Januarius Maria Sarnelli

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Blessed Januarius Maria Sarnelli
Born September 12, 1702
Naples, Italy
Died June 30, 1744
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II
Feast June 30

The Blessed Januarius Maria Sarnelli (September 12, 1702 – June 30, 1744) was one of S. Alphonsus Liguori's earliest companions.

Biography[edit]

As fourth son of Baron Angelo Sarnelli of Ciorani, he was born in Naples. From his childhood he was remarkable for modesty, self-denial, piety and great diligence in his studies. At the age of fourteen he desired to become a Jesuit, but his father objected and directed him to study law. He succeeded admirably in the legal profession, while daily Mass, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and attendance on the sick in the hospital of incurables filled up all his spare time.

At twenty-six he abandoned the bar and become a cleric. His zeal showed itself at once in his labours for children, whom he catechized with wonderful success. Admirable instructions on this most important matter may be found in his works for ecclesiastics. He was ordained priest in 1732 and immediately became a member of the Propaganda of Naples, a congregation of secular priests devoted to Apostolic work.

In 1733 he went to Scala and became one of the earliest companions of S. Alphonsus in founding the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. They worked together and gave missions along the coast of Amalfi till 1735, when Sarnelli's health gave way. He had to return to Naples, where he spent nine years in a poor apartment with one lay brother as companion. Scarcely had his health improved than he began a 'crusade' against the immorality of his time which has rarely been surpassed in boldness. Apparently God protected him in the dangers to which his zeal exposed him. His triumph was complete. His labours amongst the lowly and abandoned were continual; yet he found time to write many excellent works.

He died in his forty-second year on 30 June 1744.

Writings, veneration and legacy[edit]

In his writings he laid responsibility at the doors of ministers of state, while by his exhortations he created a public opinion which helped him on to success. He is known for his insistence on meditation as morally necessary for perseverance. He showed how simple it is and within the reach of everyone. It was his labours and success in this matter that occasioned, after the servant of God's death, the Apostolic letter of pope Benedict XIV and the Indulgences then granted to meditation (16 December 1746).

His first biographer, S. Alphonsus, wrote: "As soon as he had breathed his last breath his countenance suddenly became beautiful -- and his body exhaled a sweet odour -- which remained in the room long after the interment." His body reposes in a side chapel in the Redemptorist church in Naples. He was declared Venerable in 1874. A decree on his heroic virtues was published in 1906, and only miracles were required for his Beatification. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 12, 1996.

A complete edition of Sarnelli's works have been published at Naples, Tipografia, Largo S. Martino, No. 4, as follows:

  • Il Mondo Santificato, 2 volumes
  • L'Anima Illuminata; Il Mondo Reformato, 3 volumes
  • L'Ecclesiastico Santificato; Le Glorie e Grandezze della Divina Madre; Le Discrezione degli Spiriti
  • Il Cristiano Illuminato; Dirretto ed ammaestrato; Opera contra la Bestemmia; Ragioni Cattoliche, legali e politiche, in difesa della citta rovinata dall'insolentito meretricio
  • Il Cristiano Santificato; Lettere Spirituali
  • Devozioni pratiche per onorare la SS. Trinita e Maria e Devozioni per apparecchio ad una buona morte.

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