division of philosophy and theology of the Roman College was given Papal approval in 1556, making it the first university founded by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In 1584 the Roman College was given a grandiose new home by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was renamed. It was already making its mark not only in sacred but also in natural science.

He led the first expedition for Salesian missionaries into China in 1906 and arrived at Macau on 7 January. [2] [5] The priest began his work and established a motherhouse for the order at Macau while opening a new mission in the Shaoguan region where Pope Benedict XV appointed him as its first apostolic vicar in 1920. Versiglia received his episcopal consecration in 1921 at the Canton Cathedral where the Salesian Servant of God Carlo Braga was stationed at the organ for the event. He founded an orphanage as well as several aged care homes and two leper colonies. [4] [5] [1] But he tended to the needs of his people and served in various capacities for them such as their gardener or barber.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Macau Special Administrative Region of China

Macau or Macao, officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With a population of 653,100 in an area of 32.9 km2 (12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.

Pope Benedict XV 258th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XV, born Giacomo Paolo Giovanni Battista della Chiesa, was head of the Catholic Church from 3 September 1914 until his death in 1922. His pontificate was largely overshadowed by World War I and its political, social, and humanitarian consequences in Europe.

He and Callisto Caravario - fellow Salesian whom he knew well - were travelling at noon on 25 February 1930 via boat along a river to the Lin-Chow mission when Bolshevik pirates boarded their ship. [2] The pirates planned on abducting and enslaving three girls on the ship but the two priest shielded them. [5] But the pirates managed to subdue the pair and knocked them unconscious after striking them with their rifle butts before binding them and going to rummage through their possessions in their luggage. The men discarded the crucifixes as the men came to with the two hearing each other's confession. [3] [2] The pair were then dragged ashore into a thicket where Versiglia knew he would die so pleaded for the men to spare Caravario. But the retort came: "No" because "the foreign devils must all die". [3] [4] Five rifle shots ended the pair's lives. Their remains were not discovered until 27 February and the girls captured were released within the week. [1]

Thicket dense stand of trees, shrubs, or vines

A thicket is a very dense stand of trees or tall shrubs, often dominated by only one or a few species, to the exclusion of all others. They may be formed by species that shed large numbers of highly viable seeds that are able to germinate in the shelter of the maternal plants.

His remains were interred at the Lin Kong-How Cathedral but the Red Guards vandalized this place during the Cultural Revolution. [4]

On 2 October 2010 the Salesian cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun led a torchlight commemoration to the pair on 2 October 2010 to mark a decade since the pair were canonized as saints. [1]


The process for the pair's canonization opened in both Shaozhou and in Turin in an informative process that spanned from 31 December 1934 until its closure in 1935 while his spiritual writings received theological approval on 18 March 1949. The formal introduction to the cause came on 13 June 1952 under Pope Pius XII and he became titled as a Servant of God. There was also a second process that was held but split into two: one was held in Hong Kong from 1953 to 1954 and the other was held in Turin from 1953 to 1957. Both processes received validation from the Congregation for Rites on 5 July 1963 when the cause moved to Rome for further investigation.

The officials from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and their consultants approved the cause on 3 February 1976 with the C.C.S. members alone meeting and approving the cause on 11 May 1976. Pope Paul VI approved their beatification on 13 November 1976 determining that the two were killed "in odium fidei" (in hatred of the faith) but died in 1978 before he could celebrate their beatification as did his successor Pope John Paul I a month later. Pope John Paul II celebrated the beatification on 15 May 1983.

Their canonization would have depended on one miracle being attributed to them but this was waivered. Their cause was unified to that of others killed in China on 11 January 2000 with John Paul II signing a decree "de signis" on 22 January 2000 which waivered the required miracle for canonization. The date for the celebration was determined at a gathering of cardinals held on 10 March 2000 and Versiglia - and that of 119 others - was canonized as a saint in Saint Peter's Square on 1 October 2000.

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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Saint Luigi Versiglia". Saints SQPN. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
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