On November 28, 2019, His Eminence, Angelo Cardinal BECCIU, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, received an audience with the Holy Father Pope Francis.
During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the Congregation, to promulgate the Decree of the Heroicity of Virtue of Servant of God Friar Giacomo BULGARO. Friar Giacomo was a religious brother of the Friars Minor Conventual, originating from what is now the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy).
Friar Giacomo was born in Corticelle Pieve (Brescia, Italy) on January 29 1879, to a farmer, Giovan Battista CASSAMALI, and his wife Orsola. Giacomo was baptized a few days later, on February 2. His first religious instruction came from his mother and paternal grandfather. Giacomo attended elementary school for three years and then took private lessons from a teacher in exchange for some pumpkins.
In 1886, at age seven, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation from The Most Reverend Giacomo CORNA- PELLEGRINI, Bishop of Brescia, Italy (1827-1913). Friar Giacomo’s First Holy Communion presumably dates back to 1890, just before his family moved to Brescia.
In 1892, two years after his family moved to the “City of the Lioness”, his father died. This interrupted his apprenticeship to become a shoemaker. His day was divided between work, home and his service as an altar boy. He attended the Church of San Giovanni Battista and the Oratory of Don PINTOZZI. Then, in 1897, after his family made countless sacrifices and seemed to have finally gotten back on its feet, his mother died.
With his mother’s death, it fell to Friar Giacomo to be a parent to his sister and younger brother. He left his job as shoemaker, and became a building doorman.
In 1904, his brother Giovanni turned eighteen and returned home from the orphanage. Giacomo parented him as well. Giacomo then opened a shop. His life alternated between dissolution and near balance. When Giovanni died in 1907, the Servant of God was thrown into despair.
After Giovanni’s death, his maternal aunt, Caterina, got much more involved in Giacomo’s life and had a positive influence on him. The Servant of God intended to marry, but none of the three girls he asked accepted his proposal.
1913 marked the year of Giacomo’s conversion. It occurred precisely on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8. After opening his soul to his Aunt Caterina, he felt a new hope in his heart. He is said to have had a divine vision on that day, and from that moment on, he lived a life of faith.
With the outbreak of World War I, Friar Giacomo, having a frail constitution, was assigned to the Red Cross as an attendant. In 1917, he asked Father Andrea FIRMO TROLLI to be his spiritual director, thus beginning a true journey of conversion leading to his consecrated life. His prayer life intensified and he began serving as a catechist. Those years were characterized by visions and his choice to practice corporal penance. At the same time, he began to suffer harassment of a diabolical nature.
In 1925, the Servant of God began attending morning Mass at the Church of San Francesco. The church’s rector, Father Angelo NAZZARI, understood the soul of this man, a man who increasingly desired to belong to God. Father Angelo suggested he become a Franciscan tertiary. The Servant of God followed the advice of his spiritual director. Later, Father Angelo suggested he should enter the Conventual Franciscan Order, because in a short while, the church and its adjoining friary would officially be assigned to the pastoral care of the friars.
The Servant of God entered the community of the Conventual Franciscan friars of Brescia on December 31, 1928.
On Sunday, July 14, 1929, Friar Giacomo was vested in the Franciscan habit. He began his canonical novitiate year in Brescia on August 3, 1930. His Novice Master was Blessed Friar Dionisio VICENTE of Spain. Friar Dionisio was martyred in his homeland during the Spanish Civil War. Friar Giacomo made his simple profession on August 23, 1931, and his solemn profession on October 16, 1934.
After solemn profession, the Servant of God was assigned to the office of porter of the community. In addition to welcoming visitors, he repaired shoes for the community and the poor. He worked diligently in other offices, such as the care of the refectory, helping in the sacristy and other small tasks. In 1936, the Guardian of the community asked him to write a spiritual diary, as Father Andrea had once suggested.
In 1945, Friar Giacomo’s friary suffered heavy bombardment. Some friars, including Friar Giacomo, had to move to Gazzolo. They did not return to their friary until the end of the war. Friar Giacomo’s last years were marked by a slow but inexorable physical decline. At the same time, those years were characterized by an intense prayer life.
The Servant of God died on January 27, 1967 at the age of 88. He was buried in the city cemetery. On the evening of April 28, 1994, his body was exhumed and reinterred in the Church of San Francesco in Brescia. Since then, his tomb has become a pilgrimage site for many believers trying to conform themselves to Christ.
By virtue of his fame of holiness, the Information Process was conducted at the ecclesial curia in Brescia from November 17, 1989, to March 22, 1991. The juridical validity of the Trial and of the Inquiry was recognized by the Congregation with a Decree dated November 27, 1992. Once the Positio was prepared, it was discussed, according to the usual procedure, to determine whether the Servant of God had exercised his virtues to a heroic degree. On June 26, 2018, a meeting of the Congress of Theological Consultors was held. During its Ordinary Session on November 19, 2019, the participating cardinals and bishops, and the presider, His Eminence, Angelo Cardinal BECCIU, recognized that the Servant of God exercised the theological virtues to a heroic degree.
Thanks be to God for our brother of holy virtue. We are now duty bound to follow in his footsteps.
Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAȘCU, Postulator General