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Saintly Parents Inspire Holy Children: Venerable Vittorio Trancanelli


Last year, I started doing research on saintly parents. I wanted to find holy men and women, resolute moms and dads, who raised their families to live their faith fully. I was surprised at how many powerful examples we have in our Catholic faith. I wanted to share some of these inspiring stories with our readers, in a series of posts called Saintly Parents. This is the third article in the series about sainthood and parenting. Does parenthood make you a saint? Can your saintly life inspire your children to live holy lives as well? Venerable Vittorio Trancanelli's life proves that it 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 and God blessed them wlith nine children, two biological and seven from the gift of adoption. Throughout his life, Vittorio suffered from a rare illness called peritonitis, which was very painful. Despite his illness, he worked diligently as a doctor in Perugia, helping all those who were sick and came to him. His deep faith in God was a crucial factor in his medical career. He worked with the disabled and welcomed them into his home. He was named, "The Saint of the Operating Room".

One of the most beautiful aspects of Vittorio’s life was his openness to life and family. Several ofthe Trancanelli’s adopted 7 children had disabilities. Along with other local families, Vittorio and his wife welcomed women and children in 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 was a  strong characteristic of Vittorio’s life.

His life was far from one free of pain and suffering, even beyond the physical pain of his illness. He lost children due to illness and suffered from many of his own medical conditions. He was known to be especially sensitive to the pain of other people, especially children. Finally, peritonitis, the illness that had plagued him for most of his adult life, took him home to God. He died in 1998, 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 venerable after confirming his heroic virtue in 2017.

The three main “saintly parent” 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 hard when you are dealing with your own pain. As a parent, we must do this often with our children. Vittorio chose to do this and open the doors of his home and heart to others.

2) Magnanimity and generosity of heart are virtues the world desperately needs to see in parents today. As fathers and husbands, we can choose to be that example of generosity to our children. A generous heart has no limit on who or how it loves others. Christmas and Advent are wonderful times to stretch our heart muscles and be more aware of the needs of others.

3) Being a true Christian means opening your home and heart to those in need. Vittorio lived by this until his dying day. 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 called to bring people in off the street to our table. It might simply means inviting a neighbor, fellow parishioner, or even a relative over for a meal or a comforting chat.

Prayer Inspired by Venerable Vittorio’s Story:

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.

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