Bertoni, Gaspare (Caspar) Luigi Dionigi, St.
BERTONI, GASPARE (CASPAR) LUIGI DIONIGI, ST.
Diocesan priest of Verona, founder of the Congregation of the Priests of the Holy Stigmata of Our Lord; b. Verona, Venetia, Italy, Oct. 9, 1777; d. Verona, June 12, 1853. The son of a prosperous lawyer, Francesco Bertoni, and his wife Brunora Ravelli, Gaspare was educated at home with his sister, who died in childhood. Later he attended St. Sebastian's, where he became acquainted with the then suppressed Jesuits. The first of his many mystical experiences occurred on the day of his first communion, when he also discerned his vocation. He entered the seminary (1795), joined the Gospel Fraternity for Hospitals during the French occupation to care for war victims, and was ordained in 1800. His early years in the priesthood were divided between teaching in the seminary and working as a parish priest.
Aware of the need to salvage youth from the moral breakdown of society, he began to devote his energies to education. Gradually other priests joined him, and on Nov. 4, 1816, the group adopted a rule of life under the leadership of Bertoni. This was the foundation of the Stigmatine Congregation, which took its name from their residence, Le Stimate, formerly owned by a pious confraternity but given to Bertoni for his work.
In addition to founding the Stigmatines, Bertoni acted as spiritual director to the Daughters of Charity of Canossa, established Marian oratories, and promoted devotion to the Espousal of Mary and Joseph and to the Five Wounds of Christ. From 1812, following an ecstasy, he endured physical troubles that entailed numerous operations prior to his death. His grave is in the Stigmatine church at Verona. He was beatified Nov. 1, 1975 by Pope Paul VI and canonized by Pope John Paul II, Nov. 1,1989.
Feast: June 12.
Bibliography: Epistolario del Venerabile servo di Dio Don Gaspare Bertoni, g. stofella (Verona 1954); "Memoriale privato" in Collectanea Stigmatina 4, ed. g. stofella (Rome 1962). Acta Apostolicae Sedis 68 (1976): 486–489. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 45 (1975): 1–4; no. 45 (1989): 1–2. Symposium Bertonianum, proceedings of Oct. 28, 1989 (Verona 1990). i. bonetti, La grammatica di Don Gaspare: meditazioni quotidiane dagli scritti di San Gaspare Bertoni (Bologna 1993). g. ceresatto, Il volto e l'anima del venerabile Gaspare Bertoni (Verona 1951). g. fiorio, Lo spirito del venerabile servo di Dio Don Gaspare Bertoni (Verona 1914); Vita del venerabile servo di Dio Don Gaspare Bertoni (Verona 1922). g. giacobbe, Vita del Servo di Dio Don Gaspare Bertoni (Verona 1858). l. malamocco, Quando senti il grillo cantare (Udine 1996). g. mattei, Il venerabile Gaspare Bertoni (Verona 1924). l. muzii, Voglia di santità (Rome 1989). e. radius, Gaspare Bertoni (Verona 1975). n. dalle vedove, Il venerabile Don Bertoni, 2 v. (Rome 1962); La giovinezza del venerabile Gaspare Bertoni e l'ambiente veronese dell'ultimo '700 (Rome 1971); San Gaspare Bertoni, Fondatore degli Stimmatini (Verona 1989); Un modello di santo abbandono (Verona 1951); Vita e pensiero del beato Gaspare Bertoni agli albori dell '800 veronese (Rome 1975). l. zaupa, Gaspare Bertoni: un santo per il nostro tempo (Verona 1994).
[j. e. mullen/eds.]