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Luigi Variara

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Melissa Benitez

on 24 January 2014

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Transcript of Luigi Variara

Blessed Luigi Variara: Salesian Missionary & Apostle to Lepers

But, dad, I want
to be a vet!
• Born on January 15, 1875 in Asti, Italy to a deeply Christian family
• His father, Pietro, takes him to Don Bosco’s oratory in Valdocco when he’s 12 years old
• But father….
o “
No. Dad, no! I will not be a priest! I refuse to be a priest! I want to be a veterinarian instead
o “Well, Louis, study hard and be good. You’re just twelve years old now. We will let Our Lady show you the way!”
• Unforgettable encounter with Don Bosco
o “
He looked at me with a kind glance, and his eyes fixed themselves on me. I don’t know what I experienced at that moment. It was something that could not be expressed. That day was one of the most telling surprises of my life. I was certain that I had looked upon a saint, and that saint had left an impression on me that only God could know its meaning

Maturing into the Teen Years
• He matures; develops a deep sense of piety, an amazing gift for music, gentle, yet a jovial character
• joins the S.D.B after high school
• moves to Valsalice to study philosophy
• Father Rua gave him special permission to make his perpetual vows very early (only 1 month after he makes his temporal vows)

His Formation Journey Takes
A Rapid Change
• 1894: Father Michael Unia visits Valsalice to pick a young Salesian who could help him take care of the lepers in Agua de Dios.
• “I kept praying that Our Lady would give me the grace of being among the chosen ones!”
• From among 188 of his companions, Fr. Unia turned and fixing his glance on Louis, “This one will do quite well for our lepers!”

“He called me aside and asked if I’d be willing to go to Agua de Dios, the lazaretto, where the dead lay and the dying awaited the last call. In the midst of my great joy I said yes. It seemed like a dream. My joy knew no bounds when I was told I could go to care for the lepers.”
• He was only a teen, and still studying for the priesthood!

Agua de Dios: "The City of Pain"
Step 5
• Arrives in Agua de Dios on August 6, 1894
• Population was 2,000; 800 of whom were lepers
• Starts a musical band that transforms the “city of pain” into a place of joy and hope
• A year later, Fr. Unia dies and Louis is left to take over his mission alongside Fr. Crippa
“sharing joys and sorrows, the most complete mutual understanding and agreement. We were indivisible, one in mind and heart in all we did.”
• 1898: ordained at the age of 23 and becomes an excellent spiritual director
• 1905: he finishes building
El Jardin de Infantes
“Father Unia,” a shelter for 150 orphans and lepers

Founding A New Religious Congregation
• The Daughters of Mary was a sodality of about 200 girls, many of whom were lepers
• Religious congregations rejected lepers and/or children of lepers
• He became their confessor
• Founded the
Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
with the Salesian charism of sacrifice
o 1st religious institute that permits lepers to become religious
o 1st time a Salesian founds a new religious congregation
o “The institute is a good thing. It has to be nurtured and made to grow.” ~ Fr. Michael Rua
o Numbers 600 today
Turbulent Waters
• He was misunderstood by many, including his superiors
• Slanderous talk was spread of him about his relations with the women
• He was asked to leave Agua de Dios and was assigned to a leper colony at Contratación.
• Period of great trial in his life…deeply missed the Sisters of his congregation
• He suffered silently and lived his vow of obedience to the full
"To Jesus, I entrust my soul. As long as He does not change, neither will I. What I felt at Mosquera four years ago, I feel with greater force, and I shall be guided only the same Will of God, at the cost of sacrifice."
• From that point on, his obedience moved him frequently from city to city including: Mosquera, Bogota, and Barranquilla
He was asked to leave Agua de Dios permanently after having served there for 25 years.
He wrote dozens of letters of support to his beloved sisters

~ The Final Years ~
• gets to visit home for the 1st time in 17 years
• failing health…people suspicious he contracted leprosy
• diagnosed with nephritis and a serious case of uremia.... 1921: moved to Cucuta in Venezuela
• his health declined rapidly and he died on February 1, 1923 at the age of 49 years
• His remains were transferred to the Sisters’ chapel in Agua de Dios
• Beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 14, 2002
• “
Bearing with patience the suffering of Christ
” was his greatest desire.
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