Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini already a Saint to NYC parish

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Parishioners at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Greenwich Village always believed that the late Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini was a saint.

Soon, it will become official.

The beloved Manhattan bishop known for his devotion to the poor in the late 19th Century will be canonized by Pope Francis, as soon as the fall, a veteran Vatican journalist said this week.

A priest assigned to the parish lauded Scalabrini.

“What I always found exceptional and inspiring in Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini was his ability to bring together great faith and religious values with social commitment and missionary activity involvement,” said Father Ezio Marchetto of Our Lady of Pompeii, which has a bust of Scalabrini and stained glass windows depicting the unofficial patron saint of New York immigrants.

Marchetto has been a priest for 40 years with the Missionaries of St. Charles, which was founded by Scalabrini.

Scalabrini was a rebel Catholic bishop with a cause. He once publicly fought the Vatican over its hands-off approach to Italian politics and urged the church to relinquish papal property.

John Baptist Scalabrini
That Scalabrini is at the doorstep of Sainthood is a proud moment for Italian-Americans.

It’s been said Scalabrini was instrumental in having Mother Cabrini — the first US Saint, who taught at Pompeii — sent to New York instead of China. 

Scalabrini died in 1905 at age 55, four years after coming to New York to energize his missionary flock. John Paul II beatified Scalabrini in Saint Peter’s Square on Nov. 9, 1997, an official recognition of the priest’s entrance into heaven.

That Scalabrini is at the doorstep of Sainthood is a proud moment for Italian-Americans, including Joe Illuzzi, a Post editor and longtime parishioner at Our Lady of Pompeii, whose mom belonged to the parish from the time she immigrated to the US from Italy in 1954 until her death in August.

“She immediately gravitated toward Our Lady of Pompeii because the Italians in the parish, many of them immigrants like herself, made her feel at home,” Illuzi said.

“She didn’t speak English and they had a Mass in Italian and still do to this day. It meant so much to the immigrants to be able to assimilate into American life and pursue the American dream while still being able to live out their faith and carry on the Italian traditions.”

Philip Pullella, 68, a journalist who has covered the Vatican for 40 years, savors his time at Our Lady of Pompeii school and church.

“The order of Scalabrinians helped the children in the neighborhood to get an education,” noted Pullella, who came to the US from Italy in 1958. “The mob was in the neighborhood as well. Between the school and my family we went in the right direction. The priests and nuns and teachers kept us off the streets.”

Father Ezio Marchetto stands next to a bust of Bishop Scalabrini at Our Lady Of Pompeii Church.
Father Ezio Marchetto stands next to a bust of Bishop Scalabrini at Our Lady Of Pompeii Church.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post

Pullella said his sources are telling him the canonization will take place in October.

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