VATICAN CITY, SEPT 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- When John Paul II beatifies Italian engineer Alberto Marvelli (1918-1946) of Catholic Action this Sunday, he will give the universal Church an exemplary figure for young people and politicians.
The characteristics of the future blessed were highlighted on Monday by Archbishop Angelo Comastri of Loreto, who described him as “a youth who made himself a saint as a youth.” Marvelli “reminds us that youth is not the age of rashness, nor the age … to waste time; it is not the age of whims and amusements,” said the archbishop.
“Youth is the most beautiful time in which good can be done. St. Philip Neri said to the young people of his time: ‘Lucky you, young people, who have so much time to do good!” Alberto Marvelli, whom John Paul II described as the “engineer of charity,” understood “this well and reminds young people precisely of this truth,” the archbishop added on Vatican Radio.
Marvelli was also “a young Christian involved in politics,” where “he left a sign of cleanness, transparency, dignity, correctness, which is a great message for all politicians today. One can be in politics and be a saint, and this is a very great message that comes from the life of Alberto Marvelli,” the prelate emphasized.
A native of Ferrara, Italy, he was born on March 21, 1918. Marvelli participated in the Salesian “Oratorio” and in Catholic Action, where his faith matured in a decisive option: “My program of life is summarized in one word: holiness,” he said.
Of a strong and determined character, and a great lover of sports, especially cycling, Marvelli prayed, taught catechesis, and expressed apostolic zeal, charity, and serenity, according to the biography issued by the Holy See. He chose Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) as the model of his youth. Frassati was a member of Italian Catholic Action, beatified by John Paul II in 1990.
When Marvelli finished his university studies in mechanical engineering in 1941, he joined the army during World War II, a conflict he firmly condemned. He was discharged as three of his brothers were at the front. He then worked for a brief period for FIAT, Italian automobile company, in Turin.
Following the events that led to the fall of Fascism and the German occupation of Italy in 1943, Marvelli returned to his home in Rimini.
During the war he did much work for the poor and was very active in the post war reconstruction of his city.
At that time, the future blessed even went without shoes, giving his own to the needy. He would go on his bicycle to take food and spiritual solace to refugees in hiding, witnesses said during the beatification process.
Marvelli also rescued many young people from deportation during the German occupation. After the city was liberated on Sept. 23, 1945, he was only 26 and one of the advisers of the first junta of the liberation committee.
He was put in charge of housing in the city, and later reconstruction. At one point Marvelli wrote: “To serve is better than to be served. Jesus serves.”
When political parties re-surfaced in Rimini, Marvelli registered as a Christian Democrat, living “his political commitment as a service to organized society: political activity could and should be transformed in the highest expression of lived faith,” the Holy See biography notes.
In 1945, the Bishop of Rimini asked him to direct Catholic professionals. His commitment can be summarized in two words: culture and charity. He also founded a popular university and opened a soup kitchen for the poor, where he himself served and listened to their needs. As co-founder of Italian Workers’ Catholic Action, he formed a cooperative for construction workers.
He showed his genuine love for the Eucharist in a continuous relationship, from where he drew the strength “to carry out his work of redemption and liberation, capable of humanizing the face of the earth,” the Holy See emphasized.
Marvelli died on Oct. 5, 1946, when a military truck hit him while he was riding his bicycle to a polling station (he was one of the candidates in the election for the first communal administration). He was 28.
On Sunday, Sept. 5, in addition to Alberto Marvelli, John Paul II will beatify two other outstanding figures of Catholic Action: young Italian lay woman Pina Suriano and Spanish priest Pere Tarres i Claret.