samedi 3 mars 2018


Beato Innocenzo Berzo, Berzo Inferiore, Val Camonica

Saint Innocent de Berzo

Prêtre capucin ( 1890)

Jean Scalvinoni, prêtre de l’Ordre des Frères Mineurs Capucins, qui s’illustra par une parfaite charité dans la diffusion de la parole de Dieu et dans l’audition des confessions. Il mourut à Bergame en Lombardie.

À Bergame, en Lombardie, l’an 1890, le bienheureux Innocent de Berzo (Jean Scalvinoni), prêtre de l’Ordre des Frères Mineurs Capucins, qui s’illustra par une parfaite charité dans la diffusion de la parole de Dieu et dans l’écoute des confessions.

Martyrologe romain

Casa natale del Beato Innocenzo a Niardo

Prière du Bienheureux Innocent de Berzo

Voici la Prière « Ô Marie, nous devons faire comme Toi : mourir… » de Giovanni Scalvinoni (1844-1890), en religion Innoncent de Berzo reconnu Bienheureux par le Saint Pape Jean XXIII, Prêtre de l’Ordre des Frères Mineurs Capucins qui s’illustra par une parfaite charité dans la diffusion de la Parole de Dieu, dans l’audition des confessions, par sa grande dévotion à Notre-Dame et qui aimait passer de longues heures devant le Saint Sacrement en particulier tard dans la nuit.

La Prière Mariale du Bx Innocent de Berzo « Ô Marie, nous devons faire comme Toi : mourir… » : 

« Ô Marie, pour que nous soyons capables d’être élevés avec Toi au ciel, nous devons faire comme Toi : mourir. Mais notre mort n'est pas en notre pouvoir. Alors comment mourir ? En vivant comme si nous étions morts, en ne gardant rien à nous : ni nos yeux, ni nos oreilles, ni nos goûts. Et en disposant nos vertus sur une couche : la Croix du Christ. C'est le lieu de notre repos. Ainsi soit-il. » 

Bienheureux Innocent de Berzo (1844-1890)

Cella del Beato Innocenzo presso il Santuario dell'Annunciata di Piancogno

Blessed Innocent of Berzo

(Blessed Innocent de Berzo)

Feast Day – March 3
This saintly and wise educator of youth, Blessed Innocent of Berzo, came from Niardo and was a secular priest before his entrance into the Capuchin Order. On April 16, 1874, when he was already thirty years old, he received the habit of St Francis and soon attracted the attention of all by his extraordinary virtues. He was appointed assistant novice-master, and director of the candidates for the order.

It was a fortunate choice, especially as Father Innocent followed the educational principles of St Francis. He paid due attention to exterior mortification, especially to bridling the tongue and to religious decorum. Interior mortification, however, he looked upon as the all-important thing, realizing that external discipline without interior compliance is hypocrisy and unwelcome tyranny, which in time degenerates into outright perversity. With real prudence he often said with St Francis:

“Let everyone pay attention to his own nature. For, while one person can get along with less indulgence, I would not have another, who requires more, try to imitate him; but rather let him take his own nature into account and grant it what it truly needs. Just as we must guard against superfluity of food, so must we beware of too great abstinence. God wants mercy, not sacrifice.”

Charity was the soul of his educational methods. He loved his pupils, and they loved him. Teacher and pupils were united in the bond of most intmate understanding.

Blessed Innocent of Berzo died on March 3, 1890. His hallowed remains rest with the Capuchins in Berzo. The process of his beatification was begun under Pope Benedict XV.

*from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm

Cappella adiacente alla cella del Beato Innnocenzo

Blessed Innocent of Berzo

A Seesaw of Promotion and Demotion

Whatever job John Scalvinoni got he never seemed to keep it for long. After his ordination as a priest his bishop appointed him as Rector of the Diocesan Seminary, only to sack him a year later, because he was evidently not cut out to exercise authority. He returned to parochial pastoral work in his native Berzo, seemingly taking to it like the proverbial duck to water, only to leave the diocesan priesthood altogether a mere four years later and join the Capuchins in 1874 as Brother Innocent of Berzo. His first assignment after Perpetual Profession was that of Vice Novice Master at Bergamo’s Annunziata Novitiate Friary; but when the novitiate moved to Lovere a year later, Brother innocent was left behind with no particular job to do. In 1880, a year later, the Ministers thought they had at last found a niche for him, appointing him to the editorial board of the prestigious publication ‘Annali Francescani’. Within a few months, however, he had to be taken off that job and returned to obscurity of the Friary living. One thing Brother Innocent seemed to be excel at was living a life of holiness and the Ministers, wishing to make use of this, appointed him Provincial Retreat Master for his confreres‘s annual retreat in 1889 but he fell ill on the job and had to be rushed to the infirmary where he died on the 3rd of March 1890. Blessed Innocent’s body rests in the church of the Annunciata Friary.

The Widow’s Son Becomes a Zealous Priest

Born in his mother’s hometown of Niardo, Brescia, North Italy, on the 19th of March 1844, John Scalvinoni, the future Brother Innocent, was the son of Frances Poli and Peter Scalvinoni, a native of nearby Berzo. His father died when he was but a few months old and young John was brought up by his widowed mother, who had him educated the Lovere muncipal college in Bergamo where he excelled at studies. In 1861, he entered the Diocesan Seminary at Brescia and was ordained a priest in 1867. From his seminary days he began to write down “Spiritual Regulations”, guidelines for himself so as to make progress in the spiritual life. After his ordination his cultivation of the interior life only grew more intense. As a diocesan priest he was noted for his preaching, spiritual direction and ministry in the confessional. He was also noted for his generosity to the poor and his mother had to keep a close eye on him lest he gave away everything in the house to some poor person at the door!

A Humble and Cheerful Capuchin

After becoming a Capuchin of the Province of Lombardy, Brother Innocent of Berzo continued to deepen his intense life of prayer and to crown his deeply human fraternal and pastoral love of neighbour by cheerfully accepting whatever humiliations might come his way. In fact, cheerful humility was a hallmark of his life. As a Capcuhin, he would hours of amusement to his fellow novices by spending hours clumsily sowing clothes that had already been sown and repaired many times over. He had a remarkable intellectual grasp of philosophical and theological questions and sometimes could be prevailed upon by his Brothers to expound animatedly at length on some of these. A diocesan priest Don Girolamo Maccanelli once wrote that Brother Innocent “ was one of the best moral theologians in the valley.” But he also knew how to hide his learning, except when charity demanded he elucidate on some problem or other. His obedience was exemplary even when it came to the most trifling of matters. Though tortured interiorly with an almost physical horror of sin in others and worried often about his own eternal salvation, he always maintained an outward attitude of cheerfulness and joy.

The Secret of his Joy was Prayer

The secret of his joy was his intense life of prayer. He loved to spend long hours before the Blessed Sacrament, especially late at night. In fact his desire to live in the same house as Jesus had been a factor that influenced his decision to join the Capuchins in the first place. One day, when on a pastoral assignment, he ended up getting locked inside the church for the night by a forgetful parish priest. Next morning the priest found Brother Innocent rapt in prayer, his eyes wide open and his face radiant with happiness. The other great focus of his prayer life was the Passion of Christ. He performed the Way of the Cross several times daily and recommended the practice to his penitents in confession. The Eucharist and the Passion, as well sa devotion to Our Lady, were also the major themes of his preaching.

The Useless Servant Inherits the Kingdom of Heaven

Whenever his superiors gave him a minor assignment, he seemed to do it exceptionally well. But as soon as they assigned him greater responsibility, he ended up making a mess of things and had to be relieved of office. They never seemed to be able to find the right spot for him. But the fact that he was beatified by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1961, just 71 years after his death, indicates that the Lord managed to find the right spot for him in Paradise saying to him - “Come, you, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.”

"Jesus is offended by everyone in the world: it is up to me to not leave Him alone in his affliction. The love of God does not consist in great sentiments but in great openness and patience for the sake of the Beloved God. There is no other better way for guarding the spirit than suffering, doing and keeping silent. I have a great desire to be subject to all and in horror to be preferred the least." - 

Blessed Innocent of Berzo

Blessed Innocent of Berzo’s Story

Born in 1844 near Brescia in northern Italy, Innocent was already a diocesan priest and 30 years of age when he requested admission into the Capuchin Franciscan Order in 1874. He served as assistant novice master and then director of candidates for the order.
Innocent showed a special gift in working with the young men seeking to follow the Franciscan life. He loved his pupils, and they loved him. He preached exterior mortification, especially in controlling the tongue, but he knew that exterior discipline is hypocrisy if not founded on interior mortification. And as a preacher of prudence, Innocent was able to say with St. Francis: “Let everyone pay attention to his own nature. For, while one person can get along with less indulgence, I would not have another, who requires more, try to imitate him; but rather let him take his own nature into account and grant it what it truly needs.”
This ascetic friar, only 45 years old, died on March 3, 1890, from influenza while on a preaching tour. He was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1961. Both miracles from his beatification process were the cure of terminally sick children.


Innocent preached mortification—a phrase that usually brings to mind giving up something we enjoy. But his strongest emphasis was on controlling the tongue—giving up careless and hurtful speech. Words that belittle us chip away at our confidence; the sting of harsh words can inflict lasting scars. Racial and ethnic slurs undermine the unity of the human race. Innocent also preached the importance of changing our hearts. Being careful about the words we use helps to soften them.

San Costanzo di Niardo e Innocenzo da Berzo
Chiesa di San Maurizio. Niardo, Val Camonica

Blessed Innocent of Berzo

Also known as
  • Giovanni Scalvinoni
  • Innocenzo de Berzo

Capuchin priest. Having a special gift working with those seeking the Franciscan life, he was made assistantnovice master, then director of candidates for the Order. Died on a preaching tour. His beatification miraclesinvolved cures of terminally ill children.


Beato Innocenzo da Berzo (Giovanni Scalvinoni) Sacerdote cappuccino

Niardo, Brescia, 19 marzo 1844 – Bergamo, 3 marzo 1890

«Gesù è da tutti offeso nel mondo: tocca a me non lasciarlo solo nell’afflizione. L’amore di Dio non consiste in grandi sentimenti, ma in una grande nudità e pazienza per l’amato Dio. Non c’è altro mezzo migliore per custodire lo spirito che patire, fare e tacere. Avrò gran desiderio d’esser soggetto a tutti e in orrore l’esser preferito al minimo» (Fra Innocenzo). Giovanni Scalvinoni nacque a Niardo (Brescia) il 19 marzo 1844. Rimasto orfano di padre, trascorse l’infanzia a Berzo.  Frequentò poi il ginnasio nel collegio di Lovere e da qui passò al seminario di Brescia. Il vescovo Geremia Bonomelli, all’epoca professore in seminario, così testimoniò al processo di beatificazione: «Il chierico Scalvinoni per l’ubbidienza, la modestia, la diligenza, l’umiltà, per un certo candore che traluceva da tutte le sue parole e azioni, conciliava gli animi di tutti i suoi compagni. Il solo vederlo edificava, benché facesse ogni cosa con tutta semplicità». Ordinato sacerdote nel 1867, fu vicario coadiutore a Cevo e vicerettore in seminario. L’innata timidezza, tuttavia, gli faceva desiderare una vita di nascondimento e solitudine. Si fece cappuccino e ricevette il nome di fra Innocenzo. Anche tra i frati ricoprì solo incarichi modesti.Trascorse la maggior parte del tempo al convento-eremo dell’Annunziata, donde veniva chiamato a predicare gli esercizi spirituali nei conventi della Lombardia. Cominciò allora a diffondersi la fama della sua santità. I malati e gli afflitti accorrevano per ricevere la sua benedizione. Nei giorni di festa era al confessionale dal mattino alla sera. Morì nel convento di Bergamo il 3 marzo 1890. Venne beatificato dal suo conterraneo, san Giovanni XXIII.

Etimologia: Innocenzo = senza peccato, dal latino

Martirologio Romano: A Bergamo, beato Innocenzo da Berzo (Giovanni) Scalvinoni, sacerdote dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori Cappuccini, che rifulse per lo straordinario amore nel diffondere la parola di Dio e nell’ascolto delle confessioni. 

Tra gli ex voto conservati nell’umile casa natale del Beato Innocenzo a Berzo Inferiore, oggi trasformata in museo, vi è un frammento di fune a ricordo di un miracolo avvenuto sull’Adamello negli anni Venti. Un alpinista, durante una scalata, cadde in un crepaccio e non avendo nessuno che lo aiutasse, chiese l’intervento dell’umile cappuccino di cui era devoto. Dall’alto arrivò una corda mentre gli venivano suggeriti i movimenti per risalire il dirupo ma, arrivato in cima, grande fu lo stupore nel vedere che nessuno lo attendeva. 

Giovanni Scalvinoni venne alla luce a Niardo (Brescia), il paese materno, il 19 marzo 1844. Pochi mesi dopo una tremenda sciagura colpì improvvisamente la giovane famiglia. Il padre, in soli due giorni, morì stroncato da una polmonite fulminante. Giovannino trascorse la fanciullezza semplicemente, facendo propria la fede forte della gente di montagna. Fin da piccolo ebbe una grande pietà per i poveri, dando generosamente quel poco che possedeva a coloro che bussavano alla porta di casa. Conserverà questo sentimento per tutta la vita: quando da cappuccino andava in giro per la questua, era sommamente soddisfatto di tornare in convento con la bisaccia vuota. Quanto riceveva in offerta lo dava ai bisognosi.

Studiò con ottimi risultati nel collegio municipale di Lovere (Bergamo) e da qui passò al seminario di Brescia dove si impose un’esigente disciplina spirituale. Ordinato sacerdote nel 1867 ricoprì alcuni incarichi, tra cui quello di vicerettore del seminario, ma ogni volta venne rimosso perché assolutamente privo di autorità. L’innata timidezza lo portava a desiderare di vivere in solitudine, tra preghiere e penitenze. Il 16 aprile 1874 finalmente cominciò il noviziato tra i cappuccini dell’Annunziata di Borno (ora Cogno). Quattro anni più tardi emise la professione solenne e venne nominato vicemaestro dei novizi. Per alcuni mesi, tra il 1880 e il 1881, fece parte della redazione della rivista Annali Francescani, su incarico del Padre Agostino da Crema, amico del Rosmini.

Eccetto brevi incarichi e la predicazione di esercizi spirituali in alcuni conventi lombardi, fu nel convento-eremo dell’Annunziata che visse intensamente l’abbandono nel Signore, definito “loquela taciturna d’amore”. Nonostante l’eccellente conoscenza della teologia, trasmessa anche ai confratelli, astutamente appariva dimesso, con la volontà di voler sempre scomparire e mai apparire. Innamorato dell’Eucaristia (se sue S. Messe erano di un’intensità eccezionale), sostava quanto più poteva davanti al tabernacolo. Amava molto il Crocifisso e l’esercizio della Via Crucis che raccomandava ai suoi penitenti. 

Il 3 marzo 1890, a soli quarantasei anni, ammalatosi seriamente, morì nell’infermeria del convento di Bergamo. Pochi mesi dopo le sue spoglie mortali furono trasferite solennemente a Berzo, lo circondava già una vasta fama di santità. Il 12 novembre 1961 san Giovanni XXIII lo proclamò beato e patrono dei bambini, protagonisti dei due miracoli del processo di beatificazione. 

I suoi scritti (poche lettere, frammenti di diario, appunti per prediche), raccolti in un migliaio di pagine, svelano il disarmante segreto della sua santità: l’incondizionato abbandono nella braccia del Padre. “Gesù è da tutti offeso nel mondo: tocca a me non lasciarlo solo nell’afflizione. L’amore di Dio non consiste in grandi sentimenti, ma in una grande nudità e pazienza per l’amato Dio. Non c’è altro mezzo migliore per custodire lo spirito che patire, fare e tacere. Avrò gran desiderio d’esser soggetto a tutti e in orrore l’essere preferito al minimo”.

Un sentiero che porta al convento dell’Annunziata, da lui molte volte percorso per raggiungere varie località della Valcamonica, dove era ricercato confessore e predicatore, è oggi a lui intitolato. Dalla sua cella, meta di continui pellegrinaggi, una piccola finestra permette di contemplare l’incantevole paesaggio della bassa valle, il Lago d’Iseo e il paese natio Berzo.

L'Ordine dei Frati Minori Cappuccini ne fa memoria al 28 settembre, mentre nel santuario della Santissima Annunciata, convento in cui il Beato è vissuto, la festa è la domenica dopo il Perdon d'Assisi (dopo 2 agosto).


Ti ringraziamo, o Padre Santo, 
che nel Beato Innocenzo da Berzo 
hai donato a questo nostro tempo tanto lontano da te 
e tanto di te bisognoso, 
un esemplare di preghiera silenziosa e contemplativa 
e un vero innamorato di Te e dell’Eucaristia.
Ti ringraziamo, o Padre Misericordioso, 
che nel Beato Innocenzo da Berzo 
hai concesso alla tua Chiesa un ministro buono 
e un fedele dispensatore del tuo perdono 
e della tua grazia, per la pace e la salvezza di molti.
Ti ringraziamo, o Padre Buono, 
che nel Beato Innocenzo da Berzo povero e penitente, 
hai offerto ai bisognosi, ai disoccupati, ai piccoli 
e ai sofferenti un amico e un benefattore, 
e per la loro gioia lo hai glorificato con il dono dei miracoli. 
Ascolta ora le nostre invocazioni e per la sua intercessione 
concedi a noi di imitarne gli esempi 
e di ottenere dalla tua bontà la grazia che con fiducia ti chiediamo.

Autore: Daniele Bolognini