Life of Alberto Marvelli
Alberto Marvelli was born on the 21st of March 1918 to Mary Mayr and Alfredo Marvelli. They were exemplary Christians.Mary Mayr was a wise woman, charitable and enlightened. When she was left a widow with her last born baby, only a few months old even if she faced economically reduced circumstances, she bought up her six children in a house that was always opened to the poor.
She taught her children to forbear from what was unnecessary, to enable them to give it away to those who were in need of help. From a very early age he followed his mother’s example and proved to be very generous. Even after his dad’s death, Marvelli family’s charitable work never came to an end. In spite of his young age, he gave support to his family and behaved like a second father. He was also devoted himself to prayer and charity and also, He had consecrated himself to immaculate Mother.
He had his high school studies in Rimini. He took up studying with a great sense of earnestness and responsibility. During schooling he joined the Association of St. Vincent de Paul. He was so inspired by St. Vincent’s teaching as to produce words like these: “We must love our fellow creatures with the sweat of our forehead and the work of our arms….” and again “…. it is only because of your love that the poor will forgive you for the bread you give them….” and again “…. before teaching the poor how to save their soul we must enable them to live in such a way as to allow them to be aware of having one….” However, his services to the poor were beyond the limits within which St. Vincent Association was practiced their charity. His life program was to be with Jesus Christ, the Pope and the Church.
Alberto Marvelli wanted to attend the naval Academy in Livorno, but was not accepted for a form of astigmatism. He got enrollment in University of Bologna Faculity of Mechanical Engineering.
During his university studies he joined Catholic action and also a member in FUCI(Italian Catholic Congress University Federation). Catholic action was for him like a new home where he continued to be schooled in generosity, as well as to action and sanctity.
He wrote: “what a great deal of work is needed in this world which is so far from Christ; it is necessary for us to offer sacrifices; we must act to the utmost of our strength to have Christ known and loved. It is the call of duty we are urged by, and we obliged to realize it.” He always lived in an unceasing inner union with God; nevertheless, he was able to match his intense love for God with his utter love for fellow-creatures.
He undertook his university studies to realize the aim of “fulfilling his duty to give more & more glory to our Lord, by his behavior among university mates.” His keen desire of heart was sanctity and on account of that, he read and thought much on the lives of saints. He particularly wanted to imitate Pier Giorgio Frassati, the blessed man whom we came to know in the first of this book; His love for Jesus living in the Eucharist was fervent; his communions enraptured his soul as if in ecstasy and kept him united to Jesus for a long time. His only loves were Jesus, & Mary and often addressed them with great filial transport; “Jesus, Mary, help me & assist me forever.” On june 30, 1941, he graduated engineering with 90/100.
Alberto Marvelli was an energetic, positive minded and looking handsome whose colour was fair white. He was having good psyche either in mind and body. He loved Sports: tennis, volleyball, athletics, cycling, football, Swimming, and sailing. He too loved trekking. In August of 1935, he spent a month in the mountains in Ortisei, in Val Gardena.
From the contemplation of the mountain rises to the meditation of the absolute; the love of his heart touches the sublime heights of the desire for God and Heaven.
Weapon of friendship
In 1939, World War II commenced. He overcomes it by great sadness, said: “It is catastrophic moment of our social life….” Five months later, while the conflict was causing death and ruin throughout Europe, He complained: “eight months of war have elapsed…. many lives are being sacrificed, many young men are shedding their blood, and many pains are being renewed!” In a sort of prophetic intuition, he added: “national & International right must be founded on Christian basis. The Gospel and pontifical Encyclicals must be the life rule not only for single men, but for people, for nations, for governments, for the world. The only & deep cause of war is our scarce love for God and to men. The spirit of charity is lacking in the whole world and, because of that, we hate each other like enemies, instead of loving each other like brothers, as we all have been redeemed by Christ!”
Now, with all his heart, he prayed to Jesus: “Jesus, protect Italy, preserve it from utter ruin, and grant peace with Justice for all peoples, soon; so that war may disappear in the world forever.” These words are a sign of great Christian wisdom and of courageous independence of Judgment.
When he was called to arms he just wanted his weapons to be friendship in order “to be one with all others.” While the horrifying happenings of war were going on, forgetful of him “Self” was quite uneasy about the cherished fellow Creatures, especially those he felt to be his dearest brothers and sisters because they were poor and needy then, he started a restless activity that kept him busy day and night; spurring on the young men of the G.I.A.C. to share actively the sufferings of the people and to be effectively helpful to their fellow-citizens, in those terrifying moments.
Serve the world with love
“It is better to serve than to be served: Jesus Serves”
These are the words that Alberto kept in his pocket always.
He accomplished his work with strong decision, with clearness and transparency. He was given the responsibility to manage big sums of money to be shared among those who have received material damages. Who has fulfilled his task with great justice and equity? He wanted to comply with everyone’s request. The time he spent in his office. Sufficed no longer to settle matters, but he was successful in realizing, in a single subject matter, both his professional duty and his longing of charity. When he was back home he could not take his meals in peace owing to an uninterrupted queue both of the poor as well as to the clients who, in order to contact him, were obliged to come just during the meal time. In spite of that, he never expected them to come to his office or to his house, because he betook himself about to look for those who were needy.
Elena Balestra, a lady helped by Alberto said: “When we came to Rimini from Trieste, we found nothing more of our own. And for 18 days, we were compelled to have ourr night rest lying on the benches in the railway entrance hall. I was peace less and sad, also because my son was sick. It was Alberto who unexpectedly, came and met us; he was able to find lodging for us and to arrange everything in our new situation.
An Apostle of Charity
Cause of Tragic world war forced Alberto and his family to move to Vergiano, 7 kilometers from Rimini, because of the devastating air raids. After each bombing, however, at the risk of his own life, he returned to the city to help the wounded, dying and homeless.
He gave to the poor what he had collected or bought with his own earnings: food, clothing, mattresses and blankets. Then, on his bicycle, he would carry what he could and distribute it to the needy. Sometimes he returned home without his shoes or even without a bicycle, all because he had given them to the neediest he met that day.
During the German occupation, he was able to save many people from deportation to the concentration camps, courageously freeing them from the sealed carriages of the trains that were ready to leave the station of Santarcangelo.
Alberto’s sister Gede, said: “During the German occupation he used to go restlessly to and fro between Vergiano and Rimini to offer his services to those who had been wholly devoid of their own things. During the day he was so much taken with the charitable works that he was obliged to be back home late at night. But when at home, there were always men and women waiting for him to be aided; I remembers, he has never seen to be out of patience, nor to complain or a puff”
In 1943 marked English and American bombardments. It was very distressful event. It was a period of trial. The town of Rimini will be almost wholly razed to the ground and all the inhabitants were forced to flee his heart began to beat for all of them. He started a prayer to Virgin Mary for the distressed people.
There was no rest for him, because he kept on with long and eager works of moral and material assistance for the dispersed…. Riding his bicycle, he got to the places where men and women needed help. After any bombardment he was the first to rush to the places where he might have been helpful. he rushed on the smoking – wreckages of the town and worked hard to aid the wounded, to encourage the survivors, to assist the dying with Christian and brotherly love and self sacrifices, to take out of the wreckages the living who were buried under to place the household implements in safe.
Mrs. E.M. Cappelli one of his friends said: “…..He gave away all he had and could collect to the poor…. and went about looking for peasants and shopkeepers who had succeeded inlaying their good in safe and bought any kind of supplies that he gave to those who were in urgent need of help. Afterwards, with his bicycle loaded with provisions, he got to the places where there was to render help: in caverns, in shelter, in ceilings, or in poor wretched country – houses scattered in the countryside.
Whenever a needy person approaches him, he was ready to give his money even, and, in order to relieve brother’s pain. He never missed to hearten them with words like these “Our Lord may help us; let’s have our trust only in him and in the intercession of His Holy Mother.” His words were less and actions were more.
Sr. Diamante Cortesi a nun who was in his parish recollected; “during the time they were dispersed, often used to go to pay them a visit by his bicycle: loaded with provisions and clothes “Sr. Elena Giovagnoli a nun who was nearby: “Once I saw him coming, poorly dressed and wearing poor wooden shoes, with a small half-ruined cart drawn by a little foal.” He risked life for the poor.
A Good Samaritan
A woman whom he helped said: “We were tired, overwhelmed, out of spirits, and very sad. We felt to have been forlorn; no one of our acquaintances minded to help us. All at once, I did not know how, he happened to find us, he appeared on the threshold; he was the only person to render help to us, in the wretched room they were living in. Another day he came to see us, smiling, and with many provisions: flour, oil and many other things we were urgently much in need of.
He started talking with us, having kind and comprehensive words for us all” and again “one evening he came late in the place where we had taken shelter and we told him to spend the night with us; he accepted it willingly and slept in the one room had at our disposal. Before lying on the mattress we had laid down for him, he knelt down on the floor to pray, remaining wrapped in pious meditation…..
“Help each other, love each other. And meditate over good, Meditation brings you happiness”.
Light of Tabernacle
He was so busy, however, never caused him to be diverted from caring for his spiritual life and he never went to bed without reciting the Holy Rosary, lying down on his knees near the bed. “He was fully aware that Eucharist is “Sacrament of piety, sign of unity, and bond of charity”. So he never left out his daily Holy Communion.
One day after the war he saw a tabernacle containing Blessed Sacrament on the ground, and so, creeping flat on the ruined ground, He brought it. The risk was to take it to safe place pending and very serious, indeed; nevertheless his love for the Eucharist was so great that no obstacle might ever have prevented him from doing it!
He usually urges: “Holy Eucharist is our life. Let us be broken for the poor.”
Rebirth to Towns
His sister said: ” He often urged our mother to give away all that was in our house for those he knew to be in very great need: mattresses, coverlets and pots were freely offered to the poor: he gave everything away, because of the great misery of too many refugees he saw about and of being quite aware not to be owner of anything…he also gave away all the equipments of the clergy house, after asking for the bishop’s consent, as he was the manager of the house. He gave away his shoes, coats and woolen coverlet…. There was no limit for him in giving, because he couldn’t help aiding the suffering and the poor. Once our mother saw him to be back home wearing a pair of old and bad wooden shoes. However, though he got rid of his things to aid the others, he never left our mother and brothers to be wanting of what were necessary for them….”
After the liberation of Rimini on 23 September 1945, Alberto’s family returned to the city, now in ruins and without running water, electricity or sanitation. The government authorities immediately entrusted him with the allocation of housing. He proved to be an able administrator and a few months later became town councilor and a member of the Italian Society of Civil Engineers.
He also opened a soup kitchen and invited the poor to go to Mass and prayed with them, listening patiently to their troubles and worries, entrusting them all to God the Father. He did not belong to any party at first, but joined the Christian Democrats after the war and became an active member of the Executive Committee. He understood politics as an important service of faith and justice to society.
He was one of the most popular candidates of the Christian Democratic Party and was respected by all, even by my political adversaries, the Communists, whose ideology He openly criticized; they acknowledged his honesty and profound dedication to the well-being of the community.
A Restless man for God
In his visits to Rimini, He cared to have the refuges to be acquainted about the condition of their houses left in town, and with words of hope and love he assured care for them. Those he paid his attentions to, felt it to be their duty to report “how it was impossible for them not to be moved by the charm of his words full of inflaming faith” his generosity was joined to such spontaneous token of tenderness as to induce those receiving his help to accept it with joy
Elsa Maggiori one of citizen of Rimini said: “…. she had hastened to get to Rimini but she found her house to have become a heap of ruins… while she was weeping, her soul in full despair, all of a sudden he stepped forward, he seized her hand in his own and led her to some folks he was in friendly connection with.
“Along the way his devoutly reciting the Rosary soothed our pains as we were dejected owing to the tragically occurring events in those days.”
Giorgio Torri, One of his friend remembers that, during those days coming on one after another, always grey, hard and dull, never seemed worried about it and he never came to a stand hill in incarnating St. Paul’s great teaching; but I felt to be really happy whenever I had the chance to lead the souls to Jesus.
Aldo Savelli one of poor lady in Rimini reported: “During the very cold wintertime of 1945/46, with his bicycle, he used to go to vergiano every two nights to take milk, also to my child; he refused to be thanked and asked for ‘prayers’ only. I have always kept in my heart the affable tone of his voice. Jesus starts declaring his beatitudes with “Blessed the poor in spirit because the reign of heavens is theirs.”He was a man poor in spirit, because he was utterly aware of having nothing of his own; he knew how life and all the things of the world are freely created by God’s will, and there is no pretending of human creatures to use things as if he was owner of them.
As a true Christian, he had a very keen sense of catholicity and realized the truth according to which “unanimity, fruit of charity, and union of will, not at all of opinions.” He through his living carried into effect the very meaning of charity as pointed by St. Paul in his hymn to charity.
He knew quite well that faith is “Service” to be freely offered to fellow- creatures. What about giving not only the surplus, but even what is necessary, as he often did!
He was utterly bereft of the so called “human respect”; prejudices that unfortunately may so easily affect even religious person’s behavior. When, during the German occupation, he entered the Todt organization, his only aim was to avoid that many young men might be transported to Germany and to attempt to save many lives. In fact the Todt organization got a special free – pass for him, and it was a great use for him to carry out risky undertakings. For some weeks he had two defaulters who had been recruited by the fascists to lie hidden in our house, running the risk of being shot.
Friendship was not for him mere human feeling, but theological virtue of Evangelical Charity. Like St. Gerard, who retained the poor to be his masters, he was especially fond of the poor because “they are the real givers”. In the light of this truth, he felt honored to serve them, quite aware that he was as it is Jesus himself he served in these persons. It was with such spirit of services that he freely offered a meal to more than thousands of poor men and women during Easter in 1946. That’s why he always asked Jesus the grace to enable him to practice mercy. Town folk were struck with wonder when they saw him to be first to get to damaged places – his ardent prayer was; “Jesus give me a bit of your infinite love for men and their miseries, of endless and supernatural power and faith of your apostolate”. He offered himself even for the most humble works such as carrying the luggage, furniture etc. belonging to those who had been compelled to leave their houses, especially the worthless household – implements of the poor and of the forsaken.
Afterwards he did not leave them forlorn, because he continuously got to help them with his bicycle loaded with victuals and clothes. There was a sort of legend about me because he was deemed to be invulnerable, owing to the many dangers he had always escaped from safe and sound.
During the last 2 years of war he was restlessly engaged in lavishing his care on the frail without fear of any danger; because aiding the poor in despair was necessity, and risking life for them was duty for me. He conceived his work a duty. He was uninterruptedly and unreservedly engaged by his service on his brothers, facing perils and risking life for them, overwhelmed as they were with misery and despair. His heart was so broken by his brother’s pains that he insistently and sincerely asked Jesus to afford them with the grace of suffering for them and to be able to make of pains a source of supernatural Joy. In addition to charitable works he was engaged in, to relieve those reduced to starvation, he felt obliged to offer the charity of his great technical and professional capacity as an engineer, acting with the rare courage of steadfast and worry caution not to be served from moral uprightness in accomplishing the requests of those who has suffered material damages, during those horror creating post war days.
The technical data he had to collect, the calculations and the plans he had to get ready, the drawings he had to enclose to the matters he has to solicit, were so many that he was compelled to work even during the night.
Jesus is always in love
He never allowed all who has received his works as an expert to be left helpless, especially those who were more incapable, in order to had them identified for the damages they had suffered, as soon as possible. In 1939 he knew a young girl named Marilena for whom he felt a tender sentiment and, for some time, He also thought to marry her; but after long reflections and prayers he only considered her like a sister. Friends think and reflect over your lives. Give first preference to God the almighty and reflect by asking a question that; “Are we following Jesus or the world?” Love each other but love in accordance with your call.
His daily life was so busy as to be exhaustive, either for the rhythm of his professional and charitable works, or his spiritual duties, because, when he was a member of Catholic Action again, he was taken up with many binding tasks.
Establishment of the territory of town of Rimini was long and very hard, because of the huge disasters caused by a very cruel war and by 1000s of Victims. All over Italy, only the town of Cassino had been destroyed like that. It was obviously indispensable to have a committee to be established to start rebuilding the town. The precedence, both of this committee and of the town loading committee, were entrusted to Alberto.
Life after the war was very hard for the citizens in Rimini to be able to get their livelihood as well as to civil living in order again: the revenge of the defeated, the political passions, and the vengeance for the endured wrongs, were a threat for a civil and democratic renewal. In these critical circumstances, it was he was to assume, without reverence the defense of the rights of the weak, of the oppressed and of the persecuted. In 1945 he took up teaching again, and began, by his behavior, to establish a new kind of contact with pupils and fellow – teachers, that is to say to be on brotherly terms with them. He often mused on death, but this was for him a chance to enhance more and more spiritual life and to have his faith to be more effective in charitable works.
Like Pier Giorgio, He also commented on the ‘Rerum Novarum’. By Pope Leo XIII” to young men, and proved to be fully acquainted with the Christian social doctrines he taught. His passion was likewise very intense when he was engaged as a member of the A.C.L.I. (Catholic Association of Italian Workers), and used some premises belonging to the A.C. L.I. to have free meals to be bestowed to workers and to the poor of the town. He used to go about to collect packages of clothes and cared to deliver them himself to those who were extremely in need. He got, by the A.C.L.I., a proper office to be opened for the research of missing citizens and to hasten to return home of war prisoners. Mean while, as the social doctrines by Karl Marx being spread among the workers to have them indoctrinated with them, He never failed to betake himself before the gates of the factories to have the workers to be acquainted with the Christian doctrines, and to show how false and harmful Marx’s ideas were as compared to Christian ones, as well as to speak of Christ to them. Owing to the indefatigable work, he was deemed to be the only Christian acting as he did. His love for his brothers reached the heroism of Christian forgiveness, too. Once he was beaten so cruelly as to be left bleeding by persons who has grown up enraged and wicked because of the misery they had been living in. When he heard of the horrors of the Nazism extermination camps, of the crematory ovens and of the slaughter of the Jewish he wept and prayed. When he says that “we must give the others the gifts we have been given gratuitously by God’s love.” He affirms how pretentious it is to believe to the owners of such gifts – Vincenzo, Cananzi, a young man whose liveliness was not always positive, reported: “There was in his innermost ‘self’ a wisdom that was most outcome of age, because it perennially overflow from the inner man and he lived it out as a very vivid faith, day by day, and a true Christian awareness that was evidenced in actions.” He was a true born Christian also in his political engagement that will be for him a work of charity Pope Pius XI had already said : ‘the political fields are the fields of a wider charity, political charity.”
A New Responsibility
Bishop of Rimini proposed him as the President of Catholic Graduates, but he asked bishop to give him some time to think about it and, afterwards he accepted this task with lots of prayers and reflections. The meetings were presided by him, were attended by teachers, physicians, Magistrates. He initiated a popular university, too; engaging all the catholic graduates in this activity. He did not leave out to apply a remedy to the moral and spiritual dangers on beach life. War left many human derelicts behind it. Wretched crowds, who were very poor, living disorderly, houseless families, for love, taking of everything, it was a social and moral plague that urged him to organize Holy Masses for them, as well as to supply meals for those who had nothing to eat; teaching them how to pray. In order to get money necessary for his work, he went about begging. The poor were always his dearest brothers
He was also “a young Christian involved in politics,” where “He left a sign of cleanness, transparency, dignity, correctness, which is a great message for all politicians today. One can be in politics and be a Saint, and this is a very great message that comes from his life,” said Archbishop Angelo Comastri of Loreto, in a conversation on Vatican Radio. My brother’s legacy unlocked through the words of Archbishop Comastri of Loreto.
Flying to his country
On the evening of 5 October 1946, as he was cycling to attend a meeting for the local elections, for which he was a candidate, he was run over by an army truck and died a few hours later without regaining consciousness. He was 28 years old. His funeral was attended by many and they paid homage to the future saint.
The scheduled elections were held as news of his death spread throughout the city, and many citizens decided to vote for him just the same. His mother, however, was elected in that place.His tomb was placed in Saint’ Augustine Church on 5th of October 1974 and is continuously visited by people to pray and ask for intercession.
An Universal Brother
On July 7, 2003, in the presence of the Pope JOHN PAUL II, the decree was promulgated recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of this young member of Catholic Action. The miracle attributed to his intercession was experienced by a doctor of Bologna, who was inexplicably cured from a type of hernia in 1991. In postwar Rimini, the future blessed went without shoes, which he had given away to the poor, and constantly rode his bicycle from the city to places where refugees were hiding, to give them food and spiritual consolation. On the 22nd of March 1986 he was proclaimed “Venerable”. Pope John Paul II raised Alberto Marvelli to the title “Blessed” on 20th of July 2003, and Pope proposed him as the model of daily virtues for the Christians of this era.
John Paul II noted during his beatification ceremony, his life is a call for all of us to find our path to holiness in our family, our politics and our profession.
HOMILY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
“ a young man who was strong and free and a generous son of the Church of Rimini and of Catholic Action, considered his brief life of only 28 years as a gift of love to Jesus for the good of his brethren.”Jesus has enfolded me in his grace”, he wrote in his diary; “I no longer see anyone but him, I think only of him”. Alberto had made the daily Eucharist the centre of his life. In prayer he also sought the inspiration for political commitment, convinced of the need to live to the full as children of God in history in order to make it a history of salvation.
In the difficult time of the Second World War, which sowed death and multiplied violence and atrocious suffering, Bl. Alberto fostered an intense spiritual life, from which flowed the love for Jesus that led him constantly to forget himself and to take on the cross of the poor.
Dear brothers and sisters, friends of Catholic Action who have gathered in Loreto from Italy, from Spain, from many parts of the world! Today, through the beatification of these three Servants of God, the Lord is saying to you: the greatest gift you can make to the Church and to the world is holiness.
May you have at heart what the Church has at heart: that numerous men and women of our time be won over by fascination for Christ;may his Gospel shine once more as a light of hope for the poor, the sick, those who hunger for justice; may Christian communities be ever more lively, open and attractive; may our cities be hospitable and liveable for all; may humanity follow the paths of peace and brotherhood. It is up to you lay people to witness to the faith through your own specific virtues: fidelity and gentleness in the family, competence at work, tenacity in serving the common good, solidarity in social relations, creativity in doing useful deeds for evangelization and human promotion. It is also up to you, in close communion with the Pastors, to show that the Gospel is timely and that faith does not tear the believer from history but roots him in it more deeply.
Courage, Catholic Action! May the Lord guide you on your journey of renewal!
May the Immaculate Virgin of Loreto accompany you with tender concern; the Church looks to you with confidence; the Pope greets you, supports you and wholeheartedly blesses you.
Italian Catholic Action, thank you”!
We can say Alberto Marvelli’s whole life, throughout his intense and generous activity, offered as a gift to his fellow creatures, is very ardent love for Jesus that, he utterly and indefatigably lets to flow, with a heart sweeter than a mother’s heart and more in love than a bridegroom’s heart, like waves of tenderness, to reach his brothers Jesus himself is living in. In the dick darkness we are living in, Alberto Marvelli is a light for us all and for the human creatures of the time to come.
“Prayer’s invincible power is not based on our own merits, but on those of Christ Jesus, in His fullness of mercy and grace. And believe whatever you shall ask the Father through Christ Jesus, in His name, we will be given”(A. Marvelli).
Turn to Mary, because through her virginal blood formed the holy flesh and virgin blood of Jesus Christ. Through her virginal goodness and love, created virginal souls in this world and they become evangelizers and bearers of Christ in the failing world .Mary’s fiat to the Father is like a magnet that gathers all the goodness and splendors, whom God created: through her fiat the Wisdom become flesh, by her fiat, her maternal and holy womb receives the seed that will give us all the Bread of Life, and Life itself, and with her fiat Jesus Christ gave us redemption through His passion in Gethsemane. May we learn to become obedient and holy children of God, to say our each other’s fiat as to unveil the will of God, in our lives and to be sustained with His grace. May we reap and enjoy the beauty of His goodness