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Saint Of The Day For January 12: Saint Antonio Maria Pucci

Born Eustachio, to everyone he was ‘il Curatino’. For 48 years the parish priest of Sant’Andrea in Viareggio, Fr Antonio, a great devotee of Our Lady, was a forerunner of the organisational forms of the laity.

He died of pneumonia in 1892 and was canonised by John XXIII in 1962.

The Story of Antonio Maria

“It is not necessary to have a long life, but it is necessary to take advantage of the hour that God gives us to do one’s duty”.

Certain inclinations are innate, although the environment in which one is born and grows up has a great influence.

Thus Antonio Maria Pucci, still called Eustachio as a child, born into a peasant family poor in resources but rich in faith, had as his favourite pastime helping his father with the decorum of the church, attending services and receiving Communion.

We are in upper Tuscany in the 1800s and the young man would be a useful helper in the fields, but when the Lord calls him he goes, choosing an Order consecrated to Our Lady: the Servants of Mary Most Holy.

The “curatino”, Antonio Maria

Ordained priest in 1843, he went on to become Definitor General of his community, but it was above all the work as parish priest that he enjoyed, in the church of Sant’Andrea in Viareggio, where he remained for 48 years.

For everyone Don Antonio Maria – the name he chose when taking his vows – he was ‘the curatino’, always smiling and above all always ready to help others.

A forerunner of the organisational forms proper to Catholic Action, he practically created an association for each of his parishioners, giving great impetus to the commitment of the laity within the Church: for young people he founded the Company of St. Louis and the Congregation of Christian Doctrine.

For men the Company of Mary Most Holy Our Lady of Sorrows and for women the Congregation of Christian Mothers.

He also started a female religious order: that of the Mantellate of Viareggio who cared for sick children.

Antonio Maria, “He looks like an angel!”

Although he needs help for his many works, Anthony is the first to “get his hands dirty” and go from house to house, among the poor, to bring what they need.

He keeps nothing for himself, not even clothes.

And in his days, which seem endless, he does not even neglect prayer: his parishioners often find him absorbed, they even see him lift himself up from the ground or walk without putting down his feet in the exercise of his ministry, so much so that many exclaim:

“He looks like an angel!”.

And such indeed is Don Antonio, who during the cholera epidemic of 1854 becomes the angel of the sick.

A heroic exercise of charity, his, which was to fracture his body until he contracted fulminating pneumonia in 1892, the year of his death.

He was beatified by Pius XII in 1952 and canonised by John XXIII ten years later.

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