The Vatican (Sunday, July 22, 2018, Gaudium Press) Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio, who died at the age of 19 from bone cancer, will be declared a saint Oct. 14 during the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment (to take place Oct. 3-28) in Rome, Pope Francis announced Thursday.
Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio (Public domain)
The Pope announced the date of the young Italian’s canonization during an ordinary public consistory at the Vatican July 19. The canonization will take place alongside six others, including those of Blesseds Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI, who presided over Sulprizio’s beatification.
At the beatification Dec. 1, 1963, Paul VI said that Blessed Nunzio teaches us that “the period of youth should not be considered the age of free passions, of inevitable falls, of invincible crises, of decadent pessimism, of harmful selfishness. Rather, he will tell you how being young is a grace.”
“He will tell you that no other age than yours, young people, is as suitable for great ideals, for generous heroism, for the coherent demands of thought and action,” the Pope continued. “He will teach you how you, young people, can regenerate the world in which Providence has called you to live, and how it is up to you first to consecrate yourselves for the salvation of a society that needs strong and fearless souls.”
Sulprizio said it was “God’s providence” that cared for him during his short life, and he would say, “Jesus endured so much for us, and by his merits, eternal life awaits us. If we suffer a little bit, we will taste the joy of paradise,” and “Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for him?”
Born in the Italian region of Abruzzo in 1817, Sulprizio learned the faith from a priest at the local school he attended and from his maternal grandmother.
He was orphaned before the age of 6, and after the death of his grandmother three years later, he went to live with an uncle, who took him on as an apprentice blacksmith, not permitting him to attend school anymore.
His uncle also mistreated him, sending him on long errands, beating him and withholding meals if he thought things were not done correctly or the boy needed discipline. The young Sulprizio would take consolation in Eucharistic adoration and in praying the Rosary.
While still very young, he contracted an infection in one of his legs, causing intense and constant pain, with a puss-oozing sore. Due to a lack of proper medical care, the boy developed gangrene and was sent to a hospital in Naples. There, he would unite his pain with Christ’s suffering on the cross, also helping his fellow patients.
During this time, Sulprizio was introduced to a colonel who treated him like a son and helped pay for his medical treatments. While in the hospital, the young man was visited by a priest who prepared him for his first confession and Holy Communion.
He also met St. Gaetano Errico, an Italian priest and founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who promised him he could enter the religious order when he was old enough.
Though he experienced periods of increasing health, Sulprizio contracted bone cancer. His leg was amputated, but it did not help, and he died from the illness shortly after his 19th birthday in 1836. One of the last things he told his friend the colonel, was: “Be cheerful. From heaven I will always be helping you.”
Source National Catholic Register