mercredi 18 décembre 2013

Bienheureux ANTOINE (ANTONIO) GRASSI, prêtre de la Congrégation de l'Oratoire

Bienheureux Antoine Grassi

Prêtre de l’Oratoire ( 1671)

Né à Fermo en Italie en 1592, éduqué chez les Oratoriens, il entra dans la Congrégation de l'Oratoire et fut ordonné prêtre en 1617, il faisait souvent le pélerinage à pied à Notre-Dame de Lorette, puis fit celui de l'année sainte à Rome en 1625. Il fut supérieur de l'Oratoire de Fermo.

Béatifié en 1900 par le Pape Léon XIII.


À Fermo dans les Marches, en 1671, le bienheureux Antoine Grassi, prêtre de l’Oratoire. Humble et pacifique, il poussa beaucoup ses confrères, par son exemple, à l’observance de la Règle.


Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/11250/Bienheureux-Antoine-Grassi.html

Antonio Grassi naquit le 13 novembre 1592 à Fermo. Enfant il était déjà pieux, appréciant le solitude et fabriquant de petits autels, pour y honorer Jésus et Marie et certains saints. Puis en 1609, malgré l’opposition de sa mère, il entra chez les Oratoriens qui s’occupèrent de parfaire son éducation.

Quelques années plus tard, en 1617, les études terminées, il fut ordonné prêtre. Le P. Grassi se distingua par l'amour des enfants qu'il préparait au catéchisme, des malades et des prisonniers dont il s'occupait. Il affirmait que la vocation du prêtre était de compatir, de consoler et de porter assistance.
Il avait une grande dévotion à la Vierge Marie et faisait à pied, chaque année, le pèlerinage de Notre Dame de Lorette.

En 1625, il fit aussi le pèlerinage à Rome de l'Année Sainte et ce fut pour lui l'occasion de grâces mystiques. En 1635, il fut élu en tant que Préposé de la Communauté de Fermo, charge qu'il assuma jusqu' à sa mort.

Le père Antoine Grassi se voulait très proche de l’esprit de saint Philippe Néri — fondateur de l’Oratoire —, gardant en toute chose un véritable esprit humaniste et agissant avec mesure.

Les Papes Clément X et Innocent XI le tenaient en grande estime ; car ils avaient eu connaissance des bienfaits qu'il prodiguait : Assistance aux pauvres, réconciliations, confessions et direction spirituelle. D'autres maisons de l'Oratoire ouvrirent dans la région et sa réputation de sainteté se répandit. Il aimait prier Notre Dame de Lorette. C'était un prêtre de son époque : humble, mystique et renoncé. De nombreuses grâces lui furent attribuées. Il avait prédit le jour de sa mort qui advint le 13 décembre 1671. On pria pour lui dans tous les Oratoires d'Italie et d'Allemagne et sa cause fut rapidement ouverte par le Cardinal Colloredo qui voyait en lui un authentique modèle de vie.

Il fut béatifié pendant l'Année Sainte 1900 par Léon XIII, devenant le troisième Oratorien à être ainsi glorifié. Il repose dans l'église de Notre Dame du Mont-Carmel à Fermo. Le couvent dans lequel il passa toute sa vie est devenu aujourd'hui un tribunal.

SOURCE : http://alexandrina.balasar.free.fr/antonio_grassi.htm

Bienheureux Antoine GRASSI, prêtre (1592-1671)

Fête le 15 décembre
Mémoire facultative
Antoine Grassi, né à Fermo, d’une famille noble, entra à seize ans dans la Congrégation de l’Oratoire instituée peu de temps auparavant dans sa ville. Observant parfaitement les règles de la vie commune, il se distingua par son obéissance, sa mansuétude et son affabilité. Il obtint de très bons résultats en philosophie et en théologie, et il sut unir ses connaissances avec son  humilité. Brûlant d’un très grand amour pour la Vierge Marie, il se rendait souvent en pèlerinage à la Sainte Maison de Lorette. Contre sa volonté, il fut élu plusieurs fois prévôt de l’Oratoire de Fermo, apprécié de tous parce qu’il agissait toujours avec une très grande charité, prudence et générosité. Il travailla énormément à la beauté de la maison de Dieu et à la dignité des cérémonies.
Il fut appelé « Ange de paix » parce qu’il régla d’innombrables conflits. Il lui fut toujours agréable de rendre forts ceux qui étaient faibles dans la foi, d’instruire ceux qui avaient peu d’instruction, de visiter les prisonniers, de remettre sur le droit chemin les marginaux, d’attirer à la pratique de la foi l’âme des enfants et des jeunes. Il passait des jours et des nuits auprès des malades, oubliant ses fatigues et le sommeil, et chaque jour il passait plusieurs heures à confesser les fidèles. Il s’endormit dans le Seigneur à quatre-vingts ans, le 13 décembre 1671. Le Pape Léon XIII l’inscrivit dans le livre des Bienheureux pendant l’Année Sainte 1900.
_______________________________
De la lettre fraternelle à tous les confrères Oratoriens », du Cardinal Alfonso Capecelatro de la Congrégation de l’Oratoire. (Rome, 24 mai 1900, Archives de la Postulation Générale de l’Oratoire).
Fidèle ami du Christ et son infatigable ministre.

« Le vénérable Antonio Grassi, de l’Oratoire de Saint Philippe Néri, est à juste titre à compter parmi les plus fidèles amis du Christ et ses infatigables serviteurs. En effet, pendant quatre-vingt ans, d’autant plus il fut nourri par Dieu avec largesse du pain de la vie et de l’illumination de l’esprit et abreuvé de l’eau de la sagesse qui sauve, d’autant plus il correspondit de jour en jour aux dons de la grâce divine, ne cherchant rien d’autre qu’à devenir conforme à l’image du Fils de Dieu. L’excellence de sa sainteté se distingue surtout dans le fait qu’il développa sa piété et la vertu de religion, qu’il renonça à lui-même, qu’il fut rempli d’ardeur pour le salut des âmes, si bien que des personnes célèbres par leur dignité et leur prudence l’estimaient un véritable émule de Philippe Néri et qu’elles lui demandaient  des prières et des conseils de sagesse céleste » (S.R.C. decr. De Approb. Mirac. 12 novembre 1893).
« Il se montra en effet en tout un grand imitateur du Père Philippe » (S.R.C. Decr. Super T . 11 février 1894.
Il est certain que le Saint-Siège, à juste titre,  émit de très grands éloges de ce genre pour les actions et les gestes du vénérable Serviteur de Dieu.
En effet, avant même sa naissance, et à peine né, il fut considéré comme « saint » et « grand serviteur de Dieu ». Il vit la lumière à Fermo, en 1592, Philippe étant encore vivant, et il fut baptisé par le père Civitella devenu ensuite Prévôt de cette ville. Il fut un homme d’une telle pureté, comme un nouveau saint Bernardin de Sienne ; quand il était encore un enfant la seule présence ou la seule parole : « c’est Antoine », suffisait à détourner ses plus jeunes compagnons de tout discours peu honnête. Et cette vertu angélique fut marquée et donna une suave odeur qui sortait du corps d’Antoine pendant sa vie comme à sa mort, et c’est avec une insupportable puanteur que le Serviteur de Dieu reconnaissait prodigieusement la présence des impurs, et enfin, ce témoignage : une prodigieuse exclamation d’une petite fille de deux ans à peine : « Voici un Ange, voici un Ange », tandis qu’elle désignait plusieurs fois Antoine dans l’église.
Rendu conscient de sa vocation oratorienne par son directeur spirituel, lui-même disciple de Saint Philippe, à seize ans il quitta le monde pour entrer dans la Congrégation de Fermo, Oratoire qu’il fréquentait depuis son enfance.
« Tenant devant ses yeux l’image de Saint Philippe son père et précepteur, il fut tellement toujours constamment semblable à lui dans l’observance des règlements, mêmes les plus petits, qu’il ne s’éloignait ni à droite ni à gauche de l’observance de la loi du Seigneur pendant plus de soixante années. Et sur ces années, pendant trente ans, exemple nouveau et inhabituel, il fut Prévôt de cette Congrégation, et comme une lampe qui brille sur le chandelier il éclaira toujours de cette flamme inextinguible  de ses vertus et il se fit tout à tous pour gagner tous au Christ » (S.R.C. Decr. De approb. Virt. 1 avril 1770).
En 1625, il vint à Rome pour obtenir l’indulgence plénière du grand Jubilé, et là, il donna satisfaction à ses sentiments de piété et de dévotion en visitant surtout les lieux auxquels son très aimé père et patron avait donné l’éclat de son vivant.
Brûlé par l’amour divin, il recherchait un doux repos dans la plaie ouverte du côté du Christ, et, devenu cher à Dieu et aux hommes, il entra en amitié et reçut des louanges de la part d‘illustres disciples de Saint Philippe, dont le père Consolini qui fut très cher au père Philippe. Et même, grâce à sa douceur et à sa renommée de vertu, il attira à lui la famille de la Congrégation de l’Oratoire tout entière, au point que les Philippins des autres Congrégations demandèrent avec des lettres pleines d’amour, comme en compétition entre eux, la dernière bénédiction d’Antoine, désormais époux de la vieillesse et des fatigues.
Il fut un dispensateur de la dévotion mariale ; chaque année, il se rendait en pèlerinage à la Sainte Maison de Lorette où le Verbe se fit chair, et là il jouissait d’élévations admirables et de la douceur de l’Esprit Saint. Il prêchait assidûment les louanges de la Vierge Marie et les chantait avec douceur. Il recourait aussi à Saint Philippe comme médiateur pour obtenir plus efficacement l’intercession de la très sainte Mère de Dieu, en disant : « Tout ce que la bienheureuse Vierge Marie implore par Jésus-Christ son Fils, elle l’obtient ; tout ce que Saint Philippe implore de la Bienheureuse Vierge, il l’obtient ». Pour cette raison, il célébrait avec dévotion les grandes vertus du saint père et il avait l’habitude de dire à ses confrères : « Oh, avec quel honneur et attention nous avons été rendus dignes d’être les fils de Saint Philippe ».
Il résulte des procès apostoliques que toutes les vertus du vénérable Antoine furent héroïques. Pour cela Dieu confirma par des charismes célestes l’extraordinaire sainteté de son serviteur. Orné par Dieu du don de prophétie, de guérisons, de miracles, il transféra sur lui, par un effet de sa charité, les douleurs des autres, il transforma en argent des monnaies de bronze, il se réjouit de la présence désirée et du chant d’un petit moineau ; et bien d’autres prodiges furent mis en lumière.
Surtout lors de sa dernière maladie, il se montra un parfait exemple de patience, tirant de grandes consolations de la pieuse considération des saints stigmates de Saint François desquels, assurait-il, il voulait être rendu participant, en tant qu’inscrit à l’Archiconfrérie des Cordigeri du séraphique Père. Enfin, averti par la Bienheureuse  Vierge Marie, par Saint Philippe, de sa mort très prochaine et du salut éternel, il s’exclama avec une incroyable joie : « Oh, quelle félicité, quelle grande consolation qu’être un fils de Saint Philippe pendant la traversée de cette vie ». Il mourut le 31 décembre 1671.


Blessed Anthony Grassi

Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a “walking dictionary” who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life. More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences. In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.


Blessed Anthony Grassi (1592-1671) entered the Oratory in Fermo at a young age and eventually became its superior. The Fermo Oratory no longer exists, but its memory is perpetuated in Blessed Anthony. His feast day is December 15.
Anthony Grassi was born in 1592, three years before Philip's death, in Fermo, a town of a few thousand inhabitants on the Adriatic coast.  He was the eldest child of five born to a devout middle class family.  Antonio was a good natured and intelligent boy, and quickly gained the respect and admiration of his teachers and friends.  He showed early signs of piety in his frequent attendance of daily Mass which he would serve on his way to school.  The first experience of suffering that Anthony encountered, it seems, was a long illness at the age of ten which was soon followed by the death of his father.  But Anthony's spirit was not to be conquered by life's blows. He took to frequenting the newly founded Oratory in Fermo more often than he used to and received regular spiritual direction from Father Ricci who had known Saint Philip personally. The Fathers all took a liking to Anthony and he in turn presented himself to the Congregation as a postulant just before his seventeenth birthday in 1609.

     Anthony's natural intelligence and love of learning made his studies for the priesthood a pleasant time in his life.  His good memory made it possible for him to acquire an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible, the Fathers of the Church, and the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Anthony also received a spiritual formation to complement his academic achievements.

     Each year Anthony made a pilgrimage to the holy house of Loreto which was only twenty miles away. On one such visit, Anthony was struck by lightning and knocked unconscious. He received the anointing of the sick and the doctors gave him little hope of recovery.  But God had other plans for him.  Anthony was completely healed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin;  and from that time on recognized all the more his dependence on God and sought all the more to dedicate himself completely to His Will.

     In 1625, Anthony went on a pilgrimage to Rome, which turned out to be his only trip away from Fermo except for his yearly pilgrimage to Loretto.  In Rome, Anthony went to see all the places that Saint Philip used to frequent and also to learn as much as he could about Saint Philip from Father Pietro Consolini who had known the Saint intimately.  Anthony meditated upon this knowledge and applied it in his own life for ten years before imparting it more explicitly to others when he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory in 1635. Anthony retained the position of superior for the next 36 years until his death in 1671. In his government of the Oratory, Anthony imitated the gentleness of Saint Philip and of his Divine Master whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

     Perhaps the life of Blessed Anthony does not immediately strike our imagination.  He did not go off half-way across the world to spread the faith as did Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Jean de Brebeuf, or other well known missionaries. He is not known for great feats of physical mortification. He left no learned writings to make his name known in seminaries and universities.  He did not found a religious order or institute.  And his life was not as permeated with the supernatural as was Philip's who also shunned all worldly honours. Anthony's life was a hidden one in a small provincial town in an institute whose priests and brothers should strive to be unknown; and there he found his peace.  Perhaps, the very commonness of his life should make him of special interest to us and to our restless age.

     Anthony accepted that Divine Providence had placed him in Fermo.  He was born there; there was an Oratory there which he liked; there was no need to go elsewhere to seek his vocation.  Anthony was able to discern among the familiar sights of youth a call to a divine work which needs to be carried out among the commonplace.

     Anthony also realized that whatever vocation we are called to, we can be sanctified in it by doing each task well, no matter how menial and seemingly unimportant. One of his oft-repeated maxims was ‘ad litteram, ad litteram’, meaning, to the letter - to follow the rules of the institute to the letter.  This attitude requires humility.  It requires humility to subject ourselves to a law or a lawmaker. And it requires wisdom and humility to recognize that there is virtue in following a rule - whether it be a rule of a religious community, a rule of a place of work, a rule of family life, or one of the ten commandments.  All good laws are there to help us become better as individuals and to smoothen the functioning of society.  When we ignore all laws and rules and act just to please ourselves, order breaks down in society and in our souls; we become slaves to the law of our passions. Anthony feared this breakdown in the harmonious life of the Oratory whose few rules help to establish the spirit of Saint Philip, and, hence, he always demanded that the rule be kept by others and ensured that it was by keeping it himself.

     One of the works that Blessed Anthony was especially known for was visiting the sick and the dying.  He ever kept the reality of death before him which helped him to remain faithful to his vocation. He knew that nothing in this life is permanent, that there is no point in trying to find our complete happiness here but that we must seek it from God in heaven. In 1671, as Blessed Anthony lay dying he said with great joy, "What a beautiful thing it is to die a son of Saint Philip."  
There is no better end to an Oratorian vocation.

Blessed Anthony spent nearly all his life in the region of the Marches, near the east coast of Italy, in and around his home town of Fermo. The 17th century through which he lived was not a time of peace for the local inhabitants. Floods and fires took their toll on the town during his childhood, but the Church in whose patrimony the Marche lay, was quick to rebuilt the town’s prestige. The Jesuits were given the University, the Cathedral chapter restructured, the Capuchin church opened, regular deanery meetings established, and charities created to assist the poor. This was the atmosphere of faith and good works in which Anthony grew up, and throughout his life he exhibited all those qualities. And so when in the explosive year of 1648 the harvest failed and some unscrupulous landowners artificially inflated the price of wheat the townspeople rioted, it was Fr Anthony who brought peace by calling the landowners to their responsibilities and the making sure the poor did not go to bed hungry. For acts such as these he is known as the ‘Angel of Peace’.


He was born on 13thNovember 1592, three years before the death of St Philip Neri in Rome. His father and mother, Vincenzo and Francesca, were of noble families with strong links to the local Church. Piety and gentle love were already forming Anthony at home, and found their natural focus in the Church of the Fathers of the Oratory in the town where he was baptised, now on the Corso Cavour in the town next to the Palace of Justice which was the Oratory house. 

As a schoolboy he would join the Fathers in their prayers and meditations, and served Mass every morning in their church. The influence of the Oratory led Anthony to emulate the Fathers in reading and discussing the lives of the saints, the Sacred Scriptures and Church History. At the Oratory the young Anthony found a true School of Holiness in his formative years; the Church’s feasts and fasts moulding his heart and mind. And unseen by the world he would copy the hidden mortifications of the Oratorians, which helped him to bear serious illness and the death of his father with much fruit. Anthony had 
learnt from the Fathers that God always brings good out of evil, and we must trust him as we carry the Cross towards heaven. 

After the death of his natural father Anthony found his affections turned to a supernatural father, Fr Flaminio Ricci. He had lived with St Philip and brought the Congregation of the Oratory to Fermo. His humour, gentleness and wisdom won Anthony’s total devotion, and he allowed Fr Flaminio to mould his heart in obedience to God following the contours of St Philip heart in humility and joy. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, which enlightens what is good and burns away what is bad, always recognised by the fruits generated in the eager soul; charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, and chastity. 

It was no surprise when Anthony asked to join the Congregation of the Oratory at Fermo, attracted by the joy and determination of the community in putting into practice what he felt interiorly. He was admitted on 11th October 1609 at the age of sixteen, not long after the consecration of the new church dedicated to the Holy Spirit, and began his journey in the Community towards the priesthood, knowing that he would live, work and die in this one household. This was the place where his holiness would be fashioned, where God’s grace would be found; here and nowhere else. After many years he would often exclaim to the Community, and repeat on his death bed, what he knew right from the beginning,“Oh what a beautiful thing to die a child of St Philip!” 

Of course, our fallen nature has to be exercised day after day to cooperate with grace in order to be holy. The sacraments, devotions, prayers, asceticism and the spiritual and corporal works of charity assist in this work of turning our nature around. Anthony had to work hard in grace to mitigate his sometimes choleric temperament by forcing himself to be mild and calm, immediately subduing every motion to grumpiness and irritability. Hair shirts were in comparison easy when compared to the mortification of the temperament in a community. Like St Philip, when asked whether he ever wore a hair shirt he answered with great simplicity that he had not, but with four fingers touching his forehead his indicated another form of hair shirt; the mortification of one’s own opinion and will by life in the Congregation. 

The round of his day was punctuated with prayer in order to keep inner peace, beginning with the community time of meditation. Throughout the day he would say the rosary, dividing the mysteries up for different times of the day and the week. He studied Sacred Scripture each week and together with theological works, especially the Fathers and St Thomas, to feed his mind. His work in the confessional was simple and direct, without long discourses but getting straight to the matter set before him. Again this straightforward manner helped him to prepare many people for their death. He had so conquered his natural tendency to irritability that he was able to show gentleness and kindness to all the Fathers and Brothers, especially when they brought to him their own frustrations with each other, which are the pricks of the hair shirt of communal life where the battle for holiness is waged. 

Of the many stories about Blessed Anthony the most famous concerns his yearly pilgrimage to the Holy House at Loreto, not many miles distant from Fermo. Here he would go to pray in that house where the angel Gabriel came to the Blessed Virgin, where she consented to God’s will, and where the eternal Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. In 1621, when Anthony was 29, he was kneeling in prayer inside the basilica during a terrific thunderstorm. As the storm was raging a bolt of lightning smashed through the window of the church and struck him. He was carried unconscious from the church, and was prepared for death, but he recovered his strength and found himself cured of acute indigestion. He was in perfect health, and all that remained of his close encounter with death were the scorched underclothes from the heat of the lightning. These he donated as a thanksgiving offering to the shrine. Perhaps these unusual relics of Blessed Anthony are still there waiting to be venerated there! 

His life was that unremarkable round of the Oratorian priest in his community, serving the people who came to the Oratory church. His sanctity, like ours, was simply faithfulness and perseverance to his calling trying day after day to be like the Lord. Towards the end of his life he retired more and more to his room. Visitors were frequent, and he was gracious with everyone even when he felt that he would rather not be disturbed, all flowing from the gentleness and patience he had cultivated throughout his life. Finally the Archbishop of Fermo came to administer the Last Rites to him, and attended him in his room night and day. The Fathers and Brothers of the Congregation were summoned to his bedside as his final hour came on the evening of Sunday 13th December, and with the Archbishop they recited the Litany of Loreto, so beloved of Fr Anthony. When they came to the invocation, “Regina Sanctorum Omnium” (Queen of All Saints) he opened his eyes, raised them to an unseen figure near the ceiling, smiled and closed his eyes in death. The room was filled with a beautiful fragrance, which continued around the body for some days. 

The scenes around the church following his death were a riot of piety, so much so that the governor of Fermo had to place soldiers around the building to check the crowds. Thousands of people wanted to touch the body with medals, rosaries and such like, so that at two o’clock in the morning the Archbishop and Fathers of the Oratory finally closed the coffin lid so that preparation could be made for the funeral. 

Fr Anthony was hailed as a‘Second St Philip’, miracles began to be reported, and he was hailed by many as a saint. The Archbishop of Fermo opened his cause for canonisation in 1682, his virtues were declared heroic in 1700, he was declared venerable in 1893, and was eventually beatified by Leo XIII in 1900. His body was translated from his resting place in Oratory church he knew to the Carmelite church in the town, where his body lies exposed for veneration under the Blessed Sacrament altar. Here his body lies, in the town where he was born, lived his hidden life loving God and his neighbour in the humble and joyful model of St Philip.

SOURCE : http://www.manchesteroratory.org/sancti-et-beati/blessed-anthony-grassi

Blessed Antonio Grassi, C.O.

1592-1671, Beatified 1900

Antonio Grassi was born in 1592 in Fermo, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, home to one of the oldest Congregations of the Oratory, which was founded in 1586. Good natured, intelligent, and pious, Antonio’s childhood was simple and austere, and he was educated by the Fathers of the Oratory. After a long illness and the death of his father when he was ten years old, Antonio began spiritual direction under Father Ricci, who had known St. Philip personally. Antonio entered the Fermo Oratory shortly before his 17th birthday, and he was ordained in 1617 at age 25. During his studies for priesthood, he is said to have acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture, the Church Fathers, and Aquinas.
Father Antonio’s devotion to the Blessed Mother led to a most extraordinary experience when in 1621, while praying at the shrine of the Holy House in Loreto, he was struck by lightning. While his clothes were burned and he was knocked unconscious, he was miraculously healed. This experience had a profound effect on the young priest, who dedicated himself all the more to the will of God.
On pilgrimage in Rome during the Holy Year of 1625, Father Antonio visited the important sites of St. Philip and learned much about him from Father Consolini. This knowledge served him well when he was elected provost of the Fermo Oratory, a position he held for 36 years, from 1635 until his death.
Father Antonio exemplified the Oratorian spirit of humility. He was not known for doing anything extraordinary; he was not a missionary, mystic or ascetic. He rarely left the small city where he had been born and raised. He did not need to go elsewhere, for he was content to serve God quietly in the everyday tasks that, when done well, bring about sanctification. He is known to have placed great importance on adherence to the few rules of the Oratory which keep its members close to the spirit of St. Philip.
As a priest, Father Antonio was renowned as a confessor and known as the “priest of the poor” for his extraordinary charity. He was particularly adept at resolving disputes among rivals, earning the moniker “angel of peace”. And he was especially known for his faithfulness in visiting the sick and the dying.
During his own long final illness in 1671, Father Antonio was constantly attended at his bedside by the Archbishop of Fermo. He is said to have repeatedly told his confreres, “What a beautiful thing it is to die as sons of St. Philip.” While the Fermo Oratory no longer exists, Blessed Antonio Grassi’s remains are venerated under the altar of the Church of Mt. Carmel in Fermo. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII during the Holy Year of 1900, the third Oratorian to be so honored.
© 2014 | The New Brunswick Oratory


Beato Antonio Grassi


Fermo, Ascoli Piceno, 13 novembre 1592 - 13 dicembre 1671

Martirologio Romano: A Fermo nelle Marche, beato Antonio Grassi, sacerdote della Congregazione dell’Oratorio, uomo umile e pacifico, che con il suo esempio spinse fortemente molti confratelli all’osservanza della regola. 

Antonio Grassi nacque in una distinta famiglia di Fermo (Ascoli Piceno) il 13 novembre 1592. La sua fanciullezza fu semplice e religiosa: studiò presso il curato di S. Pietro, frequentando la chiesa di S. Spirito dei Padri dell’Oratorio. Incarnò presto lo spirito filippino ed entrò nella congregazione l’11 ottobre 1609. L’Oratorio di Fermo, uno dei più antichi, era nato nel 1586, mentre era ancora in vita S. Filippo Neri (morì nove anni più tardi). Il 17 dicembre 1617, nel Duomo cittadino, il Vescovo Alessandro Strozzi lo ordinò sacerdote. Mansueto e sorridente, Padre Antonio si distinse per l’impegno catechistico, soprattutto nel preparare i ragazzi a ricevere i sacramenti, e per la carità verso gli infermi e i carcerati. Trascorreva molte ore nel confessionale, affermando che il compito principale del sacerdote era compatire, aiutare e consolare.

Nel 1625 andò pellegrino a Roma per lucrare le indulgenze del Giubileo: visitò molte basiliche e i luoghi del Fondatore. Il suo misticismo destò l’ammirazione di tutti. Nel 1635 fu eletto Preposito dei Filippini della sua città, carica che mantenne fino alla morte.

Aveva un carisma eccezionale e tutti, popolani e nobili, vedevano in lui un padre. In quegli anni, nelle Marche, nacquero diverse case di Oratoriani. In una di queste, a Monte S. Giusto, guarì istantaneamente il ginocchio di una donna, Giacoma Pupilli. Eccezionale fu la sua missione di “pacere”, tante le rivalità che riuscì a ripianare, tra persone importanti come tra gli umili. Quest’apostolato fu tanto provvidenziale che il Governatore fece mettere un suo ritratto nel Palazzo di Città. Padre dei poveri, la sua carità era smisurata. In un anno di carestia eccezionale donò ai bisognosi anche le proprie coperte, il soprabito e stese la mano per chiedere l’elemosina che poi distribuì. La sua generosità divenne proverbiale e si raccontano diversi fioretti: Padre Antonio Raccamadoro vide alcune monete di rame tramutarsi nelle sue mani in monete d’argento, nel Conservatorio delle Orfane moltiplicò in abbondanza il vino. Visitava di notte coloro che si vergognavano di ricevere il suo aiuto. Ai confratelli, che alcune volte lo rimproverarono per l’eccessiva generosità, diceva che la Provvidenza non avrebbe fatto mai mancare nulla. Per le elemosine ridusse al minimo le spese della casa.

Devotissimo della Vergine Maria, annuale era il suo pellegrinaggio, finché poté a piedi, alla Santa Casa di Loreto. Qui fu protagonista di un fatto eccezionale: colpito da un fulmine restò illeso sebbene le vesti si bruciarono, era il 4 settembre 1621. Ogni sabato si recava nella chiesa di S. Maria a Mare per celebrarvi la Santa Messa, contribuendo a far rinascere quel Santuario all’epoca quasi abbandonato.

La sua fama di santità arrivò a Roma, conquistando la stima del Papa e dei confratelli. Tra gli altri il Cardinale Colloredo, subito dopo la sua morte, ne istruì il processo di beatificazione. Il Beato Antonio predisse la propria salita al cielo quattro anni prima che avvenisse. Assistito spiritualmente anche dall’arcivescovo di Fermo, che durante i giorni dell’agonia non si allontanò dal suo capezzale, spirò alle ore 22 del 13 dicembre 1671. Immediata fu la fama di santità in tutta Italia e anche in Germania, numerose le grazie e i miracoli a lui attribuiti. Durante l’Anno Santo del 1900, il 30 settembre, Papa Leone XIII lo beatificò. Il suo corpo è custodito, in un’artistica urna di cristallo, sotto la mensa dell’altare maggiore della Chiesa del Carmine di Fermo. Il complesso conventuale in cui visse tutta la vita di sacerdote, per cinquantacinque anni, è oggi sede del tribunale.

La sua data di culto è stata fissata nel Martyrologium Romanum al 13 dicembre, mentre la Congregazione dell'Oratorio di San Filippo Neri lo celebra il 15 dicembre.

Autore: 
Daniele Bolognini