Don Orione on the Way to Canonization

Miracle Attributed to Religious Founder Is Recognized

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2003 ( The Vatican officially linked a miracle to the intercession of Blessed Luigi Orione, one of the most outstanding charitable figures of the first half of the 20th century.

A decree to that effect was approved today in the presence of John Paul II, putting Don Orione on the path to canonization. No date for the canonization has been scheduled yet.

Don Orione (1872-1940) is the founder of the Small Work of Divine Providence and of the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity.

His religious family oversees works including professional schools; homes for the elderly; missions; parishes; hospitals; and homes for troubled youth. Today, Don Orione’s religious work in more than 30 countries, numbering 1,032 men religious and 990 women religious.

The beneficiary of the miracle attributed to the intercession of the future saint is Pierino Penacca, from the Diocese of Tortona, who was born at Momperone in 1912. As a young man, Penacca knew Don Orione. It was natural that he and his family would turn to the blessed when, in November 1990, Penacca was diagnosed with a lung tumor.

Penacca’s general health worsened, and he was admitted to the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. There, two further cytological tests detected the presence of a cancerous growth. At that point, friends and family started to pray to Don Orione.

Gabriella, a daughter, said that she was told of the results of the second cytological examination on Dec. 31, 1990. «That evening I prayed and spoke to Don Orione, tightly holding in my hands … a relic of Don Orione. After praying, after feeling inner anguish, suddenly a deep sense of peace, that was not mine, came over me. I felt happy and calm because I had put Daddy in good hands.»

Another daughter, Isaura, having heard the news, «called at the shrine of Our Lady of La Guardia, in Tortona, and made straightaway for Don Orione, going round his casket. I put to him the request of the previous evening: I know that Dad is seriously ill. Don Orione, if you can, ask the Lord to let him be with us for a while longer.»

The sick man was well known and loved among the followers of Don Orione: family members were praying, as well as some Don Orione priests and even some of the disabled patients of the Little Cottolengo of Seregno, which Pierino Penacca used to help financially.

A nurse there, Ennio Monegnini, said: «All of us, together, wanted to obtain this grace. We had relics of Don Orione and prayed with them. We used to pray a lot, also with the disabled boys of the Little Cottolengo. Then I felt a certainty: Don’t worry, everything will be OK.»

Faced with the fatal prognosis and given the advanced age of the patient, the hospital authorities did not think it suitable or possible to prescribe any specific therapy. He was discharged on Jan. 10, 1991.

Then, Pierino Penacca’s state of health started to improve quickly, according to his three children. He recovered completely. Medical tests detected no signs of a lung tumor.

Pierino Penacca returned to his everyday life. He eventually died in April 2001, at age 88, due to reasons other than the tumor.

The family doctor, Francesco Misenti, wondered about the event, from a scientific point of view. The relatives gave a statement, first to the Don Orione postulator, Father Flavio Peloso, and then at the diocesan ecclesiastical tribunal, chaired by the Bishop Martino Canessa of Tortona.

The diocesan inquiry took place at Tortona in 1999. Later the dossier of evidence was sent to the Vatican Congregation for Sainthood Causes for further study.

The congregation’s Medical Board last Jan. 16 gave a unanimous verdict about the non-scientific explanation of the healing. The Theological Board on April 4 verified that there was link between the time of the fatal prognosis, the prayer to Don Orione, and the healing. All the board members said it was a case of a miracle.

Finally, there came the authoritative judgment of the cardinals and bishops on June 3, supporting the case for a miracle.

John Paul II then gave his assent to the positive judgment of the Congregation of Sainthood Causes, ordering that the decree on the miracle be drawn up. The decree, published today by the Holy See, puts the authoritative pontifical seal on the judgment of the event.

«It is a good news, like the icing on the cake of the celebrations of the Centenary of the Little Work of Divine Providence,» said the order’s superior general, Father Roberto Simionato. «It is a further confirmation of a holy heritage that we religious, priests, sisters and lay people of Don Orione must honor and treasure so that it may always bear more fruit to the glory of God and for the well-being of our needy brothers.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation