Lucci, Antonio Nicola, Bl.

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Baptized Angelo Nicola; Conventual Franciscan, bishop; b. Aug. 2, 1682, Agnone, Isernia (near Naples), Italy; d. July 25, 1752, Bovino, Italy.

Angelo was the fifth of the seven children of Francesco Lucci and Angela Paolantonio. The family owned two vineyards and a copper firm, but Francesco worked as a cobbler. Francesco's unexpected death in 1604 led to some financial difficulties, but he had provided for Angelo's education under the Conventual Friars Minor at Agnone until the age of 15. Despite his mother's objections, Angelo entered the order at Isernia in 1697, professed his vows in 1698, and took the name Antonio. He continued his studies at Venafro, Alvito, Aversa, Agnone, and Assisi, and was ordained a priest in 1705.

After receiving his doctorate in theology in 1709, he was assigned to San Lorenzo (Naples), where he taught and ministered. The profundity of his theological insight gained him several positions, including provincial superior of Sant'Angelo (1718), rector of San Bonaventura, Rome (171929), theological advisor for two Roman synods, consultor to the Holy See (1725), and spiritual director to Princess Maria Clementina Sobieski. He was consecrated bishop of Bovino Feb. 7, 1729, by Pope Benedict XIII.

Even after his episcopal consecration, Lucci continued to conduct his life according to the Franciscan Rule in poverty, humility, and charity. He emptied his treasury to provide for the poor and was known to give away the clothes off his back. As bishop, he was known for his pastoral zeal, even to teaching children's catechism classes to prepare them for the sacraments. In addition to reforming the clergy and religious and building schools, Bishop Lucci defended the rights of the poor and the vulnerable in response to the problems of the era. He died in the odor of sanctity after 23 years as bishop and was buried in his cathedral at Bovino.

Lucci's cause was initiated shortly after his death: informative process (175860), official introduction (1764), apostolic process (176970), and publication of the positios (1793 and 1835). Pope Pius IX declared Lucci venerable in 1847. His cause was reopened recently when a number of miracles were attributed to his intercession. After one was approved June 18, 1989, Lucci was beatified by Pope John Paul II June 18, 1989.

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1989): 764.

[k. i. rabenstein]