VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2009 (ZENIT).- Benedict XVI lauded the newly beatified founder of the Don Gnocci Foundation, claiming for himself the motto of the beatification: “Alongside of life, always.”
Father Carlo Gnocchi was beatified in Milan on Sunday. After prying the midday Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope sent a special greeting to those gathered in Milan for the celebration.
Father Gnocchi’s foundation is “on the cutting edge in the care of persons of every age who need rehabilitative therapy,” the Holy Father observed.
The Pontiff described Blessed Gnocchi as having given “all of himself to the very end,” and even at death, gave his corneas to two blind boys.
Blessed Gnocchi (1902-1956) is remembered as a hero of solidarity with victims of World War II. He was called father for the mutilated and of combatants’ orphans, since the center he created offered rehabilitation to those who suffered as a consequence of the war.
“Rather than a political or economic crisis, there is a profound moral crisis, more than that, a metaphysical crisis,” he wrote in 1946. “As such, it affects all peoples because it touches man and his existential problem.”
Father Rodolfo Cosimo Meoli, the postulator of Father Gnocchi’s cause for canonization, told ZENIT that the priest was particularly characterized by his charity.
“More than virtues, I would speak of ‘the virtue’: charity, on which all the others rested,” Father Meoli said. “Also nobility, charity turned into action, tenderness, compassion, hospitality, availability.”
The postulator recounted how Father Gnocchi was a volunteer chaplain during World War II.
“Then the tragic experience of the retreat from Russia matured in him the specific plan to offer assistance to orphans of the mountaineers and of many other little innocent victims of the war battles,” he continued.
Father Gnocchi created a foundation in 1947 that has evolved into centers that receive patients with various disabilities, as well as patients who are in need of surgical intervention and rehabilitation, elderly people who are not self-sufficient and terminal cancer patients.
The postulator of his cause described the priest as “the modern face of sanctity.”
Father Gnocchi saw his vocation “to be light and support, strength and hope for all those he met,” Father Meoli said. “His life was consumed in doing good to others. He was an alter Christus, something that every priest, yesterday, today and always, is called to live.”[Carmen Elena Villa contributed to this report]