(ANS – Ciudad del Vaticano) – On March 23, 2023, the Holy Father Francis received in audience Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints. During the Audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same Dicastery to promulgate the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Carlo Crespi Croci, professed priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco; born May 29, 1891, in Legnano, Italy, he died April 30, 1982, in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Carlo Crespi was born in Legnano, near Milan, on May 29, 1891, as the third of 13 children, to a wealthy and influential family. He attended the local school and at the age of 12 entered the Salesian Institute Sant’Ambrogio Opera Don Bosco in Milan, where he made his first encounter with the Salesian reality. In 1903, he went to the Salesian high school in Valsalice, Turin, to complete his studies and it was here that he met Renato Ziggiotti, his classmate and future Successor of St. John Bosco. Sensing a call to Salesian life, he completed his novitiate in Foglizzo and made his first religious profession on September 8, 1907. In 1910, he made his perpetual profession.
It was during this period that he deepened his study of theology and philosophy and he taught mathematics, music, and natural sciences. On January 28, 1917, he is ordained a priest. At the University of Padua, he discovers the existence of a hitherto unknown microorganism, becoming known in scientific circles for this important discovery. In 1921, he received a doctorate in natural sciences, with a specialization in botany, and shortly afterward a degree in music.
It is 1923 when he leaves for Ecuador as a missionary. He first landed in Guayaquil, reached Quito, and finally settled permanently in Cuenca, where he would remain until his death. It was here that he began unprecedented human promotion work, founding several works: the Festive Oratory, the “Normal Orientalist” for the formation of Salesian missionaries, the “Cornelio Merchán” elementary school, the school of arts and crafts that would later take on the name Salesian Technical College, the Quinta Agronomica, i.e., the first agricultural institute in the region, the Salesian Theater, the Gran Casa de la Comunidad, the “Domenico Savio” Orphanage, and the “Carlo Crespi” museum, famous for its many scientific exhibits. In 1938, he organized the First Diocesan Eucharistic Congress in Cuenca.
Generations of Cuenca citizens benefit from his teachings and generosity. The gratitude of the common people for the good done by Father Crespi is such that it is powerfully manifested even in the painful circumstance that in 1962, due to a fire, saw the almost total destruction of the “Cornelio Merchán” Institute. Indeed, the people of Cuenca participated without hesitation in the reconstruction.
Much of his time is spent at the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Cuenca, whose devotion he zealously spreads. The last years of his life are spent entirely in the seclusion of the confessional, where the faithful follow one another in long lines, eager to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation, but at the same time also advice and comfort from the man they now do not hesitate to call “Saint Charles Crespi.”
Wearied by a life of hardship chosen to live as a poor man among his poor, on April 30, 1982, after asking for the last time to have the crucifix in his hands, the Venerable died in the “Santa Inés” Clinic in Cuenca from bronchopneumonia and a heart attack.
Source: ANS – “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana”