- In relazione con...
- La Beatificazione
Whoever visits our Mother-House in Torino can see (in what is now called the "Church of Blessed Joseph Allamano") the sarcophagus of Bd. Joseph Allamano, our Founder, and (not far from it) the more modest one of Fr. James Camisassa, our Co-Founder. But, this has not always been so...
The "mortal remains" of these two priests, who worked so closely together for 42 years, for a number of years have been apart.
Torino's General Cemetery
Fr. James Camisassa died on 18 August 1922, and on 21 August 1922 was buried in the part of the General Cemetery of Torino reserved for the clergy, in the section for the Canons.
Fr. Joseph Allamano died on 16 February 1926 and was buried in the same section of the General Cemetery of Torino on 18 February 1926.
As early as 1927, there was a plan to bring together into our Mother-House their mortal remains. At the death of Fr. Camisassa, Fr. Allamano said that he had wished that the two of them could be buried in the same grave. In 1927, Bishop Perlo had requested and was granted permission from "Propaganda Fide" to "transfer the mortal remains of Canon Joseph Allamano and of Canon James Camisassa from the General Cemetery of Torino to the Chapel (Public Oratory) that is [was] being built in the Mother-House of the Consolata Missionaries".
Unfortunately, however, for various reasons, the transfer did not take place.
The Consolata Missionaries had always felt that the mortal remains of their Founder should be in their Mother-House. It is true that he was a priest of the Torino Archdiocese all his life, and he worked at the Consolata Shrine as such, but they felt that, being their Founder, their Father, he had to be with them.
This desire became reality in 1938. After all the required arrangements had been made, on 11 October 1938 the mortal remains of Canon Joseph Allamano were transferred from the Torino's General Cemetery to our Mother-House in Corso Ferrucci. An inscription, prepared by Fr. Lorenzo Sales, pointed out the meaning of this transfer:
"Amore e pieta' di figli "Love and piety of children
riconoscenza di discepoli gratitude of disciples
accolgono la venerata salma welcome into this house
del Can. Giuseppe Allamano the venerated mortal remains
Fondatore dei Missionari e Missionarie of Canon Joseph Allamano
della Consolata in questa casa Founder of the Consolata Missionaries.
dove il suo spirito vive e si perpetua In this house his spirit is still alive
a santificazione di apostoli and perpetuates itself
in luce di redenzione alle genti." to sanctify new apostles
and be light of redemption for the nations."
After a whole night prayer vigil (in which many people participated), in the morning of 12 October 1938, with the participation of many Consolata Missionaries (men and women) and of Diocesan authorities and priests, a Mass was celebrated, during which the characteristics of Fr. Allamano, as a man, a priest, apostle and founder were remembered. Then the coffin was placed into the sarcophagus that had been prepared for it at the back of the church, where it is still now.
Here his missionaries (men and women) and the people who knew him started coming to pray and draw inspiration for their life.
But... a few years later, something happened that required the removal of our Founder's mortal remains from our Mother-House.
During World War II, our Mother-House on 20 and 28 November, and especially on 8 December 1942, was bombed, and the front wing was completely destroyed except the chapel where the sarcophagus of our Founder was.
For security reasons, on 15 March 1943 the coffin (still well preserved) was removed from the sarcophagus and quietly transferred to our House of Uviglie, at Rosignano Monferrato (Alessandria), which was part of an old castle, where the Theology Seminary had been previously transferred. There, after a prayer vigil, it was placed into a concealed underground area of the castle.
If our missionaries in the Mother-House missed him tremendously, the seminarians at Uviglie were thrilled at having the Founder with them. In the "Da Casa Madre" of March 1943, they wrote, "He is now living with us. Now we feel twice as much that he is our father. We will guard him, and he will guard us. The vital energy of his heart, still living among his children, will be absorbed by us, it will make us grow into giants, and make us run toward the goal that his silently speaking presence indicates to us."
Back to the Mother House
Our Founder's mortal remains stayed at Uviglie until 30 April 1949, when they were brought back to the re-built Mother-House in a rather solemn way and, after the Ritual Prayers for the Dead, they were placed back into his sarcophagus.
In the "Da Casa Madre" of May 1949, the Uviglie seminarians wrote, "After six years of forced concealment, our Founder goes back to his house. During these years, however, he has not been in exile, because he has been among his children who also needed him. For our Theology Seminary he was in a real way the foundation stone." In the same issue of "Da Casa Madre", the members of the Mother-House wrote, "We have been waiting... for six long years... Now he has returned to the heart of his beloved family, so that new sap may flow through the branches of the vine he has planted and made fruitful. He is back, and in our hearts grows a decisive will to follow him all the way in the courageous simplicity of his spirit."
There were two particular reasons that made the Founder's return even more meaningful. It was the 30th of April and, in those days in 1949, a painting of Our Lady Consolata, which was carried as a "pilgrim" through the churches and religious Houses of Torino, was about to arrive at our Mother-House. Also, when alive, our Founder used to go to the Mother-House House on the 30th of April of every year to prepare the community for the month of May, Mary's Month. The members of the Mother-House felt that the Founder had returned to prepare them for the visit of O.L. Consolata (the painting)!
Naturally, all the above sentiments were shared by the Consolata Missionary Sisters, whose Mother-House was [and is] next to ours.
Through all this time, the mortal remains of Fr. James Camisassa, our Co-Founder, continued to remain in the Torino's General Cemetery, in the clergy section reserved for the Canons. This lasted till 1976, when, at the Consolata missionaries' request, on the 15th of November they were transferred into the IMC Chapel of the Torino's General Cemetery.
Inspection of Venerable Joseph Allamano's mortal remains
When the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of the Saints had completed the examination of the life and work of our Founder, and after the Holy Father had declared the heroic degree of his virtues, before his beatification could take place, an inspection of his mortal remains was required. The reason for this is not just the "curiosity" to see how the body had been preserved. It is an ecclesial act: it is as if the Church "takes possession" of the mortal remains of one of his members whom she intends to propose to all the faithful for public veneration. Another reason is also to officially ascertain that the remains really belong to the Servant of God to whom they are attributed. The inspection/recognition of the mortal remains of Venerable Joseph Allamano took place on 3 October 1989, at the presence of a number of Consolata Missionaries (men and women) with their Superiors, the Archbishop of Torino, Giovanni Saldarini, diocesan priests, and a number of other people.
Surprisingly, the body of our Founder, in spite of the various transfers, was found in very good condition, as if naturally mummified, complete in all its parts. After all that was required had been accomplished, the body was carefully removed from the old coffin (partly slightly damaged), placed in a new one, and replaced in his sarcophagus, which had been slightly modified. In view of his beatification, the two-sloped top had been replaced by a flat marble slab. Also the little chapel in which the sarcophagus rested had been beautified: a stained-glass window had been placed at the back, on which the three fields of action of Fr. Allamano are seen: the Consolata Shrine, our Mother-House, and the world.
At the beginning of 1990, Fr. G. Pasqualetti, IMC wrote, “The sepulchres of the Saints are endowed with a particular grace. Their bodies sanctify the places in which they are laid and the people who visit them: they are for all ‘a source of sanctification and blessings’ (St. John Damascene). The Saints, in fact, have been disciples and imitators of Christ, faithful to him till the end. Even in their tombs, they are models of courage, and stimulate us to follow their examples. ‘The voice of these dumb bodies is more powerful than the voice of preachers... God has left their bodies with us. They have won, but their bodies have not yet taken part in the resurrection; and this was for you, for your good: they are in front of your eyes as athletes, in order to draw you into their race’ (St. John Chrysostom).”
Fr. Camissa's mortal remains come home
Just before the conclusion of the IMC Centenary celebrations in Torino (which took place on 7 October 2001), on 5 October 2001 the mortal remains of Fr. James Camisassa were transferred into our Mother-House, the House that he had planned, and had been built under his supervision. It took a long time to obtain all the permissions required, but finally the long dream and desire of the Consolata Missionaries, i.e., to have together Founder and Co-Founder as they had been in life, had become true. In the evening of the 5th of October there was a prayer vigil; then on the 6th of October a Mass was celebrated in the presence of the small steel coffin containing Fr. Camisassa's mortal remains. Fr. G. Pasqualetti, Regional Superior of Italy, presided; Fr. P. Trabucco, Superior General, Mgr. Franco Peradotto, Rector of the Consolata Shrine, and about fifty Consolata Missionaries and diocesan priests concelebrated; many Consolata Sisters and friends were also present.
In his homily, Fr. Pasqualetti recalled that, in the last days of his earthly life, the seriously ill Fr. Camisassa had in mind to go to the Mother-House, as he had been doing every day. On the last day he tried to get out of bed in order to "go to the Institute", but... he collapsed and died. Now he was at the Institute to stay! Founder and Co-Founder, different as they were, complemented and fulfilled one another in founding the two branches (men and women) of the Missionary Institute; it was very good to have their remains together, so that they could continue together to transmit to their sons and daughters their passion for mission.
Whoever now visits that corner of Bd. Joseph Allamano's church in Corso Ferrucci in Torino, especially the Consolata Missionaries, will find the whole Consolata Missionary Family there: the Mother (the Consolata picture that hanged over the bed of the dying Fr. Allamano when he was healed in 1900), the Father (Bd. Allamano's remains), his faithful collaborator for 42 years (Fr. Camisassa's remains), and the members of the Consolata Missionary Institutes, represented by the photographs of the Consolata Missionaries who “poured out their blood while in mission”.
(From: "Giuseppe Allamano: dalla Consolata al mondo", Gennaio-Marzo 1990;
"Da Casa Madre", Novembre 2001;
"Giuseppe Allamano: dalla Consolata al mondo", Gennaio 2002, Maggio-Agosto 2004,