On November 7, 2018, the Holy Father Pope Francis formally recognized the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Lodovico COCCAPANI, a layman of the Secular Franciscan Order.
The Servant of God was born in Calcinaia outside of Pisa on June 23, 1849, to Sigismondo (an artisan) and Fortunata GUELFI. He received the Sacrament of Baptism the next day with the name Lodovico Francesco Angiolo Cesare, and the Sacrament of Confirmation on his seventh birthday (June 23, 1856) at the hands of Cardinal Cosimo CORSI (1798-1870). The Venerable lost both his parents at a young age.
In 1864 the Servant of God moved to Pisa to study at the Royal Teachers’ School, receiving his diploma in 1867 as a teacher for higher elementary school. After first teaching in Pisa, he moved to an elementary school in Fucecchio (outside of Florence) where he remained for two years and was publicly recognized for his pedagogical prowess. He left teaching in 1869, and in 1871 he, his brother, and his sister moved back to Pisa. There he won a position as a debt collector, where he worked from 1872 to 1883. At that point he dedicated himself completely to charitable activities, living with his priest-brother Lionello and off his family savings.
On Saturday, December 7, 1907, the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Servant of God was invested with the Third Order Franciscan habit, making his profession on December 8 of the following year.
From the late 1880’s onward the Servant of God dedicated himself increasingly to evangelization and charitable works, joining numerous religious and civil committees for social assistance. In 1894 he entered the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at Santa Maria del Carmine, and in 1895 he also entered the Conference at Sant’Eufrasia, of which he served as President from 1907 until death. In 1914 the Servant of God was elected joint President of the three St. Vincent de Paul Conferences in the city. In 1918 he was recognized for his commitment to charity through the recommendation of Cardinal MAFFI with his nomination as a Knight of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory, civil class.
The charitable activity of the Servant of God had a notable impact upon society. Immediately following World War I he also involved himself in civic life. He became involved with a Pisan institute known as the “Buonomini (Gentlemen)”, where he dedicated himself to the moral and material care of prisoners. His commitment to prisoners was civilly recognized in 1925 with a bronze medal and certificate of merit for social rehabilitation. These two honors explain why the Servant of God is also known as the “Knight of Charity”.
His activity did not pass unnoticed as well in the Catholic world. He was on excellent terms with Cardinal Pietro MAFFI (1858-1831), who gave him a house in Calcinaia to construct an asylum. He was also involved with the future Bl. Giuseppe TONIOLO (1845-1918) regarding work with young people, as well as with Bishop Francesco Maria BERTI (1868-1944).
The Servant of God died of pneumonia at the age of 82.
Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAŞCU, General Postulator