Bl. Jacob Giacomo Cusmano
reliquary with Bronze Medal in a beautiful casing.
BLESSED GIACOMO CUSMANO, PHYSICIAN AND PRIEST +1888
An inspiring person who died on the eve of his fifty-fourth birthday in Palermo, the physician and priest Giacomo Cusmano was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 30, 1983.
This Italian Blessed was born on March 15, 1834, in Palermo on the island of Sicily. He received his first schooling in his parents house from a priest-tutor. This perhaps laid the foundation for his piety, which was then deepened at the Collegio Massimo of the Jesuits in Palermo. Hence the young medical student was armed against the threats to religion and morals during his studies at the University in Palermo.
After Giacomo Cusmano had brilliantly completed a doctorate in medicine and surgery, he practised the medical profession from 1855 to 1859 with intelligence, skill and zeal, caring particularly for those poor sick people who could not afford a doctor. Soon he noted that many of his patients from the poorer sections of the city of Palermo were in much greater need of a priestly physician of souls. He began to study theology as well, and on December 22, 1860, he was ordained a priest.
Now both doctor and priest, he felt compelled to start an institution for his poor patients that he called Boccone del Povero (Food of the Poor). He began by gathering medicines, foodstuffs and other material relief for the poor and by distributing these donations to them in their lodgings. Out of this developed a society, which was authorized in 1867 by Archbishop G. B. Naselli of Palermo and was finally approved and blessed by Pope Pius IX.
The physician-priest Father Cusmano wanted to provide his institution with a band of auxilliaries, women and men who would help serve the poor; after twelve years of labour pains, such an association of lay brothers and sisters came into being. On May 13, 1880, the Blessed was able to present the habit to the first Sisters; on October 14, 1884, after a long preparation, he conferred the habit upon the first lay Brothers of the Servants of the Poor. On November 21, 1887, Dr Cusmano erected also the Congregation of Missionary Fathers, who were commissioned to proclaim the Good News to the poor and furthermore to direct and minister to the Servants of the Poor. Then Dr Cusmano founded additional hostels, hospitals and orphanages for the poor people in Palermo and in other Sicilian localities. His work soon extended to other regions of Italy, as well as to Africa and to both North and South America.
The ideal that personally motivated this Blessed and that he wanted the members of his societies to put into action was unlimited charity. One of his first collaborators, later the archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Giuseppe Guarino, wrote about Giacomo Cusmano: God has placed deep within the bosom of this physician and priest the heart of Saint Vincent de Paul. The fervour of his love for the poor was unsurpassable; the integrity of his blameless conduct was truly angelic; the kindness beaming from his face recalled Saint Francis de Sales. I have followed him very attentively through all the stages of his virtuous life, and I must acknowledge: I have never met a priest who was so zealous for the salvation of souls, so amiable and so holy as he.
On February 9, 1888, Giacomo Cusmano said at the inaugural meeting of the committee of the Ladies of Charity presumably with a view to his approaching death. My mission is now finished. In fact, he died a few weeks later, on March 14, 1888, in his fifty-fourth year and in the odour of sanctity, lamented and mourned by countless people. The orations that were given at his funeral were very moving; they spoke quite clearly of a saint who had gone home, of an Italian Vincent de Paul.
Pope John Paul II characterized this Blessed on October 30, 1983, in this way:
To heal the wounds of poverty and misery which were afflicting such a large part of the population because of recurring famines and epidemics, but also because of social inequality, (Blessed Giacomo Cusmano) chose the way of charity: love for God which was translated into effective love for his brethren and into the gift of himself to the most needy and suffering in a service pushed to the point of heroic sacrifice.
After opening a first House for the Poor, he began a broader work of social promotion by instituting the Morsel for the Poor Association, which was like the mustard seed from which a very vigorous plant sprung up. Making himself poor with the poor, he did not disdain begging in the streets of Palermo, soliciting everyone's charity and collecting food which he then distributed to the innumerable poor who gathered around him.
His work, like all of God's works, encountered difficulties which severely tested his will, but with immense confidence in God and with his indomitable will power, he overcame every obstacle, giving origin to the Institute of the Sisters Servants of the Poor and to the Congregation of Missionary Servants of the Poor.
He led his spiritual sons and daughters to the practice of charity in fidelity to the evangelical counsels and in striving for holiness. His rules and spiritual letters are documents of an ascetic wisdom in which strength and gentleness are merged. The central idea was this: To live in the presence of God and in union with God; to receive everything from God's hands; to do everything out of pure love and the glory of God.
- F. Holboeck
*This relic comes also with a beautiful paper parchment with blessing from Pope Francis*
This wonderful relic has also been blessed by Pope Francis during public audience in Saint Peter Square during the Papal Blessing held on November 1st: All Saints.