|Saint Gaetano Catanoso|
|Born||February 14, 1879
Chorio di San Lorenzo, Reggio Calabria, Italy
|Died||April 4, 1963
Reggio Calabria, Italy
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||4 May 1997 by John Paul II|
|Canonized||23 October 2005, Rome, Italy by Pope Benedict XVI|
He was born to a prosperous family in Chorio, a small village outside of Reggio Calabria in the Aspromonte, one of eight children. He was ordained on September 20, 1902 and served as a parish priest his entire career. His first parish was in the remote hill village of Pentedattilo, where he served from 1904 until 1921. Extremely passionate about emulating the life of Christ in his service to the poor, Padre Catanoso would hike or ride on donkey to distant, surrounding mountain villages to bring the gospel and hope to isolated people in desperate circumstances. To help him in this cause, he founded an order of nuns—the Veronican Sisters of the Holy Face in 1934.
The nuns were mostly young women from poor families who were inspired by Padre Gaetano's humility, devotion and mission. Together, they established elementary schools and homes for the elderly in tiny places like San Lorenzo, Roccaforte and Chorio to educate children and care for the old and sick. The goal was to combat ignorance and the Mafia through education and the word of God. Padre Catanoso also founded the Poor Clerics to encourage priestly vocations. He was transferred to Santa Maria de la Candelaria in Reggio Calabria in 1921.
Catanoso had a deep devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and formed the "Confraternity of the Holy Face" in 1920. He wrote: "The Holy Face is my life. He is my strength". He also revived Marian and Eucharistic devotions, improved catechesis, and worked for observance of liturgical feasts. Worked for cooperation among local priests to provide missions by preaching and hearing confessions in each other's parishes. Spiritual director for several religious institutions, a prison, hospital and seminary for decades. Through all of this service, he was also devoted to the Catanoso family of Chorio and Reggio, serving as a spiritual mentor and trusted counselor.
The Catanoso family through the generations has supported his mission and his nuns. Padre Gaetano's mission has also spread to the Philippines and Tanzania. His rise to sainthood, which began in 1979, was remarkably rapid, just 26 years from start to finish. Most causes for sainthood take many decades or even centuries. On May 4, 1997 Pope John Paul II beatified him and on October 23, 2005 Pope Benedict XVI canonized him. Two healing miracles have been researched, verified and attributed to him by the Vatican.
An American relative of the saint, journalist Justin Catanoso of Greensboro, North Carolina, has written a family a memoir about Padre Gaetano Catanoso. The book is titled My Cousin the Saint - A Search for Faith, Family and Miracles.
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