St. Hannibal M. Di Francia

Born in Messina, Italy, on July 5, 1851 from a noble family.While still very young, he had the intuition by divine inspiration on the importance of prayer in the pastoral care for vocations, even before discovering its origin from the Gospel. The words of Jesus:

“The harvest is great, but the laborers are few! Pray therefore the owner of the harvest, so that he will send laborers into his harvest” (Mt. 9, 37-38; Lk 10,2).

This became the light of his life and of his apostolate. Still a young man, he felt so clearly the call to the priesthood. In the meantime, he nourished the love and zeal for the salvation of all, especially the poor and the orphans.

In fact, after his priestly ordination on March 16, 1878, he dedicated himself to the moral and spiritual redemption of one of the poorest and miserable zones of his hometown, the Avignone quarters, where he was introduced, while still a deacon, through a providential encounter with a beggar.

In 1887 he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Zeal, and in 1897 the male Congregation of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus, with the task of living and spreading the teaching of Jesus on the prayer for vocations and placing themselves to the service of the little ones and the poor, particularly in the mission lands.

Inspired by the compassion of Jesus for “the exhausted and abandoned crowd, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9, 36), he tried all the means for the diffusion of the Rogate, the command of Jesus to pray the Owner of the harvest for the gift of “good workers”, considering it as effective instrument of evangelization and human promotion.

He wanted this prayer to become “universal”, involving everybody in the Church: Pope, bishops, priests, religious men and women, consecrated and lay people. His dream became a reality with the institution of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations by Pope Paul VI in 1964. He returned to the Father’s House on June 1, 1927 in Messina, Italy.

John Paul II proclaimed him Saint on May 16, 2004.



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