VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Friday recognized the heroic virtue of six persons on the path to canonization, as well as the martyrdom of an Italian man who died from injuries of a beating he received while imprisoned in a concentration camp for resisting fascism.
The Pope met June 16 with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, giving his approval for the causes to move forward.
He recognized the martyrdom of Venerable Teresio Olivelli, a layman “killed in hatred of the faith” Jan. 17, 1945, at the age of 29.
Venerable Olivelli was born in 1916. He graduated with a degree in law and went on to contribute to papers on legal and social issues of the time, before becoming a volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War and in World War II.
During the war, his views towards the Italian fascist regime of Benito Mussolini soured. He founded a newspaper dedicated to promoting the Christian message and tried to infuse a Christian message into the regime.
He later broke from it entirely, after seeing the reality of the deportation of Jewish people as per racial laws. He became part of the Italian Resistance movement in Milan.
He was apprehended on April 27, 1944, and taken to a prison where he was tortured and beaten before being moved to another prison. On July 11, his name was added to a list of 70 inmates to be shot, but he fled and hid in a field until he was recaptured.
He was then transferred to a concentration camp in northern Italy, before being moved to the Flossenburg and Hersbruck camps in Germany. While there, he shared food rations with inmates and treated their injuries.
He died from injuries he received after defending a Ukrainian inmate from being attacked. He was kicked in the stomach and intestines and struck 25 times.
Olivelli’s beatification process began in 1988. Originally sought as a martyrdom, this was rejected because of doubts, though he was found to have lived a life of heroic virtue and was named “Venerable” by Pope Francis in 2015.
Officials of the cause remained adamant that Olivelli was killed in hatred of his faith and therefore re-submitted a position — a collection of documents submitted for sainthood causes — in 2016, hoping it would lead to his beatification without the usual required miracle.
Based on new findings, it was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and now by Pope Francis, affirming that he was killed “in hatred of the faith,” paving the way for his beatification.
Another cause moving forward is that of Sister Maria degli Angeli, born Giuseppa Margherita Operte in Turin, Italy, in 1871.
Born into a wealthy family, she experienced loss at the young age of 14, when her father and brother died within three months of each other. Left alone with her mother, they entered more deeply into the Christian life, becoming Third Order lay Carmelites.
When Giuseppa heard that a priest in a neighboring parish was circulating the rumor that she would open an institute for poor young girls, she took it as a sign of her calling: In 1894, she opened the Institute of St. Joseph in a palace inherited from her parents.
She began a religious community of Third Order Carmelites who live an active apostolate, according to the spirituality of the great reformers of Carmel — since 1970 called the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa of Turin — with two branches, one contemplative and one active.
She died in the monastery of Cascine Vica on Oct. 7, 1949, having lived an active life centered on contemplation.
The other persons declared “Venerable” are: Bishop Antonio Jose de Souza Barroso of Porto (1854-1918); Bishop Jose de Jesus López y González of Aguascalientes, founder of the Congregation of the Maestro Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1872-1950); Franciscan Bishop Agostino Ernesto Castrillo of San Marco and Bisignano, (1904-1955); Capuchin Father Giacomo da Balduina (1900-1948); and Sister Umiltà Patlán Sánchez of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1895-1970).