A Relative Saint

August 11, 1996
Brother John Raymond

	Have you ever met anyone who is a relative of a Saint? In our
 country that doesn't happen very often. So I was surprised to
 receive a phone call from Barbara who was a distant relative of St.
 Anthony Gianella. Five years ago, Barbara learned from her second
 cousin, Dr. Virgil Gianelli, that St. Anthony was his great
 grandfather's nephew. Dr. Virgil follows in St. Anthony's footsteps
 in his commitment to the poor and the sick.
	Barbara learned of my article (Catholic Twin Circle, May 14)
 about the Saint from her uncle, Bill Gianelli, who was is in a
 convalescent hospital in California. The sisters who ran the
 hospital gave Bill my article on the saint. Bill sent the article to
 his niece Barbara, who is not Catholic, by the way. She was so
 excited to see something written about St. Anthony Gianelli in the
 United States as he was from Italy that she decided to track me
	Barbara wrote me a letter detailing her visit to Italy where she
 saw the places where the Saint lived. She saw the shrine of Our Lady
 of the Garden where the Saint liked to pray. A painting on the
 garden wall (from 1493) of Our Lady is preserved inside the
 cathedral at Chiavari. Barbara said, "It was hard to believe we were
 standing in the church where St. Anthony was pastor and the town
 where he founded Figlie di Maria SS. dell'Orto (The Sisters of Our
 Lady of the Garden.) She told me she read about St. Anthony
 receiving the "Miracle of the Swallows" there in 1835. I have no
 idea what this miracle was but since she found a bird's feather
 there she brought it home as a fond remembrance.
	Barbara visited the Sisters' motherhouse in Rome and was shown
 the Saint's relics. She got to "sit in the chair he used when he was
 bishop of Bobbio." The sisters took her to visit Cerreta, the
 birthplace of the Saint. Barbara was given a tour of the Gianelli
 house "and got to see the room where our saint was born and where he
 tended the fire as a child and studied by firelight...Then a priest
 from the neighboring village of Castello arrived to give Mass in the
 little Cerreta church. Although we don't understand Italian, it was
 one of the most moving experiences of our lives."
	Barbara is not the only one who contacted me about this Saint. A
 short time ago on Compuserve, a computer online service, I received
 an e-mail from Thomas J. Gianelli, M.D. He said, "I have just signed
 on to WOW and from curiosity called up the family name 'Gianelli' on
 the Internet. There, I found a beautiful prayer to St. Anthony
	Dr. Tom related that
 he was a member of the Serra Club. He had attended the International
 Convention for this club in Genoa, Italy over a year ago. While
 there he visited the same places Barbara had. He said he was going
 to give a talk about the "Life and Times of Saint Antonio Maria
 Gianelli" to the Serra Club.
	Now Barbara, Dr. Tom and even the Sisters of Our Lady of the
 Garden were curious how I ended up writing about this obscure saint
 in our country. The answer was not very edifying. I had to write
 about three saints for a Church History class I once had. Being
 pressed for time I looked for short biographies in our library. St.
 Anthony Gianelli won because his biography fit into a thirty-three
 page booklet! In thinking about the response I have received
 concerning this saint I thought perhaps it is because this year is
 the 150th anniversary of his death.
	So what does all this have to do with prayer? Perhaps a lesson
 could be learned from a lady I know who makes a special effort to
 pray to unknown saints. She does this because she says, "They're not
 as busy as the more popular ones." Now I don't know about busy
 signals for prayers directed to busy saints but I do know that the
 saints are filled with zeal to intercede for us. They rejoice when
 we pray to them. Perhaps we give a special joy to those saints that
 have been forgotten when we pray to them. It might be a good
 practice to learn about and pray to these FORGOTTEN saints
 from time to time. Why not make a new friend?