22nd of October: liturgical memorial of two great Blesseds!

Bl.Timothy Giaccardo
Today, 22nd of October, in the Pauline Family throughout the world, we recall the memorial of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, first Pauline priest and a powerful intercessor for our Congregation, the Disciples of the Divine Master.

Back in 1928, our founder, Fr. Alberione had set apart several Daughters of St. Paul, the first female Congregation in our religious family to form the nucleus of a new community, one dedicated solely to Eucharistic Adoration, service to the priesthood and the liturgical apostolate. Both Fr. Alberione and Fr. Giaccardo realized the importance of contemplative prayer to support and enliven the various works of the Congregations that make up the Pauline Family. However, the Holy See were quick to advise that no separation from the Daughters of St. Paul would be allowed.

Blessed James Alberione (founder) and
Blessed Timothy Giaccardo
When in 1936 Fr. Alberione and Maestra Thecla Merlo, Superior General of the Daughters of St. Paul, transferred their governing offices from Alba to Rome, the Founder appointed his first priest, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, to take care of the Pauline communities and especially the sister Disciples who lived in a situation that was quite particular. In 1939, following the return of Mother Scholastica Rivata from Egypt, the sister Disciples’ own novitiate was established, under the jurisdiction of the Daughters of St. Paul but directed practically by the future PDDM Superior General, Mother M. Lucia Ricci.

In the time of great trial for the Institute the Lord accepted the offering of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo who celebrated his last Mass on January 12th 1948, the very day on which the sister Disciples received the Decretum Laudis, that is, the approbation for our Congregation from the Holy See. Nevertheless, Fr. Giaccardo insisted on celebrating a Mass of thanksgiving with the members of the new Congregation. He had made an offering of his life for that intention, and it was evidently received: when he heard the news, he was bedridden with acute leukaemia. He collapsed during the Mass and died 12 days later on the 24th of January on the feast day of his patron, St. Timothy, the faithful companion, collaborator and friend of St. Paul.

Sr. M. Luciana Lazzarini, PDDM
Soon in the Pauline Family, he was invoked for many favours and intercessions by those who remembered his deep life of prayer whilst alive. On the 9th of May, 1985, Pope John Paul II declared Fr.Timothy Giaccardo “venerable.” Four years later, papal confirmation was given of the miracle attributed to his intercession, thus declaring him Blessed. On the 22nd of October 1989, in the Basilica of St. Peter, Pope John Paul II said to large assembled crowd: “With our apostolic authority we declare that the venerable Joseph Timothy Giaccardo from this moment on shall be called Blessed, and that every year his feast may be celebrated on the 22nd of October to commemorate his birth into heaven.” The miracle was received by Sr. Maria Luciana Lazzarini, one of our Italian sisters who was stationed in Japan but currently in Sanfre had been dying of “bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis.” In July 1954, at the end of a novena made to Fr. Giaccardo, she was completely and instantaneously cured. Later, the head physician of the sanatorium where Sr. Luciana had been admitted, together with all his immediate family members converted to Catholicism after witnessing Sr. Luciana's miraculous healing. 
Pope John Paul II prays at the tomb of
Bl. Timothy Giaccardo whom he beatified in 1989

As the first beatified member of the Pauline Family, Father Timothy Giaccardo is outstanding also as the first modern-day apostle whose life was consecrated for the explicit purpose of evangelisation with the media. His life is witness to the fruitfulness of contemplation joined with action--a call to fullest union with the Divine Master. It is fitting also that on this day we recall the first liturgical memorial of Blessed Pope John Paul II, the same Pope who beatified Blessed Timothy in 1989. May these two great men, who worked tirelessly to bring young people to Christ, continue to intercede for us.