Ludovico of Casoria
Saint Ludovico of Casoria, O.F.M., (Casoria, near Naples, 11 March 1814 – Posillipo, 30 March 1885), an Italian Franciscan and renowned social reformer, founded two Catholic religious congregations: the Grey Friars of Charity and the Grey Sisters of Saint Elizabeth. Pope Francis canonized him on 23 November 2014.
Born Arcangelo Palmentieri, he apprenticed as a cabinet maker in his youth. On 1 July 1832, he entered the novitiate of the Order of Friars Minor at which time he took the name Ludovico. Shortly after his ordination, he was appointed to teach philosophy and mathematics to the young members of the Order at the Franciscan priory of Saint Peter (San Pietro) in Naples.
Ludovico quickly embarked on a lifetime of establishing works to care for the poor and needy of the time, founding dispensaries and orphanages. About 1852 he opened a school for the education of African boys and girls redeemed from slavery. He also founded institutions for the deaf and the mute. He also worked to provide care for the elderly members of his own Order.
Following the advice of his superiors to find others to whom he could entrust this work, in 1859 he instituted a community of men as a religious congregation of the Franciscan Third Order Regular at San Pietro. They became known as the Gray Friars of Charity (Italian: Frati Bigi della Carità) on account of the traditional grayish or ashen color of the Franciscan religious habit. Three years later, he instituted likewise a congregation of religious women, known as the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth (Suore Elisabettiane Bigie), whom he placed under the protection of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, one of the first members of the Third Order of Saint Francis and its patron saint.
The work of the friars spread to the United States, where they served the Italian American community in New Jersey; the Holy See formally approved the friars in 1877. Due to the small number of members still in the congregation, the Holy See disbanded the friars in 1971. A new group of men and women, dedicated to his vision, however, currently exists in the process of forming.
The Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth currently serve in Italy, the United States, Ethiopia, India, Panama and the Philippines.
Death and veneration
A serious and painful illness attacked Ludovico around 1876; he never completely recovered and died nine years later.
His spiritual testament begins: "The Lord called me to himself with a most tender love, and with an infinite charity he led and directed me along the path of my life." ((Saint of the Day ))
- Acta Ordinis Minorum (May, 1907), 156-158;
- The Catholic World (November, 1895), 155-166;
- Voce di Sant' Antonio (July, 1907), 23-26.
- Saint of the Day
- An account in Italian of his founding of the first school in Umbria for the care of deaf-mutes.