lundi 12 juin 2017

Saint GASPARE LUIGI BERTONI, prêtre et fondateur


Saint Gaspare Bertoni

Fondateur de la Congrégation des saints stigmates de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ ( 1853)

Béatifié le 1er novembre 1975 à Rome par Paul VI et canonisé le 1er novembre 1989 à Rome par Jean-Paul II.

Gaspare Bertoni (1777-1853) ordonné prêtre le 20 septembre 1800 fonde la Congrégation des saints stigmates de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ pour le ministère paroissial, les écoles et l'éducation. Précurseur de l'Action  catholique.

À Vérone en Vénétie, l’an 1853, saint Gaspar Bertoni, prêtre, qui institua la Congrégation des Sacrés Stigmates de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ, dont les membres missionnaires seraient au service des évêques.

Martyrologe romain


Saint Gaspard Bertoni

Gaspard Bertoni naquit le 9 octobre 1777 à Vérone. Il suit l'école chez les jésuites jusqu'à leur suppression, mais leur "Congrégation mariale" subsiste et Gaspard reste sous l'influence de l'un des Pères qui deviendra Général de la Compagnie après son rétablissement. A partir de 18 ans, il suit en externe les cours du séminaire. Puis c'est l'invasion française (1er juin 1796) qui pendant 20 ans troublera l'ordre de la région. Gaspard se consacre au soin des malades et des blessés au sein d'une "Fraternité évangélique pour les hôpitaux".

Ordonné prêtre le 20 septembre 1800 il fonde une "Cohorte mariale" destinée à la formation chrétienne et sociale des jeunes, qui sera supprimée en 1807 par décret napoléonien. Il s'occupe aussi de la direction spirituelle d’une communauté fondée par sainte Madeleine de Canossa. Il y rencontre Léopoldine Naudet qu'il aide à fonder les "Sœurs de la sainte Famille". Il aide également Téodora Campostrini à discerner sa vocation et à fonder les "Sœurs minimes de Notre Dame des douleurs"

Après la mort de sa mère en 1810, son évêque lui confie la direction spirituelle des séminaristes, alors que le Souverain Pontife est prisonnier de Napoléon. Il y développe un attachement inconditionnel au pape.

Le lendemain d'une extase devant le Crucifix (30 mai 1812), il est frappé par la fièvre miliaire. Il échappe à la mort presque miraculeusement, mais il restera malade pour les 41 années qui lui restent à vivre. De son lit, il est un ange de consolation pour des âmes innombrables, en particulier pour les personnes qui cherchent à fonder des œuvres charitables. Après l'abdication de Napoléon en 1814 et le retour de l'Italie dans l'influence autrichienne, Gaspard Bertoni comprend qu'il faut enseigner les grandes vérités de la foi au moyen de missions populaires afin de ramener les égarés dans la bergerie. Le 14 novembre 1816, il fonde avec deux compagnons une congrégation destinée à répandre la dévotion à la Passion du Christ et à ses plaies, les « Stigmatins ». En décembre 1817, le pape Pie VII le nomme "missionnaire apostolique". Malgré les entraves du gouvernement autrichien, il continue prédication et catéchèse jusqu’à son rappel à Dieu le 12 juin 1853 à Vérone. « De quoi avez-vous besoin ? », lui demande son infirmier le matin : - « J’ai besoin de souffrir », répond-il.


Saint Gaspard BERTONI

Nom: BERTONI
Prénom: Gaspard (Gaspare)
Nom de religion: Gaspard (Gaspare)
Pays: Italie

Naissance: 09.10.1777  à Vérone
Mort: 12.06.1853  à Vérone
Etat: Prêtre - Religieux - Fondateur

Note: Prêtre le 20.09.1800 – Fonde la Congrégation des saints stigmates de N.-S. Jésus-Christ pour le ministère paroissial, les écoles et l'éducation. Précurseur de l'Action  catholique.

Béatification: 01.11.1975  à Rome par Paul VI
Canonisation: 01.11.1989  à Rome  par Jean Paul II
Fête: 12 juin

Réf. dans l’Osservatore Romano: 1989 n.45
Réf. dans la Documentation Catholique: 1976 p.48 - 1990 p.47

Notice

Gaspare (Gaspard) Bertoni naît en 1777 à Vérone dans la République de Venise, dans une famille aisée et surtout très croyante où, traditionnellement, des deux côtés, on exerçait la profession de notaire. Après la mort d'une sœur plus jeune il reste enfant unique. Il suit l'école chez les jésuites jusqu'à leur suppression, mais leur "Congrégation mariale" subsiste et Gaspard reste sous l'influence de l'un des Pères qui deviendra Général de la Compagnie après son rétablissement. A partir de 18 ans, il suit en externe les cours du séminaire. Puis c'est l'invasion française (1er juin 1796) qui pendant 20 ans troublera l'ordre de la région. Gaspard se livre au soin des malades et des blessés au sein d'une "Fraternité évangélique pour les hôpitaux".

Il est ordonné prêtre le 20 septembre 1800 et jette toutes ses forces dans l'apostolat. Il fonde un premier Oratoire ou "Cohorte mariale" destinée à la formation chrétienne et sociale des jeunes, mais supprimée en 1807 par décret napoléonien. Don Gaspard, pour continuer, attend des jours meilleurs. Entre-temps il s'occupe de direction spirituelle dans une communauté fondée par Sainte Madeleine de Canossa  2 (1774-1835 cf. n°17). Il y rencontre la Servante de Dieu Léopoldine Naudet qu'il aide à fonder les "Sœurs de la sainte Famille". Il aide également la Servante de Dieu Téodora Campostrini à discerner sa vocation et à fonder les "Sœurs minimes de notre Dame des douleurs"

Déjà, avant la mort de sa mère en 1810, il reçoit chez lui des aspirants au sacerdoce pour leur donner une formation spirituelle et intellectuelle solide. Après ce décès, il déménage et l'évêque lui confie la direction spirituelle des séminaristes. En fait le séminaire traversait une crise financière et morale désastreuse. Don Gaspard prend pour base l'attachement inconditionnel au Souverain Pontife (qui, pour lors, est prisonnier de Napoléon) car le Pape est et demeure la pierre "première et inamissible" de L'Eglise. En peu de temps, il relève le séminaire, lequel revêt un aspect "monastique" comme le rapporte un témoin. Don Gaspard pense que la réforme de l'Eglise doit commencer par le sanctuaire et le retour de ses ministres à une suite intégrale de l'Évangile.

Le lendemain d'une extase devant le Crucifix (30 mai 1812), il est frappé par la fièvre miliaire. Il échappe à la mort presque miraculeusement, mais il restera malade pour les 41 années qui lui restent à vivre. De son lit, il est un ange de consolation pour des âmes innombrables, en particulier pour les personnes qui cherchent à fonder des œuvres charitables, comme le bienheureux Charles Steeb  2 . Après l'abdication de Napoléon (1814) et le retour de l'Italie à l'influence autrichienne, don Bertoni comprend qu'il faut enseigner les grandes vérités de la foi au moyen de missions populaires afin de ramener les égarés dans la bergerie. Le 14 novembre 1816, dans une église désaffectée, dédiée jadis aux stigmates de saint François, il fonde avec deux compagnons une congrégation dédiée, elle, aux stigmates de Notre Seigneur – les stigmatins – et destinée à répandre la dévotion à la Passion du Christ et à ses plaies. En décembre 1817, le pape Pie VII le nomme "missionnaire apostolique" mais le gouvernement autrichien soupçonneux lui met des entraves. Il continue comme il peut avec la prédication et la catéchèse.

Vraie image du Christ crucifié, il subit presque 300 opérations à la jambe droite. Il pense qu'il ne souffrira jamais assez pour le bien de l'Eglise et le salut des âmes. Lorsque, finalement, l'infirmier lui demande: "Père, avez-vous besoin de quelque chose?" – "J'ai besoin de souffrir" répond-il dans un dernier souffle. C'était le Dimanche 12 juin 1853 à 15h 30.


Gaspar Bertoni

Prêtre, Religieux, Fondateur, Saint

1777-1853

Gaspare (Gaspard) Bertoni naît en 1777 à Vérone dans la République de Venise, dans une famille aisée et surtout très croyante où, traditionnellement, des deux côtés, on exerçait la profession de notaire. Après la mort d'une sœur plus jeune il reste enfant unique. Il suit l'école chez les jésuites jusqu'à leur suppression, mais leur "Congrégation mariale" subsiste et Gaspard reste sous l'influence de l'un des Pères qui deviendra Général de la Compagnie après son rétablissement. A partir de 18 ans, il suit en externe les cours du séminaire. Puis c'est l'invasion française (1er juin 1796) qui pendant 20 ans troublera l'ordre de la région. Gaspard se livre au soin des malades et des blessés au sein d'une "Fraternité évangélique pour les hôpitaux".
Il est ordonné prêtre le 20 septembre 1800 et jette toutes ses forces dans l'apostolat. Il fonde un premier Oratoire ou "Cohorte mariale" destinée à la formation chrétienne et sociale des jeunes, mais supprimée en 1807 par décret napoléonien. Don Gaspard, pour continuer, attend des jours meilleurs. Entre-temps il s'occupe de direction spirituelle dans une communauté fondée par Sainte Madeleine de Canossa (1774-1835 cf. n°17). Il y rencontre la Servante de Dieu Léopoldine Naudet qu'il aide à fonder les "Sœurs de la sainte Famille". Il aide également la Servante de Dieu Téodora Campostrini à discerner sa vocation et à fonder les "Sœurs minimes de notre Dame des douleurs"
Déjà, avant la mort de sa mère en 1810, il reçoit chez lui des aspirants au sacerdoce pour leur donner une formation spirituelle et intellectuelle solide. Après ce décès, il déménage et l'évêque lui confie la direction spirituelle des séminaristes. En fait le séminaire traversait une crise financière et morale désastreuse. Don Gaspard prend pour base l'attachement inconditionnel au Souverain Pontife (qui, pour lors, est prisonnier de Napoléon) car le Pape est et demeure la pierre "première et inamissible" de L'Eglise. En peu de temps, il relève le séminaire, lequel revêt un aspect "monastique" comme le rapporte un témoin. Don Gaspard pense que la réforme de l'Eglise doit commencer par le sanctuaire et le retour de ses ministres à une suite intégrale de l'Evangile.
Le lendemain d'une extase devant le Crucifix (30 mai 1812), il est frappé par la fièvre miliaire. Il échappe à la mort presque miraculeusement, mais il restera malade pour les 41 années qui lui restent à vivre. De son lit, il est un ange de consolation pour des âmes innombrables, en particulier pour les personnes qui cherchent à fonder des œuvres charitables, comme le bienheureux Charles Steeb. Après l'abdication de Napoléon (1814) et le retour de l'Italie à l'influence autrichienne, don Bertoni comprend qu'il faut enseigner les grandes vérités de la foi au moyen de missions populaires afin de ramener les égarés dans la bergerie. Le 14 novembre 1816, dans une église désaffectée, dédiée jadis aux stigmates de saint François, il fonde avec deux compagnons une congrégation dédiée, elle, aux stigmates de Notre Seigneur — les stigmatins — et destinée à répandre la dévotion à la Passion du Christ et à ses plaies. En décembre 1817, le pape Pie VII le nomme "missionnaire apostolique" mais le gouvernement autrichien soupçonneux lui met des entraves. Il continue comme il peut avec la prédication et la catéchèse.
Vraie image du Christ crucifié, il subit presque 300 opérations à la jambe droite. Il pense qu'il ne souffrira jamais assez pour le bien de l'Eglise et le salut des âmes. Lorsque, finalement, l'infirmier lui demande: "Père, avez-vous besoin de quelque chose?" — "J'ai besoin de souffrir" répond-il dans un dernier souffle. C'était le Dimanche 12 juin 1853 à 15h 30.
Béatifié le 1er novembre 1975, à Rome, par Paul VI.
Canonisé le 1er novembre 1989, à Rome, par Jean Paul II.


Spoglie di San Gaspare Bertoni nella Chiesa delle Stimmate a Verona



GASPAR BERTONI was born in Verona, in the Republic of Venice, on October 9, 1777, of Francis Bertoni and Brunora Ravelli of Sirmione. He was baptized the following day by his grand-uncle, Fr. James Bertoni, in the parish church of St. Paul, in the Campo Marzo section of Verona. On both sides of the family, the profession of "Notary" was exercised, and from an old legal document, it can be seen that the family was fairly well off. Even more outstanding, however, was the practice of the faith.

Following the death of his baby sister, young Gaspar remained the only child. He had the benefit of an excellent education both at home and at St. Sebastian's school, that was conducted by the municipality after the suppression of the Jesuits. They, however, continued teaching and also in the direction of the Marian Congregation. Young Bertoni here came under the influence of Fr. Louis Fortis, who would in the future be the first Jesuit General after the reinstatement of the Company of Jesus.

From the grace of his first Holy Communion at age 11, Gaspar Bertoni was called to a life of mystical union. His vocation to the priesthood matured, and at 18, he entered the seminary. In frequenting the theological course as an extern student, he found in his professor of moral theology, Fr. Nicholas Galvani, an excellent spiritual director.

During his first year of theology, he witnessed the invasion of the French armies (June 1, 1796). This was the beginning of a 20 year period of great upheaval for his native city. Inspired by deep charity, he dedicated himself to the assistance of the sick and wounded, as a member of a Gospel Fraternity for the Hospitals, that had just then been instituted by the Servant of God, Fr. Peter Leonardi.

At his priestly ordination (September 20, 1800), at the dawn of a new century, he found himself in a world in need of much assistance for the resolution of the serious problems that disturbed it.

His pastor assigned the youth of parish to his pastoral care. He dedicated himself with all his energies and great organizational ability to the new mission. He established an Oratory in the form of a "Marian Cohort", that had as its goal the Christian and social formation of the youth. All such organizations were suppressed by a decree from Napoleon (1807), and Fr. Bertoni reserved the carrying out of his plans for better times.

Meanwhile, he took over the spiritual direction of a community founded then by St. Magdalena of Canossa at St. Joseph's Convent (May 1808). It was here that he met the Servant of God, Leopoldina Naudet, whom he would then spiritually guide to the heights of the mysticism of holy abandonment and to the foundation of the Sisters of the Holy Family. He extended this aspect of his ministry to another Servant of God, Teodora Campostrini, of a noble family, both in the discernment of her vocation, as in the foundation of her Community, of the "Sorelle Minime" of the Charity of the Sorrowful Mother.

By September of 1810, he had already moved from his family home after the death of his mother, and was transferred from St. Paul's Parish, to St. Firmus Major. Here, the bishop also entrusted him with the spiritual direction of the seminarians in the diocesan seminary. A solid spiritual and theological formation of the young was always the clear objective of the frequent gatherings that he held in his own home. At this time, he began to organize this endeavor in a more orderly fashion. His overall idea was the renewal of the clergy based on an unconditional adherence to the Supreme Pontiff, Pius VII, at that time, Napoleon's prisoner. For Fr. Bertoni, the Pontiff, was always "the first and irremovable stone" of the Church. The reform of the Church had to begin from the sanctuary itself, with the return of its ministers to the integral following of the Gospel. The diocesan seminary was going through a very bad crisis. However, in a short time it regained its proper form, and even assumed a monastic aspect as a contemporary witness stated.


With the fall of Napoleon, the need for restoration was widely felt. Fr. Bertoni clearly understood that to gather the flock once again, it would be necessary to awaken them by the presentation of the fundamental truths of the faith through the preaching of missions to the people. On December 20, 1817, Pope Pius VII conferred on him a precise mandate, by conferring on him the faculty of "apostolic missionary". While the suspicious government of Austria forbade this specific ministry, Fr. Bertoni dedicated himself to other preaching and catechetical instruction.


While becoming all things to gain all for Christ, Fr. Bertoni cultivated a very intense interior life. From the reading of his Spiritual Diary, it appears that he was also grace by mystical gifts. Among these, was the call, made evident to him by grace, to the foundation of a religious family.

On November 4, 1816, with two companions, he moved into a small house, adjacent to a suppressed Church, that bore the title of "the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis (from this, the name of his community was eventually adapted; in this small church, he also worked to spread the devotion to the Passion and the wounds of Christ). In a very unostentatious manner, the new community opened a tuition-free school, offering this and other gratuitous services to the Church and society. The men lived together a common life of strict observance and penance. An intense life of contemplation was joined to a broad apostolate, including the Christian education of the youth, the formation of the clergy and missionary preaching, in perfect availability to the requests of the bishop.

Right after an ecstasy that he experienced praying before a Crucifix (on May 30, 1812), he suffered a first attack of "miliary fever" that brought him to the very threshold of death. Almost miraculously, he did recover but for the rest of his 41 years of life he remained in poor health, all this while giving a wonderful example of patience and heroic confident abandonment to God.

Even from his sick-bed, suffering indescribable discomfort, he became the "angel of counsel" for countless persons who sought him out. A number among these were gifted human beings, who were founding charitable works, such as Blessed Charles Steeb, the Servants of God, Fr. Nicholas Mazza and Fr. Anthony Provolo - and others from outside the city, who came to Verona to meet with him.


An authentic image of Christ Crucified, with his nearly 300 surgical procedures on his right leg that he endured, he could not suffer enough for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. Once his infirmarian asked him if he needed anything - and among his last words were: "I need to suffer".

In a vision of vivid hope in the Risen Christ, bearing the signs of His Triumph, and supported by the Holy Spouses and Patrons, Mary and Joseph, he died a holy death, at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, June 12, 1853.


His Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, enriched by so many sufferings, gradually spread beyond Verona, to other cities in Italy, and then to the United States, to Brazil (where it presently has 6 Bishops), to Chile, to the Philippines and to mission territories: South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Thailand.

Saint Gaspare Bertoni

Also known as
  • Caspar Bertoni
  • Gaspar Bertoni
  • The Apostolic Missionary
Profile

Son of Francis, a wealthy lawyer and notary, and Brunora Ravelli Bertoni, he was raised in a pious family. His beloved sister died when Gaspare was quite young. He was educated at home, then by Jesuits and the Marian Congregation at Saint Sebastian’s School in Verona, Italy.

At his first Communion Gaspare received a vision and message that he was to become a priest, and he entered the seminary in 1796. On 1 June 1796, troops from Revolutionary France began a 20 year occupation of northern Italy. Gaspar joined the Gospel Fraternity for Hospitals, and worked to help those wounded, ill, displaced, or otherwise harmed by the occupation. Ordained on 20 September 1800.

Chaplain to the sisters of Saint Magdalen Canossa convent. Spiritual director to many including Venerable Leopoldina Naudet, Venerable Teodora Campestrini, and an entire seminary. Well known preacher. One of the leaders in a Europe-wide movement to offer prayers and support for Pope Pius VII when he was imprisoned by Napolean Bonaparte. Established the Marian Oratories. Organized free schools for the poor. Spread devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ.

Founded the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Stigmatines) on 4 November 1816. Their mission was to serve as “Apostolic Missionaries for the assistance of bishops”, and they were under the patronage of Mary and Joseph.

Beset by fevers and a continuing infection in his right leg during the last two decades of his life. Over 300 operations were performed on his leg in an effort to stem the infection. Continued to serve as counselor and spiritual director from his hospital bed.

Born

ST. GASPAR BERTONI

St. Gaspar was a well known preacher and spiritual director. He was born to a rich family in Verona, Italy, in 1777. At his first Communion, he received a vision and message that he was to enter the priesthood. He entered the seminary in 1796, when French troops began a 20-year occupation of northern Italy. Gaspar volunteered to help those who were wounded, ill or displaced.
After his ordination in 1800, he helped to establish free schools for the poor. He also helped to organize a European movement to offer prayers for Pope Pius VII, who was imprisoned by Napolean Bonaparte.
In 1816, he founded the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He died 19 years later, in 1835,  after years of fighting an infection in his right leg. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1989.



St. Gaspar Bertoni was born in Verona, Italy, October 9, 1777.  He lived during one of the most challenging periods of history and sought to meet the terrible problems of his time with a response suggested to him from his vivid faith and ardent charity and concern for others.

In his spirit of abandonment to God, and service to the Church, he was guided by the Holy Spirit to found a Congregation called “Stigmatines”, whom he wanted to be “Apostolic Missionaries for the Assistance of Bishops.”

He was a man of deep prayer, much devoted to the Five Wounds of Christ (the Sacred Stigmata) and the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, Patrons of the Stigmatine Congregation. In the course of his lifetime, he was blessed by God with true mystical gifts, which led him to a very sublime level of union with God and service to others.

From the age of about 35, until his death at the age of 76, his life was a long succession of great physical suffering. Many times during this long period he was at the very threshold of death.

Even from his bed, and the long years that he was confined to his room, Fr. Bertoni continued his ministry, as a teacher, even as preacher of what we might call “Directed Retreats,” and especially as minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spiritual guide for the many who sought him out.

The synthesis of his response to God might be summed up in these words: a filial and confident abandonment into the hands of God, even in the most difficult circumstances of his life.

Pope John Paul II declared him “Saint” on November 1, 1989.
The Spiritual Profile of St. Gaspar Bertoni: Its Feature and Spirit
Biography by Rev. John Ceresatto, CSS  [1991]

Fr. John Ceresatto’s life as an Apostolic Missionary in young Churches – as well as his ‘Popular’ [but well documented] biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni, have both been an inspiration to generations of Stigmatines. After years of service in China, he then went directly to Thailand over 50 years ago – and there he died in 2011, age 95. He was an accomplished linguist and musician. Like St. Gaspar, he was able to use these talents in his Apostolic Mission.

It is a joy to offer his work here. He presents Fr. Bertoni as the Apostolic Missionary to the Youth, and then to Religious and Clergy – and, finally, in ‘every Ministry of the Word of God whatsoever’. This Missionary Development was lived in an intensification of St. Gaspar’s mystical graces in his Apostolic Service.
The Spiritual Profile of St. Gaspar Bertoni by Rev. John Ceresatto, CSS - Biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni by Rev. John Ceresatto, CSS. Translation into English by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS.
 Blessed Gaspar Bertoni
Short biography by Rev. Donald Saulnier, CSS [1987]

In this wonderful short biography, Fr. Saulnier looks at Fr. Bertoni as a man ahead of his time; a man who jumped into the mainstream of the circumstances that enveloped him and worked to bring about positive changes. St. Gaspar was a man who was ‘doer’ in life, not afraid to struggle for his convictions, who believed so strongly in his goals that he sought to overcome all odds to achieve them. He was a man who found himself developing a deep sense of hope, which translated itself into action and a community of men, Priests and Brothers, which would continue to serve God, long after he returned to his Creator.

Blessed Gaspar Bertoni - by Rev. Donald Saulnier, CSS - Short biography of St. Gaspar Bertoni by Rev. Donald Saulnier, CSS

Bem-Aventurado Gaspar Bertoni - por Pe. Donald Saulnier, CSS - Tradução para a língua Portuguesa por Tereza Lopes [leiga Estigmatina]

San Gaspare Luigi Bertoni


Verona, 9 ottobre 1777 - Verona, 12 giugno 1853

Nato a Verona il 9 ottobre 1777, a 18 anni risponde alla chiamata al sacerdozio, ma proprio mentre inizia il corso di teologia la sua città subisce l'invasione straniera. Il giovane chierico si distingue per l'assistenza ai malati e ai feriti, entrando a far parte dell'«Evangelica Fratellanza degli Spedalieri». Ordinato sacerdote il 20 settembre 1800, gli viene affidata la cura spirituale della gioventù. Nel maggio 1808 viene chiamato a dirigere spiritualmente la nascente Congregazione delle Figlie della Carità, fondate da santa Maddalena di Canossa; guida anche la serva di Dio Leopoldina Naudet, fondatrice delle Sorelle della Sacra Famiglia. Con alcuni compagni formati nei suoi Oratori, nel 1816 dà inizio " presso la Chiesa delle Stimmate di San Francesco " all'istituto religioso dei «Missionari apostolici in aiuto dei vescovi», detto poi delle «Stimmate di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo». Provato da continue malattie, muore a Verona il 12 giugno 1853. Giovanni Paolo II lo proclama santo il 1° ottobre 1989. (Avv.)

Etimologia: Gaspare = amabile maestro, dal persiano

Martirologio Romano: A Verona, san Gaspare Bertoni, sacerdote, che fondò la Congregazione delle Sacre Stimmate del Signore nostro Gesù Cristo, perché i suoi membri fossero missionari a servizio dei vescovi.

Fin da studente ha visto le cose mutare di continuo. La sua Verona passa dal dominio veneziano a quello francese e poi a quello austriaco. Negli anni dello studio umanistico, ha come direttore spirituale un testimone diretto di questo travaglio: padre Luigi Fortis, gesuita della diaspora dopo la soppressione forzosa della Compagnia di Gesù, e destinato a diventarne poi, negli anni della rinascita, il ventesimo Generale. 

Gaspare non si avvia alla carriera notarile, impiego tradizionale nella sua famiglia. Entra invece in seminario nel 1795, a 18 anni, ed è ordinato sacerdote a 23. Per Verona intanto si preparano altre novità: nel 1801 la città verrà coinvolta nella spartizione tra Francia e Austria; quattro anni dopo passerà al Regno italico di Napoleone, e nel 1814 ricadrà sotto l’Austria. 

Tra tutti questi mutamenti, la storia personale di Gaspare Bertoni sembra stingersi nella monotonia: sempre a Verona, sempre nella stessa parrocchia... Ma in quel suo angolino c’è uno straordinario dinamismo. Dirà di lui papa Paolo VI: "Si prodiga per i concittadini curando le piaghe lasciate dalla guerra; e avendo avvertito l’urgenza di curare la gioventù, che vedeva in balia di sé stessa, priva di formazione, egli, nella povertà e umiltà più assoluta, raccoglie ragazzi e giovani nel suo primo oratorio, che sorge col nome di Coorte mariana". 

L’oratorio, e poi la scuola gratuita. Ecco pronto il nuovo strumento formativo, di cui il regime napoleonico intuisce presto la forza innovativa, decidendo di sopprimerlo. Anche se poi la storia sopprimerà il regime napoleonico, mentre gli oratori si moltiplicheranno, dappertutto. 

Gaspare Bertoni è un eccezionale formatore di sacerdoti, sia come padre spirituale in seminario, sia come maestro in casa sua, negli incontri o nelle “conferenze”. Gli bastano la cultura, la parola, l’esempio. E quale esempio: insegna e sprona dal suo letto di malato per vent’anni, tra sofferenze e continui interventi chirurgici. Nel 1816 ha fondato presso la chiesa delle Stimmate i Missionari Apostolici, detti appunto Stimmatini, come forza evangelizzatrice a disposizione dei vescovi. 

E questa forza è viva anche oggi, in Italia e nel mondo, dove c’è "urgenza di curare la gioventù", come ha detto Paolo VI. Nell’Ottocento ha avuto grande valore la presenza degli Stimmatini, in momenti difficili, accanto ai missionari africani di Comboni, il quale in gioventù aveva ascoltato, al capezzale di Gaspare Bertoni, il “preventivo” del suo impegno per la “Nigrizia”: "Nessuna delicatezza è concessa a chi si è rivestito di Cristo crocifisso". 

Alla sua morte, Gaspare Luigi Bertoni è stato sepolto nella chiesa veronese delle Stimmate. Il 1° ottobre del 1989 Giovanni Paolo II lo ha proclamato santo.


Autore: Domenico Agasso