Today the Church celebrates St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia, an Italian saint of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, who is most often remembered for his zeal for vocations. He also lived a life dedicated to pastoral work amongst the poor.
St. Hannibal was canonized by Blessed John Paul II in May 2004. In his homily for the canonization Mass, the Holy Father said:
"Whoever loves me will keep my word" (Jn 14: 23). In these words of the Gospel we see illustrated the spiritual profile of Hannibal Mary Di Francia, whose love for the Lord moved him to dedicate his entire life to the spiritual well-being of others. In this perspective, he felt above all the urgency to carry out the Gospel command: "Rogate ergo... Pray then to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!" (Mt 9: 38).
He left to the Rogationist Fathers and the Daughters of Divine Zeal the task to do their utmost with all their strength so that prayer for vocations would be "unceasing and universal." This same call of Fr Hannibal Mary Di Francia is directed to the young people of our times, summed up in his usual exhortation: "Fall in love with Jesus Christ."
From this providential intuition, a great movement of prayer for vocations rose up within the Church. I hope with all my heart that the example of Fr Hannibal Mary Di Francia will guide and sustain such pastoral work even in our times.
On this day of your feast, please pray for us St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia, that we may embrace our own vocations while praying especially for those who are discerning the priesthood and religious life.