Louis of Casoria, ven.

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Religious founder; b. Casoria (Napoli), Italy, March 11, 1814; d. Posillipo, near Naples, March 30, 1885. After joining the Franciscans (Alcantarines) in 1832, Arcangelo Palmentieri took the name Louis. As a priest he taught physics, mathematics, and philosophy until 1837 when the scope of his apostolic labors broadened. In the following years he established an association for clerical and lay intellectuals to promote a Catholic cultural revival and started the periodical Carità. He also opened a hospital for priests, an institute to house street urchins and another in Assisi for blind, deaf, and mute children, a home for elderly fishermen in Posillipo, and many other centers for charitable assistance and Catholic activities throughout the peninsula.

In Florence, he fostered the building of the first church in Italy dedicated to the Sacred Heart. From 1858 he became much interested in missions and went to Egypt for a time. Pius IX and Leo XIII, who both esteemed him highly, entrusted him with diplomatic tasks. To carry on his apostolate, he founded the Brothers of Charity at Naples in 1859; they were called Frati Bigi because of their gray attire. Originally the members were laymen without vows, but later the founder admitted priests as well as laymen to help educate poor children. The congregation, approved in 1896 by the Holy See, had 63 members in 1963. Louis of Casoria also founded the Gray Sisters of St. Elizabeth (1862). The decree introducing his beatification cause was issued in 1907.

Bibliography: a. capecelatro, Vita del ven. p. L. da Casoria (Naples 1887). l. le monnier, Vie du père L. de Casoria (Paris 1892). l. fabiani, Vita del ven. p. L. da Casoria (Naples 1931).

[f. g. sottocornola]