Salesian Holiness

Aloysius Versiglia

Beatified on 15-5-83,
Canonised on 1-10-2000

Vet or priest?

Louis Versiglia was born in Oliva Gessi (Pavia) on 5 June 1873. From his earliest years he used to serve mass, so much so that the people already thought he would be a priest, but Louis never wanted to hear talk of that, because he wanted to be a vet.

The Salesian

As a twelve year old he was taken in by Don Bosco, who fascinated him to the extent that he wanted to change his mind. In 1888, soon after Don Bosco’s death, Louis was much taken by the ceremony where seven missionaries received their mission cross, and he decided to become a Salesian with the hope of going to the missions.

The priest

He gained a degree in philosophy, and was soon ready for priestly ordination which took place in 1895. Fr Rua appointed him as director of novices at just 23 years of age at Genzano in Rome, a task he carried out for ten years with kindness, firmness and patience.

Missionary to China

After much insistence from the bishop of Macao, in 1906 six Salesians arrived in China, led by Fr Versiglia. Thus a prophecy of Don Bosco’s came true. In Macao he established the Salesian "mother house" and also opened a mission at Heungchow. Fr Louis gave life to the area as Don Bosco would have done, setting up a music band which was much appreciated, and opening orphanages and oratories.

Exemplary bishop

In 1918 the Salesians received the mission of Shiuchow from the Vicar Apostolic of Canton, and on 9 January 1921 Fr Versiglia was consecrated its bishop. Wise, tireless and poor, he constantly set out to visit and encourage the confreres and Christians in his diocese. Whenever he arrived, the villages held a feast especially the children.

He was a true pastor, completely dedicated to his flock. He gave the Vicariate a solid structure with its own seminary, house of formation, and planned residences and hospitals for the elderly and those in need.

He looked after the formation of catechists with much care. In his notes he wrote: “The missionary who is not united to God is a canal detached from its source”. “The missionary who prays a lot achieves a lot”. Like Don Bosco he was an example of work and temperance.

Meanwhile in China the political situation had become very tense, especially for Christians and foreign missionaries. Persecutions began.

Martyrdom

On 13 February 1930, together with Fr Caravario, the bishop was at Shiuchow for the pastoral visit to the Linchow mission. Some young boys and girls went with them; they had been studying in Shiuchow. On 25 February a group of Bolshevik pirates stopped the bishop’s boat, wanting to take the girls. The bishop and Fr Caravario obstructed them with all the force they could muster.

They were forcibly taken and eventually shot. Before they were killed they heard one another’s confession. Their last breath was spent for their beloved China.

Paul VI declared them martyrs in 1976, John Paul II declared them Blessed in 1983 and canonised them on 1st October 2000.

 

Resources in general
SDL
All languages
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Liturgy
Mass of the Martyrs
IT(9KB)
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Collect and Liturgy of the Hours
IT
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Prayers
IT(3KB)
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Documents
Versiglia-Caravario-2003
IT(2.7 MB)
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Photos
Bishop Versiglia
(17,19 MB)
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Oliva Gessi - Louis Versiglia's birthplace
(782 KB)
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Objects belonging to Versiglia
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Graphics
Nino Musio depiction in low resolution
(1 MB)
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Nino Musio in high (very) resolution
(47.6 MB)
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Music
Hymn to martyrs (youth)
IT(3.2 MB)
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Hymn to martyrs
IT(4.2 MB)
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Music texts
Inno ai Martiri (giovanile) di D. Machetta
IT(0.6 MB)
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Inno ai Martiri di D. Machetta
IT(1 MB)
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Links
parrocchie.it
IT
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salesianicaserta.it
IT
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bosconet.aust.com
EN
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catholic-forum.com
EN
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catholic-hierarchy.org
EN
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salesianmissions.org
EN
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orbita.starmedia.com
ES
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abbaye-saint-benoit.ch
FR
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