Feast of Sts. Caterina Volpicelli, Giulia Salzano, and Ludovico da Casoria (May 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Unification of Italy

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)



Foundress of the Servants of the Sacred Heart

Her feast transferred from January 22 and December 28



Foundress of the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart 

Her feast day = May 17



Founder of the Gray Friars of Charity and Cofounder of the Gray Sisters of Saint Elizabeth

Also known as Arcangelo Palmentieri

His feast transferred from March 30


While I have any life left in me, I will continue to teach the catechism.  And then, I assure you, I would be very happy to die teaching the catechism.

–Saint Giulia Salzano


The development of this post began with the name of St. Giulia Salzano.  Her story led to two other saints about whom I could find information.  The expansion of this post beyond Salzano was a fortunate development, for one of my goals during the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.

These three saints, born in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816-1861), died in the united Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946).


St. Giulia Salzano affirmed the value of catechesis.  She, born at Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Casserta, on October 13, 1846, was a daughter of Adelaide Valentino and Diego Salzano, a captain in the Lancers of King Ferdinand II (reigned 1830-1859).  Diego died when St. Giulia was four years old.  Our saint, raised subsequently by Sisters of Charity in the royal Orphanage of Santa Nicola La Strada, remained there until the age of 15 years.  She studied to become a teacher.  After earning her diploma, St. Giulia moved to Casoria (near Naples), where her family lived, and began to teach in 1865.  She also taught the catechism and encouraged devotion to St. Mary of Nazareth.

At Casoria St. Giulia’s path crossed that of the other two saints.  She worked with St. Caterina Volpicelli in encouraging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Also, St. Ludovico da Casoria told St. Giulia,

Take care not to be tempted to abandon the children of our dear Casoria, because it is God’s will that you should live and die among them.

St. Giulia, who founded the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1905, died in Casoria on May 17, 1929.  She was 84 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 2002 then a Blessed the following year.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized her in 2010.


St. Ludovico da Casoria, born Arcangelo Palmentieri at Casoria, Naples, on March 11, 1814, did much to help many people.  He, apprenticed to a cabinet-maker, became a Franciscan friar in 1832, at the age of 18 years.  The newly minted friar assumed the name “Ludovico.”  He, later ordained a priest, taught mathematics and philosophy to friars in the city of Naples.  Our saint went on to work with the poor, found dispensaries for them, open a school for Africans freed from slavery, start a school for deaf and mute people, and found centers for the care of elderly friars.  In 1859 St. Ludovico founded the Gray Friars of Charity (defunct in 1971), to work in the institutions he had opened.  Three years later he and Margherita Salatino founded the Gray Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, the female counterparts of the Gray Friars of Charity.  St. Ludovico died of natural causes at Naples on March 30, 1885.  He was 71 years old.

Pope Paul VI declared St. Ludovico a Venerable in 1964.  Pope John Paul II elevated our saint to the status of Blessed in 1993.  Pope Francis canonized St. Ludovico in 2014.


St. Caterina Volpicelli, once a social climber, chose instead to serve God.  She, born in Naples on January 21, 1839, grew up in a devout and upper middle class family.  Our saint, educated at the Royal Educational Institute of St. Marcellino, studied under Margherita Salatino, who went on to found the Gray Sisters of Saint Elizabeth with St. Ludovico da Casoria in 1862.

St. Ludovico da Casoria influenced St. Caterina’s life directly.  She met him in Naples on September 19, 1854.  This encounter was, according to St. Caterina,

a rare stroke of prevenient grace, charity, and favor from the Sacred Heart, delighted by the poverty of his servant.

St. Caterina went on to become a Third Order Franciscan, due to the influence of St. Ludovico.

St. Caterina valued prayer.  On May 28, 1859, she joined the Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament.  Ill health forced her to leave shortly thereafter, though.  Our saint went on to associate herself with the Apostleship of Prayer.  Prayer led St. Caterina to act.  She founded the Servants of the Sacred Heart in 1874.  The new order opened orphanages, lending libraries, and other houses throughout Italy.  The Sisters at Ponticelli won much notice for tending to victims of an outbreak of cholera in 1884.  Also, St. Caterina, with the assistance of the Venerable Rosa Carafa Traetto (died in 1890), founded the Association of the Daughters of Mary.

St. Caterina, aged 55 years, died in Naples on December 28, 1894.  Pope Pius XII declared her a Venerable in 1945.  Pope John Paul II beatified our saint in 2001.  Pope Benedict XVI canonized St. Caterina in 2009.


These three saints, whose lives overlapped, served God in people in varieties of need.

May each of us do likewise, as God directs.






O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


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