Biography of St. Louis Guanella

Early Life

Luigi Guanella was born in Fraciscio, Italy on December 19, 1842. When he was twelve years old, he entered the seminary and was ordained in 1866. From 1875 until 1878, Don (“Father” in Italian) Guanella assisted St. John Bosco in his care of homeless children. Shortly thereafter, he began a pioneer program dealing with rehabilitation of boys and girls abandoned and rejected by society because of their physical and mental disabilities. Fr. Guanella’s philosophy in this matter was not entirely based on sophisticated theories but dealt in terms of “action.” No one could stop him in this effort. The opposition of civil authorities, criticism of the elite, and his personal reputation as a dreamer, did not matter.

A Friend of Good Children

As a talented writer and preacher, he wrote books, articles, and speeches to present to society the problem of those with disabilities and to further their acceptance as brothers and sisters and as blessings from God. He believed that their disabilities should not separate them from our love and attention and that some things could be done to alleviate their alienation. “Good children” as Fr. Guanella used to call them.

Two Religious Congregations

In 1886, Fr. Guanella’s goal became a reality. He opened the first established residential school in Como, Italy, for these beloved “Good children”. Some young men and women had joined Fr. Guanella, and two religious congregations were subsequently established: the “Daughters of St. Mary of Providence” and the “Servants of Charity”.

Pious Union of Saint Joseph     

Two years before his death Fr. Guanella founded the Pious Union of Saint Joseph, whose members pray for the dying. The first member of the prayer association, of what has now become over a million members, was Pope Pius X.

Death and Beatification of St. Louis Guanella

Fr. Luigi Guanella died on October 24, 1915, but his spirit is deep in the hearts of his priests and sisters who are spread throughout the world loving and educating thousands of boys and girls. The cause for Fr. Guanella’s canonization began in Rome on March 15, 1939. On October 25, 1964, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Fr. Luigi Guanella “Blessed” and presented him to the world as a model of charity.

Canonization of St. Louis Guanella

 Miracle attributed to St. Luigi Guanella

The miracle was the complete healing of William Glisson, Jr. of a traumatic brain injury. The injury resulted from an accidental fall, which took place in 2002 in Springfield, PA. The medical documentation confirmed that there was no scientific explanation for this recovery and therefore seen as “miraculous.” Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Blessed Luigi Guanella “Saint” on October 23, 2011 and offered him to the world as an “Apostle of Charity.”