lunedì 4 luglio 2016


By Dr. Massimo Gandolfini, the doctor under whose care Bruno Cocchetti was placed

On the fourteenth of February, 1988 a student from Brescia, Bruno Cocchetti, who was eleven and a half years old was accidentally hit by a car. He received severe trauma to his face with an immediate loss of consciousness. He was promptly rescued and taken to the intensive care unit in the civil hospital of Brescia. When I visited him, I saw right away that his condition was serious: a deep coma that needed artificial respiration. The computed axial tomography was done immediately and others tests some hours later. They showed severe brain damage with hemorrhages and signs of endocrine hypertension. A surgical intervention would not have yielded any benefit. After about six hours his clinical condition worsened further becoming desperate due to damage to the brain stem. It was logical to expect an inauspicious outcome within a short time. At that time, I was an assistant at the neurosurgical clinic in the university of Brescia and unfortunately I had seen similar cases. I wanted to simplify the problem. There were two possible clinical outcomes: death or slow recovery of consciousness with serious neurological and physical disabilities. In these exact terms, I explained this to the parents and relatives of the boy. However, to my astonishment, the following clinical development began to contradict my words. Within forty hours the patient had started an unhoped for and unprecedented recovery that brought him to complete life autonomy: no neurological focal loss remained and the superior symbolic functions and psycho ­emotional life were perfectly normalized. I immediately had the impression/sensation that from a scientific, medical point of view something “exceptional” and “inexplicable” had happened. It was not his survival that amazed me (modern reanimation techniques allow us to save the life of these patients), rather it was the quality of perfect healing reached in such a short interval (the technical term is the “quod modum”of the “restitution ad integrum”). Therefore, I decided to carefully analyze all the international literature on this subject from 1970 to 1990, recruiting the involvement of other neurosurgeons and resuscitation specialists in this ponderous work. The accurate and scrupulous research essential for a serious and documented study brought us to this conclusion: in the clinical cases we have previously seen and treated, our scientific knowledge does not permit us to explain an outcome of total healing. There still remained some “black hole”. Something “scientifically inexplicable” happened stated Dr. Massimo Gandolfini, head physician and neurosurgeon, director of the neuroscience department of Brescia Hospital, member of the ethical commission of the association of physicians of the province of Brescia, and also consultant neurosurgeon of the Holy Congregation for the Cause of the Saints at the Holy See. The path to sainthood is long and winding. The Church, before lifting someone to the honors of the altar, requires proof and imposes checks and witnesses beyond any reasonable doubt. So it was for Father Giovanni Piamarta. On the morning of the fourteenth of February 1988, the eve of the feast of Saint Faustino and Giovita, patron Saints of the city of Brescia, Bruno left home and walked towards the middle school of Sereno, a village very close to his home. But, while he was crossing the street, a car hit him throwing him far. His condition immediately appeared desperate. The medical doctors of the emergency center transferred him to the resuscitation center with a diagnosis that did not leave any hope: cranial trauma with multiple injuries, deep coma and a state of shock. Near him, his parents were desperate - crushed by the pain. They fervently wished to pray, but did not know which Saint to pray to. An uncle Father Ettore Pelati, general bursar of the congregation of Father Piamarta, asked to his friend Gandolfini to take care of his nephew. “When I saw the boy, said the medical doctor and knew that the prognosis was so serious, I answered the priest that only a miracle could save this boy from death”. “I will ask to his parents and friends, Father Pelati replied to beseech the intercession of Father Giovanni Piamarta and to start a novena of prayers”. The prayer wound through the chapel of the Artigianelli Institution where Father Piamarta is buried, the church of Bruno’s parish and the chapel of the hospital. What medicine could not do, faith and prayers raised to heaven and beseeching Father Piamarta’s intercession did. Sixty days after the terrible accident, Bruno came back to school completely healed! This miracle opened the doors to Father Giovanni Piamarta’s beatification and canonization. In 1990 the Brescian Curia instructed the Diocesan process (legally approved by the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints) that would have recognized it officially. This happened when the medical council of the department, on the twenty seventh of June 1996, declared with unanimity that Bruno’s healing “was very fast, complete, durable and scientifically inexplicable”. After a few months and several tests the Congregation concluded that Bruno’s healing is to be considered “a miracle operated by God through the intercession of the Venerable Giovanni Piamarta”. So Giovanni Piamarta was proclaimed Blessed on the twelfth of October 1997 by John Paul II, who was also loved by the young and would also in the future be beatified. On that Autumn day among the five thousand people, gathered in Brescia to greet the newly beatified, Bruno was also present to show gratitude and love to the one who gave him his life back. 

Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi


venerdì 12 febbraio 2016


First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter Eleven

1. The Saints do not live only in God, but continue to live in their works, in their teachings, in the memory of those who met them, and in the hearts of those who benefited from them. Father Piamarta left a religious family that continues his work, cultivates his memory and makes him alive acting in accordance with his spirit.

2. In his last will and testament he had assured them that he would accompany his successors “by the heart of Blessed Jesus” and foresaw “the continuous progressive prosperity” of the work he had started.

3. One hundred years later, Father Piamarta's work continues among young boys in Italy, Brazil, Chile, Angola, and Mozambique, in centers of reception, professional formation, in assistance to “Meninos de rua”, in poor neighborhoods, schools, parishes, boarding schools and continues always with and for young boys following the evangelical counsel: “what you did to one of these little ones, you did to me”.

4. The imprint of Father Piamarta is found in the Spirit of the family and in collaboration with lay people. His congregation is dedicated to the Holy family of Nazareth and its members work hard to live as one family and face education as a good family would with the necessary comprehension of the issues of the boys, but also requiring the collaboration of all of them, and cultivating their sense of responsibility.

5. The collaboration of the lay people is due to the enlargement of the religious family. This requires certain competencies, a generous investment of personal energy, alumni who practice “gratitude as a major virtue”, a heart sensitive to the sufferings of the poorest, and people who are convinced that education is the most important and decisive task of the world. Why do you not also join in the work of Father Piamarta?

6. Also, the Christian culture was promoted and cultivated by the Queriniana Press, which contributed with its international opening to the renewal of the spirituality and the theological thought in accordance with the Spirit of the II Vatican Council. The first works of the theologian, Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI were spread in Italy by the Queriniana Press.

7. On October 12, 1997 the Church officially recognized the Holy and exemplary life of Father Piamarta, declaring him Blessed. The poor boy from Brescia entered into heaven rich, the humble priest was exalted by the Church and by the jubilant crowd of his sons, who toiled, suffered, and sometimes did not understand him. He entered into the ranks of those persons who can help us, who work to render the life of the young boys more human in the comprehension of their difficulties and their dignity as sons of God.

Let us pray:

O Merciful God, you roused in the Blessed Father Piamarta, your enlightened and fervent priest, a solicitude for educating young boys in living the Christian life, in having a job, raising a family, and contributing to society, concede that by his intercession we may live and act in your provident Fatherly love and feel the strength of your help as we strive to reach eternal beatitude.

Through Christ Our Lord Amen.

 Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi

domenica 31 gennaio 2016


Di fronte ai contemporanei

Ho sempre trovato nel P. Piamarta una fede viva; la manifestava nella celebrazione della S. Messa, nel predicare, nel correggere, nell’impedire il peccato, nel promuovere il bene. Sapeva sollevare anche gli altri alla fiducia in Dio (M. Treachi, Summ. 30 §114).

Soprattutto dal calore delle sue prediche appariva la sua fede: stigmatizzava i cristiani di carta pesta, come diceva lui. Sempre si vedeva in lui, atti e parole, il sacerdote e non l’uomo. Poneva sempre appoggio nella provvidenza e lo inculcava a noi. Nei momenti critici ci faceva pregare. Confidava più nel Signore che negli uomini (S. Figaroli, Summ. 42 § 159).

Ebbe fede soprannaturale paragonabile alla fede di Abramo, il cui esempio citava di frequente. Anche le difficoltà insorgenti dal mistero della predestinazione veniva da lui risolta da una gran fede nelle affermazioni della bontà di Dio il quale vuol salvi tutti e può salvarli diceva, pur rispettando la loro libertà (P. Galenti, Summ. 57 §188).

La fede era l’unico movente della sua attività e per la fede era disposto a dare anche la vita, e questo l’ho sentito affermare più volte, e nella predicazione inculcava a tutti l’amore alla fede: tutti gli avvenimenti li vedeva nella luce della fede (P. Serioli, Summ. 91 § 234).

Fu un uomo di grande fede che la dimostrava nella predicazione perché gli veniva dal cuore. Si adoperava molto perché anche le anime lontane si avvicinassero […]. Pregava moltissimo, si può dire che fosse quasi sempre in preghiera […]. Nella predicazione era forte, convincente, attraente. Talvolta quando spiegava la storia sacra la campana dava il segnale della fine: i ragazzi erano malcontenti perché avrebbero desiderato che continuasse (I. Mora, Summ. 103 § 263).

L’ho visto pregare in tal modo che se ne vedono pochi pregare così. E ripeteva anche a noi ragazzi: «bisogna avere fede, ragazzi! bisogna aver fede!». E nelle prediche pure traspariva questa fede in Dio (S. Astesati, Summ. 108 § 281).

Viveva di fede. Tutta la sua vita era basata su Dio (G.B. Giacomelli Summ. 131 § 349).

sabato 9 gennaio 2016



First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter ten

1. On June 16, 1912 came a triumph. At the Artigianelli Institution they celebrated the twentyfifth anniversary of the foundation. Lots of recognitions, letters and telegrams came from all over; lots of alumni came; the civil and religious authorities were present; testimonies of the tremendous good done abounded. Everybody applauded and joined in the celebration. The foundation of this magnificent Institution was obtained through effort and pain, sweat and sacrifice, but had been crowned by a great number of dear young boys, grown up as true Christians.

2. The Institution by now was really beautiful and impressive. From the first house back then to the present, many more buildings had been added or completed with extending arcades, and a beautiful church in 1907. Father Piamarta listened, but he seemed distant. His mind was on the benefactors without whom he could not have done anything. He admired their generosity and also the confidence they put in him despite his lack of titles or prior success. “Gratitude has to be the first virtue of this Institution” he would repeat continuously. He remembered them all, especially the siblings: Muzzarelli, Marietta and Angelo, and also all the other humble persons who dedicated their lives for his boys, beginning with Filippa Freggia, the mother of the early days.

3. He was grateful for the nice group of priests and religious brothers that surrounded him and guaranteed the continuation of his work. He knew that this family was the best gift that Our Lord could have given him. He perceived that they were graced with a true priestly spirit, active, practical, and sensitive to the poor. “Now your servant can leave in peace” he whispered in a low voice “because my eyes saw your liberation,” prepared for many young boys and guaranteed also after my departure.

4. His dearest friend, the one from the adventure at Maddalena Mountain--do you remember him?--wrote to him a few days before: “your sensitive soul deserves the most affectionate admiration from all our fellow citizens. You have rightly enjoyed an early paradise”. “The paradise in heaven may be” answered Father Piamarta, but “purely in the human sense the work here gave me a lot of suffering, tribulation, terrible pain, and all kinds of disillusionment.

5. Truly, among these difficulties, Providence guided and helped him. He recognized that this work was not desired by him but by the One Who “provides for the least of His sons”. The One Who chose him as poor priest “a stain of ink at the bottom of the golden book of charity” to prove that we are little instruments in God’s almighty hands. For this he recommends “not counting only on the human calculations” but “always trusting the certain help of God” who will keep His work in our lives until we consider it His work.

6. Looking forward in time, Father Piamarta was sure that his many efforts were not useless and that he “a lazy and useless servant” would be made more useful “by the heart of Blessed Jesus,” when in heaven he would follow better “the continuous prosperity of the work” that Our Lord put in his hands and which he was at last ready to give into the hands of his successors.

7. The applause made him laugh, but he thought of those young boys he would have helped, but he could not since they did not come to him though he waited for them. “Now is the time to pray more for them” Father Piamarta stated. “If I have not seen them today, I will see them in heaven”. He entered into paradise on the 25th of April, 1913.

 Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi


49. Dal “Diario” di Padre Piamarta di Pier Giordano Cabra

Fra le cose che più mi hanno preoccupato in questi ultimi tempi e mi hanno fatto soffrire, devo ricordare l’esplosione della conflittualità sociale, che agli inizi ho stentato ad accettare e che ho compreso, in certo qual modo, solo col passare del tempo.

La crisi del Bonsignori

Per Padre Bonsignori lo scoppio delle rivendicazioni salariali è stato un trauma vero e proprio. Egli che si era battuto per migliorare la situazione dei figli dei campi attraverso l’aumento della produzione e l’incremento della cooperazione, vede nella lotta di classe un segno “dell’invadente fiumana socialista che monta e invade”. Fino a scrivere nel 1907: “Siamo completamente tagliati fuori dal movimento sociale odierno”.  “Non è più questione di produzione, cioè di preparare la torta tanto grossa che tutti siano contenti. Non è neppure questione di cooperazione onde conseguire più facilmente gli scopi economici. Ora la questione sta nella lotta di classe. Anche per i cattolici l’organizzazione non ha tutto lo spirito evangelico del “fate agli altri quello che vorreste fosse fatto a voi”.

A Brescia

Anch’io ho avuto le mie crisi, specie quando sono cominciate le agitazioni delle maestranze delle mie officine, agitazioni dirette e imposte dalla Camera del lavoro allora in mano a “socialisti violenti, anticlericali e antireligiosi”. Una dolorosa sorpresa, quella di vederci considerati alla stregua degli altri “padroni”. Mi sembrava che chi lavorava con noi dovesse condividere, almeno idealmente, le nostre finalità e comprendere un poco di più le nostre difficoltà economiche. Non solo: ma temevo che queste organizzazioni, “negatrici di tutti i principi cristiani”, manipolassero e monopolizzassero i lavoratori che prestavano la loro opera nelle nostre officine, con grande danno sulla formazione morale e religiosa dei nostri ragazzi. Per questo ho resistito e ho accettato di entrare in trattative solo più tardi con i rappresentanti delle Unioni Cattoliche del Lavoro, appena costituite a Brescia. Trattative felicemente concluse, anche grazie all’intervento dell’avvocato Giorgio Montini e dell’on. Longinotti. “Tanto che l’Istituto Artigianelli fu tra i primi ad adottare l’orario delle otto ore in tutte le sue officine”.

Un cambio di mentalità

Mi sono accorto che i tempi nuovi esigono nuove modalità di applicare i sempre validi principi evangelici. Se in un primo momento ho sentito gli scioperi come contrari al principio di fraternità, in una riflessione più pacata, mi sono reso conto che di fronte alla mancanza di fraternità favorita dalle ingiustizie sociali, lo sciopero era un mezzo, anche se estremo, per costruire una società più giusta. E che mio compito non era oppormi allo sciopero, ma di metterlo in guardia dalle tentazioni dell’odio e dalla violenza. Vedo pure che le esigenze del mondo del lavoro sono cambiate. All’inizio dovevo preparare artigiani, mentre oggi vengono più richiesti gli operai specializzati i quali hanno a che fare con il lavoro organizzato. L’evoluzione della società obbliga a cambiare mentalità e a dare risposte nuove alle nuove domande: come vivere da cristiani in una società che cambia e che diventa conflittuale? Si, ho faticato e anche sofferto, in questo cambiamento, ma ho appreso che la mia visione delle cose doveva essere allargata per comprendere ciò che stava succedendo, anche per preparare i giovani alla nuova realtà. Quanti cambiamenti bisogna fare per essere fedeli al Vangelo che non cambia!

domenica 3 gennaio 2016



First Encounter with Father Piamarta - By Pier Giordano Cabra

Chapter nine

1. Father Piamarta wanted his boys free and strong. Free so as not to be subjugated by the current mentality, strong to resist easy evils. Free so as to not be roped in by the gang, strong so as to live with adherence to their own certainties. His times were full of social and political contrasts between laissez faire and socialism. The first concerned itself with accumulating goods, the second with distributing goods equally. Father Piamarta, emphasizing the practical, said to his boys, “it is necessary to be free, to be useful to yourselves and to others”. He insisted they learn the civic virtues: honesty, a sense of duty, honoring their word, and participating in public life with a sense of service. To those who told him that he spoke too little about rights, he answered that to learn our rights it takes a week, to learn our duties it takes more than a life time.

2. He was also convinced that in modern society, a young boy works hard or fails. He behaves as an apostle or risks becoming an apostate. He shines or is absorbed by mediocrity. An apostle is one who cares for the needs of others and is ready to go out of his way to do what is possible. In 1902 Father Piamarta heard of plans to impede the civic procession of Corpus Christi. He called his boys and he deployed them to protect the procession; and the procession took place. An apostle is willing to pay for his ideas. An apostle “does not follow the path of the wicked, but walks in the law of God”.

3. He did not want morose, sad, pessimistic, introverted, severe boys. To them he repeated the “Maxims” of Saint Philip Neri, which are short and simple words of human and Christian wisdom born from deep spiritual meditations and the school of life. “Boys be happy; scruples and sadness leave my home.” “Blessed are you young boys because you have the time to do good.” “You must work hard, God does not know what to do with slackers.” He often said, “A rich person is not one who owns more, but the one who needs less”. He also said, “Do not be like people who live as though they never have to die. These die as if they never have lived”.

4. He supported all the free spread of the happiness, alternating the hard daily duty with lively recreation, frequent day trips to the country, solemn choral singing, popular musical bands, and acclaimed theater productions; reaching in these sectors levels of excellence well known throughout the city and province. The Artigianelli band was the one chosen for the occasion of the majestic inauguration of the monument to the Savior on Mount Guglielmo on August 20th, 1902. It was an unforgettable day. Among the many present there was a reserved and clapping boy, Giovanni Battista Montini, destined to become famous. A century later he was present again in that place with a statue representing him in the role of the Roman Pontiff Paul VI. Perhaps in the solitary limpid stellar nights, he sometimes listens again to those merry and solemn notes that Father Piamarta and the young boys played there that day as a homage to the Savior of the world!

Traduzione a cura di Mary Levine e Matteo Toschi
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