Italian Surgeon and Father, Persecuted Priest Among New Canonization Causes
Pope Francis recognized on Monday the heroic virtue of eight holy people.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recognized on Monday the heroic virtue of eight persons on the path to canonization, including an Italian surgeon and father of eight who suffered from several painful diseases throughout his life.
The Pope met Feb. 27 with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, giving his approval for the causes to move forward.
Among them is Italian Victor Trancanelli. Born in 1944, he became a talented surgeon before marrying his wife, Lia. Together they had one natural son and adopted seven more children over the course of their marriage.
One month before the birth of their son, Diego, Victor developed ulcerative colitis and widespread peritonitis, which created the need for a permanent ileostomy, a surgical procedure to help with his condition. Only his wife and a few medical colleagues were aware of the ileostomy, which he bore with patience and without complaining.
Always thinking of the sick, after a year, he was healthy enough to return to his work as a surgeon.
In the 1980s, he fell in love with holy Scripture and with the Jewish roots of the faith, working at the St. Martin Ecumenical Center. During that time, Victor, his wife and a few friends started the association Alle Querce di Mamre, to help women and children in difficult situations, which is still running.
After another serious illness, he died June 24, 1998, at the age of 54. It is said that shortly before his death he gathered his wife and children around him, and said: “For this it is worth living.”
“Even if I had become, who knows who, if I had money in the bank, owned many houses, what would I bring with me now? What have I brought before God? Now I bring the love that we have given.”
Another cause moving forward is that of Father Titus Zeman, a priest of the Salesian order who was born in 1915 in Bratislava, Slovakia. He moved to Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian University for a period before being ordained in 1940.
He returned to his home country, but in 1950, the communist regime in then-Czechoslovakia prohibited religious orders, deporting religious men and women to concentration camps. Father Zeman organized for young men in the Salesians to travel secretly to Turin, Italy, to complete their studies for the priesthood.
He was eventually captured and endured a severe trial, where they called him a traitor and a spy of the Vatican. Narrowly missing the death penalty, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released in 1964 after 12 years, enduring torture and other deprivation.
Severely weakened by the treatment during his imprisonment, he died only five years later, on Jan. 8, 1969. He is considered to have died a martyr for the faith.
Father Zeman is known to have said: “Even if I lost my life, I would not consider it wasted, knowing that at least one of those that I helped has become a priest in my place.”
Following an increasing number of canonizations of laypeople in the last few years, another layperson whose cause has moved forward is Pietro Herrero Rubio, who lived 1904-1978.
The other causes are of Bishop Ottavio Ortiz Arrieta of Chachapoyas (1878-1958); Jesuit priest Antonio Repiso Martínez de Orbe, founder of the Congregation of Sisters of the Divine Pastor (1856-1929); Antonio Provolo, a diocesan priest and founder of both the Society and the Congregation of Mary for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (1801-1842); Maria of Mercy Cabezas Terrero, foundress of the Religious Institute of the Missionary Workers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1911-1993); and Sister Lucia of the Immaculate (Maria Ripamonti), a member of the Congregation of the Handmaids of Charity (1909-1954).