Piamarta, Giovanni Battista, Bl.

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Diocesan priest, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Humble Servants of the Lord; b. Nov. 26, 1841, Brescia, Italy; d. April 25, 1913, Remedello, Italy.

Born into a poor but pious family headed by a barber and a seamstress, Piamarta received his education in local schools until he entered the seminary in 1860. Following ordination (1865) his ministry, first in rural parishes (Carzago Riviera and Bedizzole), then in Brescia, focused on working-class young people and their families.

With Msgr. Petro Capretti he founded (1886) the Istituto Artigianelli to provide working-class children with the moral foundation and professional skills needed in the newly industrialized society. He built housing and workshops for 100 boys, whom he served as a father and spiritual director.

With Fr. Bonsignori he established (1895) an agricultural research center on 140 hectares at Remedello to enhance the farming skills of peasants. Remedello gained an international reputation, and its structure was copied in many countries.

In 1902, he founded the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth to perpetuate his work. A women's community, the Humble Servants of the Lord, was established, with the help of his mother and Elisa Baldo Foresti, to strengthen rural and urban families in the region through education. Piamarta gave precedence to the material and spiritual needs of others, while finding his own consolation in prayer.

He died peacefully surrounded by his brothers and Fr. Bonsignori. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 12, 1997 and is a patron of families and workers.

Feast: June 26.

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 20 (1997): 999. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 42 (1997): 12. Lettere di P. Giovanni Piamarta e dei suoi corrispondenti, ed. by a. fappani (Brescia 1994). Giovanni Piamarta e il suo tempo: atti del colloquio di studio: Brescia, 12 settembre 1987 (Brescia 1987).

[k. i. rabenstein]