The month of Mary: A Marian Month
Saint of the day:
Saint Nunzio Sulprizio
Patron Saint of the disabled, blacksmiths workers, and Pescosansonesco
Saint Nunzio Sulprizio
On October 14, 2018, Pope Francis canonized seven new saints of the Church. One of them was the Italian teenager, Nunzio Sulprizio, who lived an uneventful and painful life and died less than a month after his nineteenth birthday. Nunzio's life is a testament to the simple witness of holiness, and his canonization celebrates this quiet and earnest witness.
Nunzio was born in Eastern Italy on April 13, 1817. His father died when he was only three years old, and his mother died three years later, leaving Nunzio an orphan by age six.
Because his stepfather had great contempt for him, Nunzio went to live with his mother's grandparents, who raised him to be a staunch Catholic and began to attend Mass with him regularly. From his beloved grandparents, Nunzio developed a devotion to the sacraments and nourished his spiritual life. Unfortunately for Nunzio, yet another one of his caregivers died: his grandmother passed away just before Nunzio's ninth birthday. After his grandmother's death, Nunzio was passed onto yet another relation—he was sent to live with his uncle, his mother's brother, who trained him as a blacksmith.
Whether through cruelty or misguided parental instinct, Nunzio's uncle believed the sweet-tempered young boy needed to develop discipline and a tougher skin. As punishments for perceived slights or laziness, he often beat Nunzio and deprived him of food. Nunzio functioned as a live-in errand boy for his uncle. On one such errand, when he was thirteen, he developed an infection in his leg. Nunzio was hospitalized for gangrene in his leg and spent his summer in the hospital. Despite his constant pain, he offered up his suffering silently and patiently.
In the hospital, he met his uncle's brother, Francesco Sulprizio, who introduced him to one of his colleagues in the Italian army, a colonel who took Nunzio under his wing, providing for his medical care and offering Nunzio the parental comfort and guidance he had lacked for so long.
In 1835, Nunzio's leg was amputated, in an attempt to stall the spread of his infection. Despite the amputation, his health deteriorated slowly but surely. In May of 1836, Nunzio peacefully died in the hospital, after receiving the sacraments for one last time.
Nunzio's journey to sainthood began quickly after his death but proceeded very slowly. Pope Pius IX declared him a Servant of God in 1859. Pope Leo XIII, a pope deeply concerned about workers and the Church at the turn of the twentieth century, proposed Nunzio as a patron for workers and declared him a Venerable in 1891. In the midst of Vatican II, Nunzio's cause for beatification was approved by Pope John XXIII before his death, and Nunzio was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1963. Finally, Nunzio was canonized on the 14th of October, 2018, as the bishops gathered in Rome for the 2018 Synod on Youth, pictured in the image to the right. How fitting that Nunzio, an unremarkable young teenager, was lifted up before youth from all over the world as a model of holiness, assuring them that, in the eyes of the God who keeps loving count of every sparrow, their lives, too, do matter.
St. Nunzio Sulprizio, patient and humble witness to ordinary holiness—pray for us!
Chiesa di San Domenico Soriano
P.za Dante, 82, 80135 Napoli NA, Italy