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8/8 St. Hannibal Maria di Francia


St. Hannibal Maria di Francia

“Little Son of the Divine Will”

5/30/2016 Posted By

The Saints meet on the streets of Providence.

The meeting of St. Hnnibal Maria Di Francia (1851-1927 Messina) with Luisa Piccarreta was caused by his presence in the diocese and city of Trani for the opening of the religious house of nuns of the Daughters of Divine Zeal in April 1910. From then until May 25 1927, a few days before the death of the saint from Messina, a deep spiritual relationship and a regular correspondence developed between them.

Luisa’s revelations about the Divine Will and her writings on the Divine Volition attracted St. Hnnibal so much so that he felt he had become a nothing before the great Mercy of the Lord, and the great deposit of the Revelations about the Divine Will, and they became constantly the object of his meditation. Especially in the last months of his life, when pleurisy had no way out, he felt a strong closeness to Luisa and a participatory analogy to her sufferings: “I suffer anguishing nights and you who were with Jesus the nights, remember me who spend them in agony”. Luisa offered to share St. Hannibal’s his nocturnal sorrows as well as confided in him great things regarding her spiritual life.

Besides being the extraordinary confessor of Luisa, in 1926 St. Annibale was designated by Archbishop Mgr. Giuseppe M. Leo as the Ecclesiastical Reviser for the publications of his three Dioceses Trani, Barletta and Bisceglie and jurisdiction over Luisa, “as far as your writings and their publication – that is, to handle you and to dispose the publication as I believe is right (his words)”.This responsibility kept him real busy, almost continuously to detach him from the founder commitments: “I want you to know that since I have totally dedicated myself to the great work of the Divine Will, I practically don’t concern myself at all with my institutes. I talk about it with spiritual people, I keep to this point with those who are able to listen and I promote it as much as I can, even in my institutes”.

Luisa’s trust in Saint Hnnibal was blind; she referred to him whether or not to print her manuscripts: “if you see that they are nonsense and that nothing good can do for souls please tear up and burn them”. She wrote that in reference to the delicate nature of the content, “things concerning many punishments, priests, so it is  a strong suffering for me to disclose them to others. I wrote them only for obedience and nothing else”.

And St. Hnnibal replied: “There are points which, though true and holy if looked at with the spirit and with holy simplicity, would yet clash with prudence to publish, and one would have to face the criticism of the Ecclesiastical Authority, which would cast a prejudice over the whole Work. There are a few chapters which must be left for when you are in Heaven”.

The Canon Saint from Messina had a great esteem for Luisa. In the Preface to the Hours of the Passion, he calls “sublime” the revelations which, always excepting the judgments of the Holy Church, we piously believe to have been given by Our Lord Jesus Christ to a soul, a dearest daughter and disciple of His, a privileged woman, at a mystical level, who wants to live solitary, hidden and unknown.

A most pure virgin, wholly of God, the littlest one that He found on earth with no education, endowed with an extraordinary familiarity with Jesus, the right person for a mission so sublime that no other can be compared to it – that is, the triumph of the Divine Will upon the whole earth, in conformity with what is said in the ‘Our Father’: Fiat Voluntas Tua sicut in Coelo et in terra. She is the spouse of Jesus Crucified, who spends the night in painful ecstasies and in sufferings of every kind, during the day, sitting on her bed doing her needlework – nothing appears. On the contrary, she appears as a healthy person, happy and jovial. She speaks, converses, laughs when appropriate, but receives few friends. She listens kindly and comforts, but never advances to make prophecies, never a word which might hint at revelations. The great comfort which she presents is always one, always the same: the Divine Will. Although she possesses no human knowledge, she is abundantly endowed with a Wisdom all celestial – with the Science of the Saints. Her words illuminate and console. In short she is the Firstborn Daughter of the Divine Will.

Luisa was deeply impressed by the wisdom, prudence and holiness of Di Francia that she called Father with an immense offspring for many poor and destitute orphans gathered and she assured him that Jesus will repay the many sacrifices an hundredfold, He will reward your generosity so much. She finally revealed prophetically: the Lord will reward you greatly  for the work of the 24 hours, and it is one of the most beautiful gems that will shine above your head.

It was St. Hannibal who asked Luisa to write the 24 Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ between 1913-14. Considering it a golden book for the current times, he arranged to give it the title and to cure four editions that went systematically snapped up in several thousand copies. The same fate happened to Childhood Memories: your lady which is Holy Obedience want you to write everything you remember of your childhood, infancy and youth as far as the blessed intimate relation with the Divine Lover, adding the beginning of illness which confines you to bed …. .The book began to be printed in Oria on July 1926.

The hardest work started by St. Hannibal was undoubtedly the correction and printing of the volumes on the Divine Will. His idea was to publish the work in Messina where he had the chance to keep everything under control especially as regards the proofreading. But as in Messina  they have many works, he transferred the work in Oria in his Anthonian typography, where there were “young typographers who, quickly and with great love, have appreciated very much the privilege conceded to them by Our Lord to publish these writings”. The typography was duly authorized to purchase a good assortment of typographical characters from the factories. Oh! if I were in the vigor of my strengths and of my mind, how I would wish to fly to Oria to dedicate myself to this divine enterprise! .

At the beginning of 1927 several sheets were in the course of being printed. The difficulties to make the work advance promptly were determined by the many things to read and correct, by the precarious state of his health and the diabolical struggles that he suffered: the infernal spirits would want to bewilder this  great Work,  F. Hannibal confessed to Luisa, “I won’t tell you how I feel the demon rage—or rather, many demons; this is why I often make exorcisms against Satan in the Name of Jesus”.

I tell you in the highest secrecy, that in order to destroy me the devil took the form of a person we know in order to bring me shocking news, because of which I was taken by a palpitation that was about to kill me – but then I discovered the deception. All this because it was a publication because of which Hell trembles so much…

The commitment by Saint Hannibal for the publication of Luisa’s writings was sacrosanct so much so that he said that if he should pass away, his priests would continue the work of the publication, because “we are already a Religious Order approved by the Holy Church, and therefore we can give greater guarantee than a simple individual”. His closest collaborator P. Pantaleone Palma who had realized the extent and the exceptional nature of such an undertaking, had not all the material time, having been confined to the Holy Stairs, where he died on September 2, 1935.

The last year of Father Hannibal’s life is characterized by a copious correspondence with Luisa. Besides issues related to the revision of the writings and the press, correspondence shows the true situation of St. Hannibal health. “For myself, I let you know that I am not in good health. I feel my strength exhausting, and I spend some nights sleepless. I had to suspend, in the middle of it, the work of the correction of the proofs… at the mere thought of the great work of all these publications, I feel as though frightened by a mental impotence!” .

Luisa had made him hope for a healing especially in order to attend to the publication of the writings on the Divine Will. S. Hannibal was happy and conscious: it seems that the Lord wants it, both because He has placed all of the writings—that is, the great deposit of His Divine Revelations—in our power, and also because of the special enlightenment that the Lord has given me on how to regulate the publication, which you will see rather soon in the first booklet that is being printed in Oria; and also because of the great means and equipment that are necessary, as well as labor—and of all this, the Lord has given us, and gives us, a unique abundance.

Di Francia’s confidence continued to be great: ask Our Lord, with faith and love, at least to be able to perform my miraculous healing. I ask you this for the sake of the 19 Volumes which are locked in the Archive of and for those which are now in process…. In my mind there is the whole plan and carrying out of the grandiose Publication. But things did not work out that way. In Volume 22 (June 1, 1927) Luisa noted: I had received the unexpected news of the death of Reverend Father Di Francia. He was the only one left to me, to whom I could open my poor soul. How well he could understand me – it was to a saint that I would entrust myself, who had very much comprehended all the value of what Jesus had told me about the Divine Will. He had so much interest in it that, with insistence, he had taken all the writings with himself in order to publish them,,, I did not want it, and only because he was a saint I had to surrender

The zeal for the mystery of the Passion of Jesus and the exercise of the Divine Will strengthened St. Hannibal to the point of fiddling with a little work about the Divine Will, the possibility of setting up a Spiritual Universal Pious Union, called ‘Children of the Divine Will’. It will be instituted in a very simple way. There will be neither registers, nor regulations, nor reunions, nor payments, nor obligations of conscience. With the help of the Lord we will print thousands of Cards on which there will be the recitation of the little chaplet of the Divine Will, formed, in two parts… I will present this Pious Union, with ecclesiastical approval, to the Sacred Congregation for the Indulgences in Rome, and I hope it will be enriched with holy Indulgences. It will serve to spread the publications and the knowledge of the Revelations about the Divine Will throughout the world…, these Cards will be translated into many languages and spread in many nations.. It is not about houses of Sisters dedicated as Daughters of the Divine Will that should be formed in the world….but  all Religious Houses of men and women, and all lay categories, and any person in the entire world., can become son or daughter of the Divine Will, by simply accepting the Card…. There will not be registers for memberships, nor regulations, but men and women supporters to spread the Cards.

All his fervor, stubbornness and goodwill surrendered before the running disease:  I no longer review the proofs of the first printing, but my people do. And the Preface? Alas! I no longer have the mind to be able to dictate it! …Yet, if I am able to dictate it, the Preface will come out so simple and effective as to impress even the highest personalities of the Holy Church, including the Supreme Pontiff.

And in this he was truly prophetic.

The Saints not only meet on the streets of Providence, but they become the one for the other providential support in the development of mutual knowledge and dissemination of the respective charisma.

What St. Hannibal did over the last 17 years of his existence in favor of Luisa Piccarreta for the dissemination of the  great Work of the Divine Will, is now systematically repaid by Luisa herself through the singular phenomenon of amazing spread in all parts the world of her writings and spirituality of the Divine Will. They have become a catalyst that is helping enormously the Knowledge of the life and holiness of Hannibal Maria Di Francia, the apostle of prayer for vocations, father of orphans and the poor and … “Little Son of the Divine Will”.


di P. Angelo Sardone rcj

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