Biographies of New Blesseds - 2013
Pietro Riva*

The following Blessed was beatified under Francis in 2013:

21 April 2013

Bl. Nicolò Rusca (1563- 1618)

Out of his 31 years of priesthood (1587-1618) Fr Nicolò Rusca — the priest who was beatified on Sunday, 21 April in Sondrio, in the Italian Alps, by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on Pope Francis' behalf — spent two (1599-90) [sic] living as parish priest in Sessa-Monteggio, Canton Ticino, Switzerland. For 29 years he was Archpriest in Sondrio (1691 [sic], with his official entry in 1618) and wonderfully impersonated the ideal character of the Gospel shepherd of souls (Jn 10:11-18), outlined a few years earlier by the Council of Trent (1545-63) and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council.

There are three fundamental aspects of a pastor of souls as zealous as Archpriest Nicolò Rusca. In the first place came his sound cultural and theological training for the priesthood; secondly, the fascinating exemplarity of a holy life; lastly, his unflagging pastoral zeal. This is the most emphasized and impressive dimension that documentary and testimonial proof has passed down to us about Rusca and it should be juxtaposed with the documentation of his death as a martyr.

For Rusca the years 1608 and 1609 were years of adversity and persecution. In these years he underwent two trials and experienced prison, escape, contumacy, the payment of a fine: all events that convinced him to view as the enemies of reformers: sectarians, because in these trials he was later recognized to be innocent; perpetrators of violence, because they were young radical and aggressive Calvinists, determined "to exterminate the Catholic faith" also in the Valtellina. And the obvious target of the Calvinist preachers was naturally the Archpriest of Sondrio, who could not but realize that sooner or later the persecution might lead to his martyrdom. Yet in spite of this possibility he continued to carry out his mission as a zealous pastor, as a champion professing the Catholic faith, even with the famous disputes. For the Calvinists, his enemies, he was the "great devil"; the minister of the new Babylon, Papist Rome!

What exacerbated and aroused the Calvinists' hostility was above all his determined and active opposition to the creation in Sondrio of a reform school open to Catholic youth, for the unstated purpose of disseminating Protestant texts in the Valtellina, a hotbed of heresy. He opposed this institution and its consequent failure was because the Catholic youth, obedient to their beloved pastor, did not attend the school. This marked the beginning of the countdown to his martyrdom.

*Postulator for the cause of Canonization


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
24 April 2013, page 9

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