Declared Venerable: 19-12-2009
Joseph Quadrio was born in Vervio, in the province of Sondrio, on 28 November 1921 of Agostino and Giacomina Robustelli: a peasant family, rich in Christian life. The grace of God had taken possession of his heart since he was a child, so that, by the age of eight, he had given himself a serious rule of life, which ended with the words: "I will try to make myself a saint." Reading Don Bosco's Life which the parish priest had lent him, he felt that the Salesians would be his family.
In 1933 he entered the missionary Institute at Ivrea, excelling in intelligence, but above all in goodness. In 1937 he became a Salesian, and was chosen to attend the faculty of philosophy at the prestigious Gregorian University of Rome. After obtaining his Licentiate with full marks, at the age of 20 he began teaching philosophy in Foglizzo among clerical students with clarity and depth.
In 1943 he began theology courses at the Gregorian, staying in the Salesian community of the Sacred Heart. Joseph was a Salesian who imitated John Bosco as a student: he dedicated all his free time to the care of the "sciuscià", the Second World War orphans famous in Rome for the shoe-cleaning exploits. His interiority and his Salesian kindness grew and grew more and more.
In 1946, in the presence of nine cardinals, including the future Paul VI, he defended the dogmatic definability of the Assumption of Mary into heaven in a solemn theological discussion. His success made him famous in the Church and in the Congregation. Pius XII would also rely on his studies to solemnly define the dogma of faith in 1950.
His successes in study and intellectual superiority did not diminish his humble and helpful joviality, devoid of any manifestation of pride. Ordained a priest in 1947, he graduated in theology in 1949. The same year he began teaching in the Theological Studentate in Turin.
Clear and incisive, he left a profound mark on his numerous pupils of the Pontifical Salesian Athenaeum. His union with God led him to reach the heights of mysticism. It would be said of him that when he took the podium his teaching was so heartfelt and profound, that it seemed that theology caught fire.
In 1954 he was appointed Dean of the Theology Faculty. In 1960 an incurable disease appeared: malignant lymphogranuloma. Fully aware of this, he continued until he could teach and participate in community life no longer. Even at the hospital he showed the warmth of his kindness to all.
"The great miracle that Fr Rua gave me - he wrote a few months before the end - is an undeserved and very gentle peace which makes these days of prolonged waiting the most beautiful and happy of my life". He died on October 23, 1963.
O Holy Spirit,
through the intervention of the Virgin Help of Christians
you inspired Fr Joseph Quadrio
with the effective aim of becoming a saint at Don Bosco's school
and you made him a model of the priest and teacher.
Let his example and his teaching
attract many young people to religious and apostolic life,
and as we ask that he be glorified,
grant us the grace we ask of you,
through his intercession.