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
Father Sosio was born on December 28,1885 at Frattamaggiore, a town in the province of Naples (Italy) belonging to the Diocese of Aversa. His Baptismal name was Vincenzo.
In November 1901 he entered the novitiate of the Franciscan Minors (OFM) of the province of Naples and Terra del Lavoro, in the Convent of Saint Giovanni del Palco at Taurano. He received the habit and took temporary vows in 1902. On December O8,1905 he took perpetual vows.
He was ordained priest on March 12,1910.
He obtained a diploma in music at the academy of music San Pietro Majella in the town of Naples. He also became an orchestral director.
Father Sosio was an exemplary priest and led a deeply spiritual life. Until 1930 he carried out the tasks assigned to him by his superiors, giving much of his time to the Sacrament of Confession. He did not however forget his deep passion for music. This became for him an expression of his deep spiritual life as a priest. This life was nourished by the Sacraments and by constant prayer.
When he was appointed to the convent of Saint Anthony in Afragola, in the province of Naples he became aware of the moral and material conditions of the neglected, starving and sick elderly people.
He decided to use all the resources at his disposal to help these outcasts of society.
A meeting with a neglected old woman became the turning point of his life. This meeting fully opened his heart to charity.
On June 6,1932 together with the Servant of God Antonietta Giugliano he founded the Religious Institute of the Little Servants of Christ the King.
His extraordinary work was built on the theological foundation of the Kingship of Christ. At first it expressed itself in the foundation of homes for the elderly and children: Afragola (1932), Torre Annunziata (1937), Boscoreale (1945), Napoli (1945), Portici (1946), S. Giuseppe Vesuviano (1949).
There were two main phases in his work: the protection of the elderly until the end of the Second World War and defence and education of neglected children and young people after the War.
Father Sosio always submitted to ecclesiastical authority. His work, his discretion, his continuous prayer, his acceptance of suffering and his spiritual strength, did much to foster the growth of the Institute.
His love for the Institute was second only to his love for Jesus Christ. He overcame all difficulties with steadfast strength and deep justice, always fully trusting in Providence. He gave himself completely to God, to the outcast and to the Church. These particular traits highlight his spirituality centered in a special way on the passion of Christ. He could see the beloved face of the suffering Christ in the poor old women, in the ragged old men, in the orphans and in abandoned children. He contemplated that Holy Face during the countless hours spent praying in front of the tabernacle.
He was aware of the fact that Jesus' sufferings had a redeeming value and that the mystery of the Passion did not end with the sepulcher, but was fulfilled in the Resurrection. It was the glorious Christ, King of the universe that he put as a role model to the Sisters of his Congregation.
He had a deep devotion to the Eucharist. His priestly work found expression especially in the Sacrament of Confession and the Anointing of the sick. He loved and took care of sick people giving them human warmth and affection.
For them he built a nursing home, which he named after Saint Pius X.
He paid much attention to the liturgy and to prayer. He was also devoted to the Saints whom he considered role models of Christian life. He loved the Church in a tender way and had a particular respect for the Pope. It was however in the tender and filial devotion to the Virgin that Father Sosio's heart vibrated with great intensity.
He always found comfort in the Virgin Mary when he was troubled and worried. It was in her that he found the support he needed in his apostolic work. During the dramatic years of the Second World War, Father Sosio asked his sisters to constantly pray for peace.
His Franciscan feeling for harmony and nature made him reject war. He considered the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century a negation of Christianity, and fought with all his might against them.
Faith was never for him a purely external practice. It was the life giving fountain of his life. It is on the rock of faith that he built the Institute of the Little Servants of Christ the King. He always clung to faith, as a drowning person would cling to a tree in a swirling river.
He also clung to faith in the night between January 27 and 28, 1952 in Naples when he died from a heart attack. They found him in the morning still holding his breviary. He dedicated all his life and his energies to the mission God had given him.
He is buried at Afragola in the Chapel of the Mother House of the Institute.
From the writings of the Servant of God
"We cannot see or hear God. However isn't it true that if we care to listen, we constantly hear a voice speaking of God to us? The boundless waves of the ocean and the shining stars of the sky talk to us about God. The lofty mountain tops and the deep valleys talk to us about God. The pleasant hills and the blossoming flowers, the ripening wheat and the singing birds talk to us about God. The rising and setting sun, the day and the night, the roar of thunder, the flash of lightning, the crashing thunderbolt, the whistling wind, the raging hurricane, the thunderous storm, all talk to us about God. Man's work, the temples, the shrines, the silent places of death, religious monuments, science and art talk to us about God. Our body, the wonderful mechanism of our body talks to us about God. My soul and my conscience with its intense regrets, my heart with its fervent aspirations, my mind with its memories, talk to me about God.
Yes, my God! Everything talks to me about you, everything inside me and everything around me!
I hear your mysterious voice in the darkness of the night, in the dazing light of noon, in the candor of innocence and in the weight of guilt.
You always speak to my intelligence and even more to my heart. Everywhere I turn, my eyes see you and my heart feels you".
"Let's open our heart to hope and to great trust, believing that in Heaven we have a glorious and powerful Mother who is merciful and good.
Saint Bernard wrote that the heart of our earthly mother is only a pale shadow compared to the tenderness and goodness of Mary's motherly heart.
We need a heavenly Mother to come to our help. We have such a mother. God gave her to us. From heaven the Virgin Mary looks after, protects, understands and saves us.
Let us then love her, always. Let us love her with all our heart. Actions are the expressions of love. Let us then imitate her and follow her teaching. Let us imitate her immaculate virtue, purity and sanctity. In this way we shall avoid the scourge of sin and always walk along the path of Christian life. Only by loving, serving and imitating the Holy Virgin can we hope to have her protection in life, a happy death and eternal glory in Heaven".
Let charity reign always and over everything. True charity makes us one in love; it is warm and reliable; it is not put off by rejection and lack of gratitude; it is always generous and forgiving; it is forbears and overcomes evil with good; it takes care of bodily and spiritual needs; it weeps with those who weep and comforts them; it brings light to the blind in spirit; it gives strength to those who waver; it brings back to the right path those who go astray and it gives itself totally to the salvation of souls.
Our present day society needs this kind of charity. Mankind needs this charity".
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|last modified: 01/07/2007|
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