Blessed Francis Faa di Bruno, St. Rupert, St. John of Egypt
Blessed Francis Faa di Bruno
Francis, the last of 12 children, was born in
northern Italy into an aristocratic family. He lived at a particularly turbulent time in history,
when anti-Catholic and anti-papal sentiments were especially strong.
After being trained as a military officer, Francis was spotted by King Victor
Emmanuel II, who was impressed with the young man's character and learning. Invited by the king to
tutor his two young sons, Francis agreed and prepared himself with additional studies. But with the
role of the Church in education being a sticking point for many, the king was forced to withdraw his
offer to the openly Catholic Francis and, instead, find a tutor more suitable to the secular
Francis soon left army life behind and pursued doctoral studies in Paris in mathematics and
astronomy; he also showed a special interest in religion and asceticism. Despite his commitment to
the scholarly life, Francis put much of his energy into charitable activities. He founded the
Society of St. Zita for maids and domestic servants, later expanding it to include unmarried
mothers, among others. He helped establish hostels for the elderly and poor. He even oversaw the
construction of a church in Turin that was dedicated to the memory of Italian soldiers who had lost
their lives in the struggle over the unification of Italy.
Wishing to broaden and deepen his commitment to the poor,
Francis, then well into adulthood, studied for the priesthood. But first he had to obtain the
support of Pope Pius IX to counteract the opposition to his own archbishop's difficulty with late
vocations. Francis was ordained at the age of 51.
As a priest, he continued his good works, sharing his
inheritance as well as his energy. He established yet another hostel, this time for prostitutes. He
died in Turin on March 27, 1888, and was beatified 100 years later.
Other Saints of the day: