Start of the Process: 3-12-1995; Conclusion of the Process: 11-25-2001
Elia Comini was born on 7 May 1910 in Calvenzano, in the province of Bologna, to Claudio and Emma Limoni. In 1914 Elia's family moved to a place called "Casetta", in the parish of Salvaro. The Archpriest of Salvaro, Msgr. Fidenzio Mellini, as a military man in Turin had gone to see St John Bosco, who had prophesied he would become a priest.
Monsignor Mellini highly esteemed Elia for his faith, goodness and unique intellectual abilities. In agreement with his parents, he sent him to the Salesian school in Finale Emilia, where Elia asked to become a Salesian. After the novitiate in Castel de Britti, he made his first religious profession in 1926. In the same year Elia's father died. From that moment the Archpriest would be his second father. He completed his studies at Valsalice, Turin. Later he graduated in literature at the State University of Milan. On 16 March 1935 he was ordained a priest.
Fr Elia Comini was a priest and teacher, apostle and educator of young people in the Salesian schools at Chiari and Treviglio. He particularly embodied Don Bosco's pastoral charity and the traits of Salesian loving kindness, which he conveyed to the young through his friendly character, goodness and a smile.
In the summer of 1944 he went to Salvaro to assist his elderly mother and to help Msgr. Mellini. The area had become the epicenter of war between allies, partisans and Germans, amid the terror of the population and almost total devastation. The Salvaresi and the displaced persons of those places always saw Fr Elia as close to them, ready for confessions, zealous in preaching, able to exploit his talents as a good musician to make sacred ceremonies more joyful.
Together with Dehonian Fr Martino Capelli, they visited and rescued refugees, healed the wounded, buried the dead, sowed peace among the population, the Germans and the partisans, often even at the risk of their own lives. In the parish of Salvaro, full of illegal refugees, came the news that, following a clash with the partisans, the terrible SS had captured 69 people, among whom there were now dying people in need of comfort.
Fr Elia and Father Martino grabbed the Holy Oils and walked there, under fie. They were captured because they were thought to be partisan spies and were put to forced labour. They were held with other hostages in a stable. Fr Elia, with heroic pastoral charity, refused the freedom that was proposed to him so he could remain close to the other prisoners.
He said: "Either they free us all or nobody!" They were tried and unjustly accused. Before their execution, Fr Elia and Father Martino, as Bishop Versiglia and Fr Caravario had done, heard each other's confessions. Then Fr Elia pronounced absolution aloud for the other hostages who responded with a sign of the cross. His body was then thrown into the Rhine.