Last year, I started doing research on saintly parents. I wanted to be inspired and find holy men and women, resolute moms, and dads, who were able to raise a family and live their faith fully. I was surprised at how many examples we have in our Catholic faith to inspire those of us who try to live the faith in our families. I want to share some of these inspiring stories with you all, in a series of posts I will call “Saintly Parents.”
Does parenthood make you a saint? (Those of us living this right now may have different answers ?) Can your saintly life inspire your children to live holy lives as well? Venerable Vittorio Trancanelli is one example that proves that, yes, this is possible.
A Saintly Couple: Venerable Vittorio Trancanelli and Rosalia Sabatini
Vittorio Trancanelli was born in 1944 in Perugia, Italy. He grew up in a Catholic home and decided at an early age to become a doctor. He studied tirelessly and began his medical career at a hospital in the small town of Perugia.
In 1965, he married Rosalia Sabatini. They had a wonderful marriage of 33 years. Throughout his life, Vittorio suffered from a rare disease called peritonitis, which was very painful. Despite his illness, he still worked diligently as a doctor in Perugia, helping all of those who needed him. His deep faith in God was a crucial factor in his medical career. One of his favorite tasks was working with his patients who had disabilities. Inf fact he even welcomed them into his home. He was nicknamed, “The Saint of the Operating Room”.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Vittorio’s life was his openness to life and family. As a couple, the Trancanelli’s adopted 7 children, including some with disabilities. Seven children alone would keep them busy enough, but that didn’t stop Vittorio and his wife Lia, from also welcoming women and children who were in great need into their home. He often repeated, “It is true that welcoming is not always easy, sometimes it is tiring, but the Lord tells us:” ‘If I, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, then you too must wash each other’s feet…” This humility and generosity was a defining characteristic of Vittorio’s life.
As mentioned earlier, because of his illness, pain and suffering were not strangers to his life. Not only did his disease cause him great physical pain, they also had to bury their own children because of illnesses. He was known to be especially sensitive to the suffering of other people, especially children.
In 1998 his disease finally took him home to God. He died leaving behind a legacy of good works and a holy life as a doctor, father, and husband. On his death bed, he said to his family, “Even if I had become famous, or if I were rich with many houses, what would it matter now? What am I bringing before God? I carry the love that we have given to everyone in my life.” Pope Francis declared him as venerable after confirming his heroic virtue in 2017. There are three main lessons that I have taken from his life story:
1) Pain and suffering can never be an excuse to stop caring about other people. Putting other people first is difficult when you are dealing with your own pain. As a parent (and doctor) Vittorio did this heroically.
2) Magnanimity and generosity of heart is a virtue the world needs to see in parents. It is such a rare and selfless virtue, but it is so needed in the world today. As a parent, we can choose to be that example of generosity to our children. A generous heart does not limit who or how it loves. Christmas and Advent are wonderful times to stretch our heart muscles and be more generous.
3) Being a true Christian means opening your home and heart to those in need. Vittorio lived by this motto until his final day. Admittedly, welcoming others was hard for him, but important if he wanted to be true to his vocation as a Christian. For us, we may not be bringing people in off the street to our table. It simply means inviting a neighbor, fellow parishioner, or even a relative over for a meal.
May the example of Venerable Vittorio Trancanelli inspire us to be the holy people God is calling us all to be!
Prayer For Openness
Lord, give me the grace to be open and loving to those you place in my path, especially children in need. Help me to create a home where my children always feel loved and accepted, and where my spouse and I help each other live holy lives pleasing to God.