By Thacio Siqueira
ROME, June 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Alessandro Ghirelli, together with his family — his wife and their seven children, is the Italian founder and owner of a company in service to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the last 25 years: the Ghirelli Rosary Company.
Ghirelli’s primary goal is to achieve the highest possible quality of its products. At the same time they supply large quantities of rosaries to the most important Marian Shrines. In fact, Ghirelli rosaries have long been present at Shrines worldwide, including Notre Dame of Paris in France, Fatima in Portugal, Knock in Ireland, and many others. For more than 20 years, Ghirelli has designed and manufactured rosaries exclusively for the Holy See.
Mr. Ghirelli spoke with ZENIT on his business and how he sees it as not just based on profits but on prayer and service to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whom they trust and rely upon.
ZENIT: Alessandro, you have seven children. This is very unusual in today’s world. What were the reasons for such a large family? In Italy and in Europe as well, this isn’t easy, is it?
Alessandro Ghirelli: Yes, it’s true, many ask me this question. My family is a grace of which I feel unworthy. The teachings of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina are the supporting column of our faith. Regarding the number of children he used to say: “When you are married, God decided how many children you shall have.” Criticisms from the world are not important. I remember St. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians saying that we do not have to take them into consideration, as what they consider a glory is indeed a shame. We have to render account to God, not to the world.
ZENIT: Does a life of faith help you in the education of your children?
Alessandro Ghirelli: “Without me, nothing is possible,” said Jesus. Without prayers and total trust in the Immaculate Mary, you can’t be a family in the real sense. You can be an imitation of what the world proposes, but its destiny is to collapse into selfishness, the fruit of sin. The secret of joy and of love is to be found in the commandments. God is simplicity.
ZENIT: You run a company that makes rosaries. Why? Who inspired you?
Alessandro Ghirelli: Everything happened through the influence of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, and through the teachings of our spiritual director, who lived until the end of the 1950’s near that stigmatized saint. At first, we merely prayed the rosary. But then, according to Providence, our faithfulness to the recitation of this prayer led to the start of our blessed business.
ZENIT: Making rosaries is beautiful work, but it can also remain just a business. What do you think of your work? What is the main goal of the Ghirelli company?
Alessandro Ghirelli: The Ghirelli company is completely dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. My wife and I have entrusted everything to her. We are merely her humble workers.
When we were engaged, we started making rosaries, thanks to the charity of a cloistered nun who used to help us in the assembly process. Today, we are at the service of not only the Holy See, but of the most important clients in the world.
The path we are following is not a result of our skills alone but, of the conflict of the misery living in all human hearts, against the trust and faith in Him, to whom nothing is impossible. Jesus is clear in his teaching that we “are useless servants” who should serve God in this life.
ZENIT: Where do you sell your rosaries?
Alessandro Ghirelli: We thank God the Ghirelli company is known for its creative skills. We love the rosary, and our commitment is to make it a real tool for prayers. In its details we wish to express the spirituality or the message of the Shrines we work for. Apart from the most important Marian Shrines in the world, we are honoured and humbled to create works for the Holy See.
ZENIT: You spoke of your devotion to Father Pio of Pietrelcina. How did this devotion arise and what is its influence in your life, in your family, in your business, in your devotion to the Blessed Virgin?
Alessandro Ghirelli: As I said, my wife and I have a spiritual director who lived close to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina for 10 years. He opened our eyes to sin and he guides us in everything, urging us to always live in the grace of God and to entrust everything to our Blessed Mother.
ZENIT: Those who know a bit about the Ghirelli family know you are a family-run business, correct? But who is the real leader? Your wife, you, or the children?
Alessandro Ghirelli: I thank God for the great gift of my wife; together we have created our family and our business. She is the heart of our family and of our company. Two of our children work with us, and soon some of the others will begin to take part in the business. Honestly, when I look at all of this I bow in front of God and thank Him. Everything is consecrated to the Immaculate Mary. She helps produce the fruit from all these talents for the benefit of all souls and the support of our family.
ZENIT: What is the message you would give young people who wish to marry but who face so many obstacles: finding the right person, finding a job and so on. Where do you begin?
Alessandro Ghirelli: They should think of marriage as a sacrament, not as the choreography of a party. Jesus permits true love between the spouses; He is fidelity, life, and joy. Our spiritual director often repeats to us that “sin kills love;” that’s the reason for the failure of so many marriages. There is no instruction manual on how to be the right spouse. There is just a correct path to follow based upon pre-marriage chastity and respect for divine law. Fidelity to God will be fidelity to the wedding vows. I think Tobias’ book is very enlightening: sin is the enemy of our happiness and an obstacle to God’s designs. You can’t love by disobeying the one who is love. I think it is right to ask in our prayers that God’s will be done in our life, totally resigning ourselves to Him, with faith, even when we do not understand the paths He will lead us on. The fundamental thing is to be in the grace of God, for if we live in sin, we prevent the plans of love, peace and mercy that God has for us.
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For more information: www.ghirelli.com