Vico Necchi


The Servant of God Vico Necchi

The vigor of the Franciscan Order is exhaustless. After seven hundred years it has not yet been spent, rather it seems to have taken on additional life in this present age that is so unpropitious to all that savors of the supernatural. On January 10, 1930, Louis (Ludovico, hence Vico) Necchi, professor of biology at the University of Milan, died. His will prescribed that on his headstone be engraved the simple legend, Vico Necci, Franciscan Tertiary. These significant words tell the story of so extraordinary a life, that all who knew the deceased are putting forth every effort for his beatification.

He was born in Milan on November 19, 1876. While still a young man, he joined the forces of Christ and the Church. The Franciscan spirit became manifest in him in a special way from the day he was invested with the garb of the Third Order. Later, because of his position as a physician, he frequently moved in circles where everything that savored of Christianity was rejected or even attacked. These people he met with the enthusiasm of a Paul and the kindliness of a Francis, and thus he was instrumental in gaining not a few to enlist under the banner of Christ. Among his converts was a young radical who later became a Franciscan and the rector of the Catholic University at Milan, Augustine Gemelli. Together they founded the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. And when Rome called for Catholic Action against socialism, Necchi was found at the head of the ranks. He considered his medical profession a holy apostolate which he employed for the welfare of the souls of his patients as well as of their bodies. He lavished his services without cost on the care of backward children.

Blessed Vico (Ludovico) Necchi

The spirit of prayer, humility, and charming cheerfulness was the mainstay of this model Tertiary, even though adversities demanded a heavy sacrifice from him. Professor Doctor Vico Necchi is a brilliant example of active Christianity for everyone, particularly for the representatives of modern learning and culture.

What is Catholic Action? It is the union of Catholic forces for the maintenance, administration, accomplishment, and defense of Catholic principles in the life of the individual, of the family, and of society. Just as the servant of God Vico Necchi has exemplified it for us. In order to do our share toward the proper promotion of Catholic sentiment and Catholic principles in public life, it is not sufficient that our names be entered in the baptismal record, that we approach the Communion railing, and belong to Catholic societies. Catholic in our dealings with others and Catholic in conduct – that is Catholic Action. Active Christianity! “The kingdom of God is not in speech but in power.” (1 Cor. 4,20)

Catholic Action is necessary. It aims to erect a barrier against the tide of religious indifference, lack of charity, and immorality of our day. The clergy can no longer do the work alone. Hence the call for Catholic Action of the laity. Catholic, energetic laymen, to the front! If the laity refuse their assistance, the already overburdened clergy must succumb, and with them Catholicity. But what lay apostles can do has been shown us by the servant of God Vico Necchi.

Remember the patron of Catholic Action. Holy Church has appointed St. Francis of Assisi to this position. St. Francis, who was not a priest, shows the lay apostles the correct way to approach Catholic Action, namely, by loyalty to the Church, the Pope, and the Bishops; by unselfish zeal for Christ and His interests; by personal exemplary conduct. Where the Franciscan spirit reigns, there Catholicity will not fare badly.

During the seven and a half centuries of its existence, the Franciscan Order, including all its branches, has been blessed by God with a very large number of saints and saintly persons. “Reading your history,” declared Pope Pius XII, “one is astounded by the number and variety of the blossoms of holiness, of the fruits of apostolic work, that have budded and matured on the three branches of the thriving and vigorous tree of the Franciscan Order.”

Prayer of the Church

Defend us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, from all dangers of body and soul, and mercifully grant us peace and salvation through the intercession of St. Francis, so that after overcoming all adversities and errors, Thy Church may serve Thee in liberty and peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

*from The Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM

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