Orione, Luigi, Bl.

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Founder of the Congregation of the Piccola Opera della Divina Providenza (Little Work of Divine Providence); b. June 23, 1872, Pontecurone (Alessandria), Italy; d. March 12, 1940, San Remo (Imperia), Italy. Orione joined the Franciscans at Voghera at an early age but left because of poor health. St. John bosco accepted him into the Salesian Oratory in Turin (1886). In 1890 Orione entered the seminary in Tortona in his native diocese and began what was to be his main work in life by caring for poor boys.

After ordination (April 13, 1895) he opened a lodging house for needy seminarians. As the work expanded he accepted orphans and elderly and needy persons. His Little Work of Divine Providence, a network of laity and religious dedicated to charitable works and prayer, was modeled on the foundation of St. Giuseppe cottolengo. To attain the goals of the Piccola Opera, Don Orione founded a number of religious congregations: the sons of divine providence; the little missionary sisters of charity; the Hermits of Divine Providence; the Brothers of Divine Providence, who wear lay dress, but follow a common rule of life; and the blind Sacramentine Sisters, who dedicate themselves to prayer. By 2000 Orione's disciples in these related institutes had spread to 30 countries and were found on five continents. One hundred sixteen volumes of his writings, as well as voice recordings, are preserved in the Archives of the Piccola Opera della Divina Providenza in Rome.

Worn out from his labors, he died. His remains repose in Tortona. The Decretum super scripta in his beatification cause was issued in 1956. Pope John Paul II declared Orione blessed on Oct. 26, 1980, presenting him to the Church as a "marvelous and genial expression of Christian charity." The pope described him as "having the character and heart of the Apostle Paul, tender and sensitive, indefatigable and courageous, tenacious, and dynamic."

Feast: March 12.

Bibliography: A Priceless Treasure Don Orione. Letters & Writings, 2 v. (London 1995). Acta Apostolicae Sedis 72 (1981): 477480. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 44 (1980). g. barra, Don Orione (Turin 1970). e. a. cuono, Don Orione (Victoria, Argentina 1967). Don Orione. L'apostolo tortonese a 100 anni dalla nascita (Turin 1972). a. gemma, Don Orione: un cuore senza confini (Gorle, Italy 1989); I fioretti di Don Orione (Rome 1994). a. gemma, ed., La scelta dei poveri più poveri: scritti spirituali (Rome 1979). The Restless Apostle. From the Writings of Don Orione (London 1981). d. a. hyde, God's Bandit, The Story of Don Orione, "Father of the Poor" (Westminster, MD 1957). g. papÀsogli, Vita di don Orione, fourth ed. (Turin 1994). g. piccinini, Luce dai colli (Boston 1958).

[t. f. casey]