St. Luigi Orione






Saint Luigi Orione is the founder of The Little Work of Divine Providence, which is made up of two religious Congregations: the Sons of Divine Providence, consisting of Priests and Brothers and the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity. These two Congregations are supported by two Contemplative orders: the Hermits of Divine Providence and the Blind Sacramentine Sisters. New branches have begun recently and Don Orione's charism has been embraced by thousands of lay people, men and women who have formed the Don Orione Lay movement.

Don Orione died in 1940 but the family he started goes on in more than 300 foundations in different parts of the world: in England, Ireland and other European countries, in the North and South America, in Asia and in several African Countries.

Saint Luigi Orione was born in Piedmont, Northern Italy, at Pontecurone, a village near Tortona on 23rd June 1872. The young Luigi felt he wanted to be a priest and joined the Franciscans, but had to leave due to ill health. He was welcomed by St. John Bosco, but left the Salesians after a few years to become a seminarian in his own Diocese of Tortona.

While still a student, he started his life long work for those he loved most, namely the poor. He catechised a small group of boys and they followed him very much as children now follow priests, brothers and sisters as they go about their work. Don Orione drew people to himself throughout his life. They came to be with him; some to help him, others to be helped.

Don Orione loved everybody; but the poor, the young, the elderly, the sick and people with disabilities were his special friends.

His apostolate embraces different types of work. In the British Isles at the time of his Canonisation in 2004 the Sons of Divine Providence ran: several care homes for the elderly and people with learning disabilities, day centres and supported independent housing establishments. They have also founded and run missions in Kenya and Jordan for a number of years. In 2002 they founded a mission in India.

Throughout the world the apostolate includes schools, hostels for workers, hospitals, homes for the elderly, the disabled, the sick and the blind, learning centres, Parishes and Missions.

The ideal of Don Orione's life was to live and to die for the spiritual welfare of people, serving Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Mother Church and its head, the Pope. His motto was, "Do good always, to all, evil to none".

He travelled far and wide, started new foundations at home and abroad and followed their progress. He died in Italy on 12th March 1940 after sending a loving message to the Pope: His last words were: "Jesus.. Jesus.. Jesus."

His body is incorrupt and can be venerated in Tortona. He was beatified in Rome on 26th October 1980 by Pope John Paul II. The same Pope declared him a Saint on 16th May 2004.

Miracle attributed to Blessed Don Orione
The official publication of the Decree formally recognising the miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Luigi Orione was held in Rome on 7th July 2003, in the presence of the Holy Father, John Paul II.

The miraculous cure occured in Pierino Penacca, a man from the diocese of Tortona (Alessandria). He was born at Momperone on May 14th 1912. As a young man, Pierino knew Don Orione. 

In November 1990, Pierino became very ill and found that he was spitting blood. A lung tumour was diagnosed and confirmed. His general health worsened and on 28th November he was admitted to the San Raffaele Hospital, Milan. There, two further cytological tests detected the presence of a “lung carcinoma”. He was aged 78 years old and the doctors declared that  neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy would diminish the tumour so he was discharged from hospital to be with his family.

It was at this stage that Pierino, his sons, some of the Don Orione priests, friends and even the disabled people at the Cottolengo turned to Don Orione in prayer asking for his intercession. Surprisingly and without any explanation there was a speedy recovery and no traces of the deadly tumour could be found. Various tests were carried out in the the following 11 years and the findings were all clear.  This healing could not be explained scientifically, but the Church recognised it as a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Luigi Orione.

Pierino himself says “I remember only that I was very ill, blood was coming out of my mouth and I was feeling very worn out. I remember very little of being admitted to hospital; I find it easier to recall far away things, of my youth, rather than recent years.

After being discharged from hospital I started to feel well. I have always had a great trust in Don Orione and I pray for his intercession always. Since I recovered I must thank the Lord and Don Orione.”

The Canonisation May 16th 2004
Sunday May 16th 2004 was a very historic day in the life of the congregation of the Sons of Divine Providence. This was the day when its founder Luigi Orione was canonised. 

Here is an account written by one of the pilgrims about that day.

This day sees 63 pilgrims of Divine Providence from Britain and Ireland waking up in the Mondo Migliore centre, near Castel Gondolfo just outside Rome, planning to leave early so as to secure good seats in St Peters square. 

The coach dropped us off on the Via della Conciliazione at 7:30am on Sunday.  Most of us made our way into the seating area in St Peters square hoping to get close to the outside altar. A few of us were privileged to go as helpers with those in wheelchairs into the disabled persons section at the front of the congregation. The weather was glorious. The sun rolled over us like a huge natural spotlight. As well as Don Orione, five other men and women were to be canonised that day. Long before John Paul II came out banners and songs filled the air, as they did during the whole ceremony. You could sense an infectious enthusiasm together with a deep appreciation for the lives of the holy men and women whose faces smiled down on us from the banners set up on the facade of St Peters basilica. When John Paul II finally appeared to start the celebrations at about 9:30, he was greeted with loud cheers and long applause. He was flanked on his left with rows of cardinals and dignitaries, and on his right with rows of priests who helped him in concelebrating the mass. 

Don Orione, the Father of the poor, is now a Saint who intercedes for us in heaven. Pope John Paul said of him ... “His witness is alive still today. The world, all too often dominated by indifference and violence, needs persons like him who ‘fill with love the furrows of the earth (that are instead) so full of selfishness and hatred” (Writings, 62, 99). 

Not everybody could go to the canonisation. Some of the “family” had to make the sacrifice of staying at home! The canonisation was broadcasted on two major private networks, EWTN from the United States and Telepace from Italy, and so many got the chance to see it from the armchair rather than the obelisk!

Don Orione would be the first to use the media to his advantage had he lived today. He said we needed to be “ahead of the times”, and use all at our disposal to proclaim the good news of the gospel. 

May Saint Orione help us to be “Oriones” in today’s world.

On 25 June 2008, Pope Benedict XVI unveiled and blessed a statue of St. Luigi Orione, sculptured from white Carrara marble by Alessandro Romano. The statue, standing in one of the Michaelangelo niches of St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican, portrays Don Orione’s active life. He holds a bible in his right hand with the phrase “ONLY CHARITY WILL SAVE THE WORLD”. With his left hand Don Orione embraces a boy he has rescued from an earthquake. The embrace is paternal, kind and comforting. The boy is promised bread and the Word of God for the future.