Tezza, Luigi, Bl.

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Camillus priest, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus ; b. Nov. 1, 1841, Coneglione Veneto (Treviso), Italy; d. Sept. 26, 1923, Lima, Peru. Early in life Luigi's faith was nourished by that of his mother, Caterina Nedwiedt (d. 1880), who joined the Visitation nuns at Padua in 1858. His father, a doctor who worked untiringly until his death at age 36 (1850), gave direction to young Luigi's desire to serve God in his neighbor. He joined the camillians on Oct. 29, 1856, at the novitiate in Verona. He was ordained priest May 21, 1864, and celebrated his first Mass at his mother's convent two days later.

He was assigned to the house at San Giuliano during the Battle of Custoza (June 1886) and when the Piedmontese troops entered the town on October 22. In 1886, the religious orders were suppressed. Tezza and two of his confreres accepted an invitation to join Bl. Daniele Comboni's African mission; however, permission was not granted.

He was appointed assistant master of novices in Rome (1869), then master of novices at Cuisery (France, 1870). In France he also served as superior and founder of four homes for the sick and aged until the religous orders were suppressed there (1880). He remained clandestinely for three months after the Camillians were expelled and was denounced several times, but managed to evade capture.

At the 1889 General Chapter, he was elected procurator general and retreated to the hospital at St. John Lateran, where he could serve the sick without molestation. Together with Bl. Giuditta (Giuseppina) vannini, whom he met on retreat (Dec. 17, 1891), Fr. Tezza founded a convent of young women dedicated to the service of the sick on Feb. 2, 1892.

In 1898, he returned to France and two years later he was sent to Lima as a visitator to settle a dispute that arose among the brothers there. The matter was settled within two months; however, the archbishop and apostolic vicar ordered him to remain in Lima until more brothers arrived. Obediently he remained there for another 23 yearsuntil his deathworking in the hospitals, serving as confessor to the archbishop, apostolic nuncio, priests, seminarians, and monks.

In 1948, his corpse was transferred to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where it rested in the chapel of the provincial house of the Daughters of St. Camillus until it was translated to the motherhouse chapel in Grottaferrata, Italy (December 1999). He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 4, 2001.

Feast: Sept. 26.

Bibliography: l. miglioli, Und er sagte ja: P. Luigi Tezza, Gründer der Töchter des Heiligen Kamillus (Leutesdorf 1981). I primi cinque capitoli generali dei Ministri degli infermi, ed. p. sannazzaro (Rome 1979).

[k. i. rabenstein]