|BL. LUIGI BELTRAME
and BL. MARIA CORSINI (1884-1965)
On Sunday, 21 October, the Holy Father will fulfil a desire he has expressed for many years: to beatify a married couple in recognition of how many men and women lead holy lives through the vocation of Christian marriage. On 7 July the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued separate decrees recognizing the holiness of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi as well as a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to their joint intercession. Three of their children were present for the ceremony of 7 July.
Luigi, a lawyer and civil servant, died in 1951 at the age of 71; Maria, who dedicated herself to her family and to several charitable and social Catholic movements, died in 1965 at the age of 81.
Stephania, their first daughter, now deceased, became a Benedictine nun with the name Sr M. Cecilia. Both sons became priests; one is now 95 years old, the other, 91. Another daughter, Enrichetta, dedicated herself first to caring for her parents, then for her brother. a diocesan priest of Rome; she is now in her 80s.
The Beltrame children recall that their parents led a simple life, like that of many married couples, but always characterized by a sense of the supernatural. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that they "made a true domestic church of their family, which was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity with the poor and to friendship".
Luigi was born on 12 January 1880 in Catania and grew up in Urbino. Luigi's uncle, Luigi Quattrocchi, who was childless, asked Luigi Beltrame's parents if he and his wife could raise the young Luigi in their home. Though Luigi kept his ties with his parents and siblings, he lived with his aunt and uncle, from whom he acquired his second surname name. After his basic preparatory education, he enrolled in the Faculty of Jurisprudence at "La Sapienza" University in Rome. He obtained a degree in Law which enabled him to enter the legal service of the Inland Revenue Department. He went on to hold a number of posts on the boards of a variety of banks and national reconstruction authorities like IRI and the Bank of Italy, retiring as an honorary deputy attorney general of the Italian State. He was a friend of many political figures, such as Fr Luigi Sturzo, Alcide de Gasperi and Luigi Gedda, who worked for Italy's rebirth after the Fascist period and World War II.
His meeting with Maria Corsini in her family home in Florence was to shape his future, as they were married on 25 November 1905 in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome.
Maria was born on 24 June 1884 in Florence to the noble Corsini family. She received a solid cultural formation helped by her family's involvement in the cultural life of the city of Florence. She loved music and was a professor and writer on educational topics as well as a member of several associations, including Women's Catholic Action.
The couple had four children. One year after their wedding, Luigi and Maria had their first son, Filippo. Then, Stefania and Cesare were born. Filippo (today Don. Tarcisio) is a diocesan priest. Cesare (Fr Paolino) left home in 1924 to become a Trappist monk. Stefania, in 1927, entered the Benedictine cloister in Milan and took the name Cecilia.
At the end of 1913, Maria was again expecting a child, her last, Enrichetta. Because of her difficult pregnancy, the best gynecologists advised her to have an abortion in order to "try to save at least the mother". The possibility of survival then with that diagnosis, was barely five per cent. Luigi and Maria refused to do it; they put their whole trust in the Lord's Providence. Maria's pregnancy was one of suffering and anguish. God responded beyond all human hope and thus Enrichetta was born; both she and her mother were safe,
This experience of faith clearly shows how the relationship between husband and wife grew in Christian virtue, certainly helped by attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion. Before marriage, Luigi, though he was exceptionally virtuous, honest and unselfish, did not have a strong faith.
Family life was never dull. There was always time for sports, holidays by the sea and in the mountains. Their house was always open to their numerous friends and those who knocked at their door asking for food. During the Second World War their apartment in Via Depretis, near St Mary Major, was a shelter for refugees. Every evening they prayed the Rosary together and the family was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, solemnly placed on the mantlepiece of their dining room. They also kept the family holy hour on the eve of the first Friday of the month, and participated in the night vigil prayer, weekend retreats organized by the Monastery of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, as well as graduate religious courses at the Pontifical Gregorian University, etc.
Maria, who took her maternal and household duties seriously, also found time to pray and write, besides keeping up her demanding apostolic activities, such as supporting the establishment of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart with Armida Barelli and Fr Agostino Gemelli and taking part in the General Council of the Italian Catholic Women's Association. She was a volunteer nurse for the Red Cross during the war in Ethiopia and the Second World War, catechist, UNITALSI volunteer with Luigi, and together with him and her children, started a scout group for youth from the poor parts of Rome. They were involved in several forms of marriage and family apostolate.
In the midst of all of her busy daily activities, the flourishing of the first three children's vocations took place, whose developments were followed with love and firmness for a greater generosity and faithfulness to the call of God. In addition, she was willing to offer her fourth child, Enrichetta, to the Lord, if this were asked of her. Then Maria together with her husband, Luigi, undertook a programme for their total response to any call from God, which in the end was the "difficult vow of the most perfect", offered to the Lord in humble obedience to their spiritual father. As is well-known, this vow means the renouncing of marital relations, which the two decided together after 20 years of marriage, when Luigi was 46 years old and Maria 41 (cf "Maria Corsini e Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi", by Mons. F. Di Felice in L'Osservatore Romano, Italian edition, 24 August 2001).
In November 1951, Luigi died of a heart attack in his home on via Depretis. After 14 years as a widow, Maria joined Luigi. On 26 August 1965, she died in Enrichetta's arms at their house in the mountains, at Serravalle. In 1993, their daughter, Sr Maria Cecilia, was united to her parents,
They were a couple who knew how to love and respect each other in the ups and downs of married and family life. They found in the love of God the strength to begin again. They never lost heart despite the negative part of family life: the tragedies of the war, two sons as chaplains in the army, the German occupation of Rome, and lived to see the reconstruction of Italy after the war as they moved forward with the grace of God on the way of heroic sanctity in ordinary life.
The cause for Beatification for Maria and Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi was opened on 25 November 1994 and, on 21 October 2001, the Holy Father John Paul II will raise the married couple to the honour of the altars. On 28 October, the relics of Luigi and Maria will be transferred to their crypt in the Shrine of Divino Amore (Divine Love) at Rome.
Weekly Edition in English
10 October 2001, page 11
L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
The Cathedral Foundation
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