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- La Beatificazione
"Popular" devotion (common in all good Christian families) was certainly learnt by Joseph Allamano in his home. The Hail Mary was very probably one of the first prayers he learnt from his mother...
The time spent with Don Bosco certainly helped him grow in devotion to Mary, and so did the years he spent in the Seminary.
The years of Bd. Allamano's infancy and adolescence were special years for the devotion to Mary (Bd. Allamano was born in 1851; the Immaculate Conception was defined in 1854!)
Fr. Sales, IMC, the first biographer of Bd. Allamano, wrote that devotions to the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary were his greatest devotions.
Let's look at some particular moments of his life.
In October 1866 (age 15) he received the Clerical Habit (cassock) -- a custom of that time -- on the feast of the Maternity of Mary (celebrated at that time on 2nd Sunday of October).
As a Seminarian he made a resolution to grow in Marian devotion: to this end he made use of several means: e.g., some short Marian writings on his exercise books (“To you, Mary, glory and honour”, and others; Saturdays dedicated to Mary; resolution to participate in daily Mass "in the company of Mary on Calvary, and to receive Holy Communion with Mary's sentiments at the Incarnation" (Fr. Sales).
Note of 1872 (age 21), before receiving Sub-Diaconate (the first Major Order at that time): "Offer your chastity to the BVM and to St. Joseph, that she may help you prepare for living it. To this purpose, offer some mortification on Saturday (besides the usual practices in her honour)..."
On 16th July 1872 (feast of O.L. of Mt. Carmel), to prepare for Sub-Diaconate (to be received on 21/12/1872), he makes a private vow of chastity to be valid till 8/12 (Immaculate Conception) of that year. [During the Ordination to Sub-Diaconate a public and perpetual vow of chastity was taken!]. This is the formula he used:
"O Mary, Queen and Mother of virgins…, I offer and totally consecrate to you ... my virginity, imploring you to purify it from any possible stain, and to adorn it with the purity of your own virginity, and so present it to Jesus, your Divine Son, that he may place it in his Sacred Heart. Obtain for me the grace, O Mary, that, as you present my virginity to Jesus today, so I may present it intact, through you, on Judgement Day, and so become one of the stars in your crown..."
Note before Ordination to Sub-Diaconate (probably from a talk heard...):
"Think about and wait for the oncoming Ordination as Mary waited and prepared for her Annunciation, i.e., by growing and becoming deeply rooted in humility, virginity, and spirit of prayer. After receiving the Ordination with the same spirit of Mary at the Annunciation, live in the same way she lived during the 9 months she bore the Divine Baby in her womb (you, too, have 9 months to wait before, God willing, you will be ordained a priest): meditate on and imitate her way of life during that time..."
On 25th of March, 1873, four days before being ordained a Deacon (age 22), during the Spiritual Retreat in preparation to the Ordination, he wrote: “Today, feast of the Annunciation, I have chosen Mary (and I hope she has accepted to be) as my dearest Mother...; this I did in order to overcome, in a special way, my pride, because I want to imitate her humility as well as her chastity and love for God. I will turn to Mary, my dearest Mother, in any need of mine...; I will be very devoted to her, in order to become a less unworthy son of hers. May she help me prepare for my Ordination (Diaconate) by obtaining for me the same attitude she had at the Incarnation...”
He preached his first homily, as a Deacon on the feast of the Assumption of the BVM 1873, at the invitation of his Parish Priest. Years later, he told the first Consolata Missionaries that he had accepted to preach, not only to please his Parish Priest, but also to give thanks to Mary for his vocation, and to obtain through her the grace to receive the Sacrament of Priesthood in a saintly way.
Ordained a priest on 20 September 1873 (age 22 years and 8 months), he celebrated his “First Mass” the next day (a Sunday) which in his parish was the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
In his RULE OF LIFE (composed by him as a young priest), we read:
Month of May: dedicated to Mary. During this month, daily meditation on Mary's virtues;
Every Saturday of the year: fast in honour of the BVM;
Every day: Rosary;
At night (just before going to bed), kneeling in front f the Crucifix and picture of Our Lady, ask for forgiveness (for daily faults...) and say the short prayers, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…” (1)
In October 1876 (age 25), he became Spiritual Director in the Diocesan Seminary. There he began to reveal himself as the "Apostle of Mary" (Fr. L. Sales).
Devotion to Mary was one of the practices he frequently encouraged. This appears from his notebooks and the testimonies of those who were Seminarians at that time.
"As part of the clergy, we are bound to Mary with a special bond. We are similar to her. She generated Christ as Man, and we generate him mystically on the altar. In our work we must make use of the example and intercession of Mary”.
He presented Mary to the seminarians as one of the means (together with prayer, mortification and the Eucharist) necessary to preserve the virtue of chastity. He used to encourage visits to the Consolata Shrine (Patroness of the Archdiocese of Torino).
On 2nd October 1880 (age 29), he entered the Consolata Shrine as Rector. Here his devotion to Mary "exploded”… Besides all his initiatives to renovate the Shrine and devotion to Mary, we remember in a special way his "conversations" with O. L. Consolata from the "coretto" (little choir-loft) seen on the right (above the Altar) as one looks at the (main) Altar from the main entrance...
In his teaching to the students at the Pastoral Institute [“Convitto Ecclesiastico”] connected to the Shrine, he used to present devotion to Mary as one of the means for achieving holiness:
“We must be 'familiar' (have a deep experience) with devotion to Mary and propagate it; but... a solid devotion, based mainly on the imitation of her virtues"
Canon Cappella (helper and then successor of Bd. Allamano as Rector) wrote: "He never left the Shrine-compound without first going inside the Shrine to greet the Blessed Virgin Consolata; the same he did when returning…"
Canon A. Bretto who, after a number of years, succeeded Canon Allamano as Rector of the Consolata Shrine), in a talk to the Consolata Sister in 1971, mentioned that Fr. Allamano occasionally told some people about the following prayer of his to Our Lady Consolata:
“I thank you, Holy Virgin, for having been the guardian of this Shrine of yours for many years.
What have I done for you during these years?
If there had been somebody else in my place, how much he would have done!
But…, I don’t want to delve into this...
If I had been so bad, you would not have kept me for so many years…
I like to think of this as a consoling sign of your favour.
If I have not done everything well, please, take care of it yourself, fix it, and forget about it…
Accept everything as if I had done it perfectly, and take things as they are.
You have kept me; so, you must be satisfied…”.
“And”, with great simplicity he concluded, “it seemed to me that Our Lady smiled…”
We are familiar with his talks to the Consolata Missionaries (men and women) about Our Lady. Their content may be found in “The Spiritual Life” (pp. 566-605), or in “This I want you to be…” (pp. 211-226). We may just quote one of his statements which reflects his attitude in this regard: “I would be failing in my duty and my special affection for the B. V. Mary, if I did not take advantage of every opportunity to speak to you about her”.
His last words here on earth were, “Amen. Ave Maria”.
He was numbered among the Blessed by Pope John Paul II on 7th October, 1990, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary!