Today, June 7th, we celebrate the feast of *Saint Antonio Maria Gianelli* (1789 – 1846), Bishop of Bobbio, famed confessor, preacher, and pastor and also the founder of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden and the Missionaries of Saint Alphonsus.
Anthony grew up in a poor but pious family in a small farming village near Genoa, Italy with 5 brothers. His mother taught catechism, and his father was known as a generous peace-maker in the town.
As a child, people were often struck by his gentle nature, industriousness, and extraordinary intelligence. The lady who owned the farm his family lived on became his generous benefactress. He studied dogmatic theology and sacred liturgy and earned his doctorate.
He served as a parish priest in Mantua and was made the archpriest of Chiavari in 1826 and he held that position until 1837. Although Fr. Anthony was dedicated to his educational work, he also devoted himself to the work of preaching and hosting missions. He was often confined to his confessional for long stretches of time in order to accommodate the endless stream of penitents who flocked to him for spiritual aid.
In 1827, he founded the Missionaries of St. Alphonsus, which lasted until 1848. He also founded the Oblates of Saint Alphonsus in 1828, which lasted 20 years. Antony began an economic society of women to teach girls living in poverty. It was the beginning of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden, which he founded in 1829, still continue their ministry in education and among the sick in Europe, Asia and the United States.
He was named bishop of Bobbio, Italy in 1837 and he was a people’s bishop, visiting with his parishes and organizing two synods.
He died after nine years as bishop on June 7, 1846 due to a serious fever at the age of 57. Pope Pius XI beatified him on 19 April 1920 and Pope Pius XII canonized him on 21 October 1951.
*Saint Antonio Maria Gianelli, pray for us.*