Blesseds Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi

02-24-2019Liturgy CornerMichael R. Heinlein

Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi have the distinction to have been the first married couple jointly beatified by the Church, sharing the same necessary miracle attributed to their intercession. In many ways, their beatification was seen as a fruition of the Second Vatican Council’s desire for all the baptized to understand their call to holiness. As Pope St. John Paul II said in his homily at their 2001 beatification, “Today the aspiration of the Council is fulfilled with the first beatification of a married couple. Their fidelity to the Gospel and their heroic virtues were verified in their life as spouses and parents.”

A childless uncle and his wife requested to raise and adopt Luigi as their own son. Agreed to by Luigi’s parents, he maintained a close relationship with them. In many ways, this unique situation helped prepare Luigi for his vocation as a husband and father. Luigi studied law and went on to a distinguished career in civil service.

Maria Corsini was introduced to Luigi through her father, who was a friend of Luigi’s adopted family. Maria was a woman of culture who loved music and was a professor and published writer in the field of education. She was very conscious of care to the poor and needy — on several occasions she volunteered with the Red Cross. During World War II, Maria oversaw the welcome of refugees into the family home and was generous with anyone who came to their door in search of life’s necessities.

Married in 1905, the Quattrocchis had four children — two of whom became priests and one a nun. Their fourth child was born in 1913 after a long and painful pregnancy. The situation had been so dire that Maria’s physicians recommended an abortion, which she and Luigi both resolutely rejected.

Amid the busyness of family life, the holy couple aimed to help each other and their children to answer the call to holiness. Years later, their son, Cesare, said, “There was a kind of race between Father and Mother to grow in spirituality. She began in the ‘pole position’ as she already lived an intense faith experience, while he was certainly ‘a good man, just and honest but not very practicing.’”

Together the Quattrocchis’ holiness grew by attending daily Mass and reciting the Rosary as a family each evening. They regularly took part in retreats and participated in theology courses at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. Their family participated each month in a Eucharistic vigil associated with the First Fridays devotion, as they were consecrated together as a family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the time of their beatification, said that the Quattrocchis “made a true domestic church of their family, which was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity with the poor and to friendship.”

The Quattrocchis were visionary in their desire to spread the Gospel in the social sphere. They are counted among the founders and organizers of three apostolates, including Italian associations for Catholic scouting and laity, as well as a charitable organization founded to bring sick and infirm pilgrims to Lourdes and other shrines.

Luigi died in 1951, and Maria died 14 years later in 1965. The legacy they left behind is summed up best in the words of Pope St. John Paul II: “The blessed couple lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.” Their feast day is Nov 25.

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