PROCESS ADVANCES FOR A MAYOR
PALERMO, Sicily, NOV. 6, 2000
Gravina lived in Sicily under Bourbon rule from 1800 to 1854. His
portrait is not that of a viceroy, but of a figure who experienced
suffering and loneliness.
At age 5
he lost his mother. His brother died as a baby. Three sisters entered
cloistered convents, and a fourth married. He also married, but the
marriage failed from the start. Betrayed for a decade by wife he loved,
he decided to separate in secret.
time, when he was alone, Gravina underwent a gradual conversion. Before
embracing the cause of the poor definitively, however, the city of
Palermo elected him mayor. He remained in this post, which his father
and grandfather occupied before him, until 1835.
as mayor gave him a profound knowledge of his city and of the plight of
the poor, and he began projects for the latter's relief. In no time, his
aristocratic home was crowded with the poor whom he himself found on the
streets of his city.
the Bourbons entrusted him with the creation of a beggars' shelter, in
which hundreds of miserable people from the streets were housed. By 1839
he was asked to manage a shelter for 1,000 people, including elderly
women, girls and boys. Two years earlier, he had founded a religious
congregation, the Sisters of Charity of the Prince of Palagonia.
was determined to liberate the poor, to educate them for work, and to
establish centers of assistance in the region. He did not give them
money, but his own belongings. Although a lay person in the world, the
prince was a man of prayer.
struck him in 1854 and he died surrounded by his poor. His legacy was
the congregation of religious and the institutes it directs.
we are one hundred," said Mother Ausilia Bulone of the Sisters of
the ceremony concluding the diocesan process of beatification, Cardinal
de Giorgi said, "By his life, Prince Gravina demonstrated that it
is possible to be holy dministrators, faithful husbands, despite
difficulties and betrayals, and agents of charity. We must pray that he
may become an example for each one of us."
Ausilia had only one wish: that the prince "become the protector of