Farina, Giovanni Antonio, Bl.

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Bishop of Vicenza and founder of the Institute of the Sisters Teachers of St. Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart; b. Gambellara, Vicenza, Italy, Jan.11, 1803; d. Vicenza, March 4, 1888.

Giovanni Antonio was the son of Pietro Farina and Francisca Bellame who entrusted his growth in the faith and education to his uncle, a priest. Farina entered the diocescan seminary at age 15. In 1827 he earned his teaching certificate and was ordained priest. Early in his career he taught in the diocesan seminary for 18 years, ministered in St. Peter's Parish for ten years, and directed the public schools. He founded the first school for the education of girls (1831) and the teaching Sisters of St. Dorothy (1836), who were dedicated to teaching them. The mission of the sisters was later expanded to include the education of the deaf and the blind, and care of the sick elderly. The Rule he wrote for the sisters, approved by Gregory XVI in 1839, remained in effect until 1905.

On January 19, 1851 Fr. Farina was consecrated bishop of Treviso and took as his motto: "True science consists of the education of the heart, the fear of God." During his tenyear episcopacy he made regular pastoral visits, initiated associations in each parish for the care of the needy, propagated the practice of spiritual exercises, and himself participated in the formation of priests and laity. He himself ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the sick, often taking his priests with him.

On June 18, 1860, he was transferred to the Diocese of Vicenza, where he initiated a renewal of the local Church that included the convocation of the first diocesan synod since 1689. In his efforts to shepherd his flock, he visited villages so remote that they were accessible only by foot or mule. His care for the poor is evidenced by the numerous confraternities he founded. Also notable are his participation in Vatican Council I, his conferral of ordination (1890) on Giuseppe Sarto (the future Pius X), and the patience with which he endured unjust accusations.

The bishop fell gravely ill in 1886 and never fully recovered prior to his death from a stroke. Farina was declared venerable on April 23, 2001. On July 7, 2001, Pope John Paul II approved the miracle necessary for beatification, which occurred on Nov. 4, 2001.

Bibliography: a. i. bassani, ed., Il Vescovo Giovanni Antonio Farina e il suo Istituto nell'Ottocento veneto (Rome 1988). g.a. cisotto, ed., La visita pastorale di Giovanni Antonio Farina nella Diocesi di Vicenza (Rome 1977).

[k. i. rabenstein]