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from issue no. 09 - 2006


The communion of saints and prayer

by Lorenzo Cappelletti

Saint Riccardo Pampuri (1897-1930) is buried in the parish church of Trivolzio, his birthplace.
We print the story of Don Angelo Beretta, parish priest of this small town between Milan and Pavia, on how in these years, along with the miracles of Saint Riccardo, devotion to him has grown, and on how, in particular in the last ten years of his life, Don Giussani proposed him almost as the living image of what he had most at heart.
The parish church of the Saint Martyrs Cornelius and Cyprian in Trivolzio, where the body of Saint Riccardo Pampuri is preserved and venerated

The parish church of the Saint Martyrs Cornelius and Cyprian in Trivolzio, where the body of Saint Riccardo Pampuri is preserved and venerated

In February 1995 Don Giussani said: «We are living in such a state of universal degradation that nothing is left that can perceive Christianity except for the bare fact of created reality. So this is the time of the dawning of Christianity, the time in which Christianity arises, the time of Christianity’s resurrection. And Christianity’s resurrection has one single, great instrument. What? The miracle. This is the time of the miracle. The people must be told to invoke the Saints because that’s what saints are for. This is none other than the time of the miracle in our history. It is the age of the miracle...». Don Giussani – who also when he spoke about the Eucharist was fond of saying that it was the circumstances that suggested to the Lord the “idea” of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the most brilliant of all, – said those words also as a result of his encounter, as Don Beretta tells us, with Saint Riccardo Pampuri.
In the ten years that followed, as we’ve said, Don Giussani several times invited people to turn to Saint Riccardo (we will document it in a more systematic way in a forthcoming article) and continued to frequent him. Don Angelo Beretta also recalls that on his eightieth birthday (15 October 2002), Don Giussani expressed the desire of go to Trivolzio to say mass, but that various circumstances prevented him. «When by then he thought that he wouldn’t be able to come, on 22 January 2003 he arrived in Trivolzio. It was a very cold day. He said mass standing and refusing the wheelchair they offered him. He gave communion to those present and prayed with them for the sick and for all the various needs. Afterwards we spoke a little also of the restoration of the house for the reception center that we still hadn’t managed to begin. At the door of the church he spoke with some people who were coming to visit Saint Riccardo». Don Giussani’s last public words, for the intention of the mass of 11 February 2005, the anniversary of the pontifical recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a few days before his death on 22 February 2005, were also an invitation to the sweet memory of Jesus working in the saints: «Let us often remember Jesus Christ, because Christianity is the proclamation that God has been made man and only by living our relations with Christ as much as possible do we “risk” doing as he did».
To those who are more at ease with theoretical rather than narrative terms, it can be made clear that what stands out in this matter is the dogmatic truth of the communion of saints that the Apostles’ Creed sets among the effects of the Holy Spirit and with which Pope Paul VI finishes the Creed of the People of God, in not casual agreement with the sensibility of Don Giussani: “We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are attaining their purification, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion the merciful love of God and His saints is ever listening to our prayers, as Jesus told us: Ask and you will receive”».

A photo of the saint as a young doctor

A photo of the saint as a young doctor

Erminio Filippo Pampuri, later Brother Riccardo, was born on 2 August 1897 in Trivolzio (Pavia). The tenth of eleven children, he became motherless when only three, and was taken in by his maternal aunt and uncle, in Torrino, a district of Trivolzio. He was baptized in the local parish church, where he received the Sacrament of Confirmation and First Communion. He did middle and high school at the diocesan college of Saint Augustine in Pavia, he then enrolled at the University of Pavia where, on 6 July 1921, he graduated with top marks in the faculty of Medicine, after doing military service in the First World War and having won the bronze medal for rescuing medical equipment. From 1921 to 1927 he was local doctor in Morimondo, devoting himself with great love to his patients (he was known as “Doctor Charity”) and working with the parish priest in the various activities of the parish. In July 1927 he entered the Hospital Order of Fatebenefratelli, taking the name of Brother Riccardo. He died in Milan on 1 May 1930. The funeral took place in Trivolzio, and he was buried in its cemetery. On 16 May 1951 his body was removed to the local parish church, where it is still kept, visible and venerated.
John Paul II beatified him on 4 October 1981 and he was proclaimed saint on 1 November 1989.
The feastday of Saint Riccardo Pampuri is celebrated on 1 May (the anniversary of his death). He is also remembered on 16 May (the date of the tranference of his body).

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