VATICAN CITY, AUG. 30, 2004 ( John Paul II put forward as an “example of holiness to the men of our time” the person of Blessed Giovanni Giovenale Ancina.

Celebrating the 4th centenary of the death of the blessed, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, sent a letter on behalf of the Holy Father to Bishop Giuseppe Guerrini of Saluzzo, Italy.

Blessed Ancina, a native of Fossano, was born on October 19, 1545. He arrived in Rome in 1574, where he came into contact with teachers such as St. Robert Bellarmine who helped him to acquire extensive theological knowledge and cultivate his literary and musical talents.

He met St. Philip Neri in 1576, who Cardinal Sodano said “first enlightened his mind and later warmed his heart.” The meeting led him to request admission to the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, within which he developed his ministry as "esteemed and appreciated preacher, confessor, and theologian," said the cardinal.

Ten years later St. Philip Neri invited then Father Ancina to Naples as rector of the Oratory school. In that city, he became a "promoter of several pastoral and cultural activities," eliciting "the affection of the people," the cardinal stated.

He was consecrated bishop in 1602, and during his brief episcopate in Saluzzo he convoked the diocesan synod, established the Seminary and initiated pastoral visits, "faithfully applying the dispositions of the Council of Trent" with "humility and fortitude."

Despite the "enormous quantity of work" he did every day, it was not to the detriment of his prayer "to which he dedicated much time" spending "hours in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament," Cardinal Sodano emphasized.

His sudden death on Aug. 30, 1604, "put an end to his intense activity for the reform of the Christian clergy, religious, and laity."

Uniting himself to the thanksgiving of the Saluzzo diocese and the Oratorian Family for the life of Blessed Giovanni Giovenale Ancina, the Holy Father expressed in the letter the desire that "the anniversary of the entry into eternity of such an illustrious pastor and worthy disciple of St. Philip Neri may give the clergy, religious, and faithful the opportunity to relive the commitment to personal improvement and tireless apostolic dedication."

For additional information see the international Oratory website.