Little Servants of Christ the King
Beatification and Canonization of the Founders
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Servant of God
Father Sosio Del Prete
* Frattamaggiore 1885
† Napoli 1952
Servant of God
* New York 1909
† Portici 1960
Mother Antonietta Giugliano was born in New York on July 11,1909. Her parents had emigrated from Afragola, a town in the province of Naples (Italy), to the U.S. some years before. Her mother died when Antonietta was five years old. One year later the family moved back to Italy.
Her father wanted his daughter to receive a serious religious education. He left her in the care of the Sisters of Charity of Regina Coeli in Naples where Antonietta spent her childhood and adolescence. During that time she deepened her gifts of listening, reflection and prayer. The painful events of her life further strengthened her natural talents of prudence, justice, courage and discretion. Antonietta could also feel growing in her heart the gift of an unshakeable faith, a hope totally oriented towards spiritual values, a fervent charity and total self-giving to others.
At sixteen years of age her inner life started to bloom. The seed of a religious vocation began to ripen in her. It was at first a rather vague thought, but it soon began to grow.
Her widowed father had in the meantime remarried and the family had ambitious projects for the young girl: they wanted a marriage suited to her social and financial standing. She was also a beautiful girl with flowing black hair and big black eyes, which revealed her deep inner life and foreshadowed a radiant future.
But her heart longed for wider horizons. It could not be limited and restricted to family ties. It could not be satisfied by them. Her heart was searching, though still in a not clearly defined way, for a greater love. She longed for an ardent, yet not possessive love. She yearned for a concrete, not abstract love, she wanted love to fill other people's hearts, more than her own. She wanted a love that would at last give meaning and life to the emptiness caused by the absence of motherly love in her childhood. She knew that only such love would transform her longing into a fruitful spiritual maternity.
She started reading the Imitation of Christ, praying with the Bible and meditating on the life of Theresa of the Child Jesus.
Her intelligence and her total availability to God made her soon realize that there was a special call in store for her. In 1925 she went back to Afragola. She was in the full bloom of her youth, but while girls of her age often gave their hearts to suitors and enjoyment, Antonietta was busy drawing up a detailed rule of Christian Life. It comprised 32 points and mapped out her week with commitments, good actions, examinations of conscience and penance.
She confided only with her sister-in-law Raffaellina Tuccillo, who was five years younger than herself. The two girls spent much time together, sharing their dreams for the future. Raffaellina was captivated by Antonietta's growing vocation (a stumbling block for the family). She also began to feel the stir of a grace which in due course would mysteriously tie her to the destiny of her friend.
One day Antonietta and Raffaellina paid visit to a cousin, a missionary Sister living in France but passing through Afragola. In that meeting Antonietta saw a sign from God. She was excited at the thought of the great deeds of charity that could be carried out in mission lands (At that time Pope Pius XI was giving great attention to missionary work). Perhaps, she thought, bringing the Good News to faraway lands was the answer to that need for total self-giving she felt so strongly in her heart. Humility and the awareness of her limitations convinced her that she should seek advice from a Priest, Giuseppe Romanucci, who was also her cousin. He invited her to pay special attention to that call. He told her to go to Padre Sosio Del Prete, the Superior of the Franciscan Convent of Saint Anthony and open her heart to him. He added that this Priest was loved by all because of his works of charity.
That was God's plan to make his two servants meet. It was the spring of the year 1929. Antonietta had recently lost her father Francesco and inherited a large patrimony, even though she was still too young to come into possession of it.
Father Sosio was struck by Antonietta's enthusiasm, her complete self-giving to God, the radical nature of her faith and by her progress on the road of perfection. However he did not want to move too fast. He did not want to involve her immediately in his own works of charity. First he wanted to test her perseverance, her strength of character and her prudence. He helped her on the slow journey of deepening her relationship with God.
Father Sosio's insight was right. He was able to perceive in Antonietta the spiritual strength and generosity needed to minister to the old and less fortunate people of Afragola.
From this time onwards the lives of the two Founders are intimately intertwined. Together they gave birth to the apostolate of love embodied by the Little Servants of Christ the King.
Antonietta received the religious habit from Cardinal Alessio Assalesi on October 20,1935. She took as her rule of life, the rule of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis. She gave herself totally to the growth and the strengthening of the new religious family, which she guided as first Superior General till her death. She was a wise Superior, protecting her religious family with courage and strength during difficult and stormy times.
She accepted with Christian faith and courage the sickness that cut her life short when she was barely fifty years of age in 1960 in Portici.
Mother Antonietta Giugliano was a contemplative in action. Her life is the best witness to her genuine self-giving to God, for her love of God and of others and to her unshakeable hope.
Her body lies in the chapel of the Mother House of the Little Servants of Christ the King in Afragola.
From the writings of the Servant of God Antonietta Giugliano
"I am at present a patient at the Clinica della Madonnina in Milan. I think these are the last days of my life. I would like to write my last will even if I think there is no real need for it. In fact I have already written my Spiritual Testament with the kind of life I have tried to live. However I would like to express my last wishes and desires.
I want to die when and in the way God wants me to die, as a member of the Catholic Church. I ask, if possible, you be so kind as to give me the comfort of the Holy Sacraments every day of what remains of my life until the day of my death. I intend to die as I have tried to live with the help of the Holy Eucharist, which is the strength and the joy of every moment of my life, even in the most difficult ones. Pay me this kindness as long as it is possible, according to my physical condition."
"I kneel before all my Sisters... If my blessings have any worth before God, let them flow with all their power and love on all my Daughters, the Little Servants of Christ the King. I will never be able to praise and bless them enough for the wonderful work they do with such great discretion.
Let them always work in silence of discretion. God loves the silence of a hidden life, more than the darkness of clamour. May these daughters of mine be blessed. They have been the love of my life, my joy and my hope!
They will be all the more blessed if they strive to live following God's path in the spirit of Saint Francis seraphic ideal. I implore these blessings for myself, for them and for those who will join them in the future. I implore Our Lady "Comforter of the Afflicted" to grant them all these blessings. I ask that my daughters be devoted to her in a special way. I put my benefactors, my Superiors, friends and enemies if any, under the care of Our Lady "Comforter". I offer my love to my enemies and I hope they will grant me theirs. I have never failed to pray daily for them when receiving Holy Communion".
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|last modified: 01/07/2007|
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