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1873 - 1st March 1943

01/03/2019: General House

Joseph Carlo Vaser, Brother Alfano, dead on 1st March 1943, is an Italian Marist Brother, rather, the first Italian Marist Brother. He has been the first one in the chronological meaning of the word but above all he has been the top one in a spiritual sense. He climbed to the summit of holiness with a greater eagerness and zeal than when as a child, he enjoyed reaching for the heights of his beautiful and rugged native land: the Valley of Aosta.’’

This life, devoid of extraordinary events is however one of interior adventure. This life can also be compared with a mountain range: only those who are courageous enough to climb to its summit can enjoy its beauty.

Among our models of Marist holiness the most modest and the least known is certainly Bro. Alfano. He doesn’t have the prestige of Father Champagnat, the Founder, nor that of Bro. François, first Superior General. He doesn’t have the dimension of Bro. Basilio, Superior General: a man who lived in our world, after the historic pause of Vatican II and who crisscrossed and fertilized the Marist world. Nor does Alfano have the glory of martyrdom. His life was spent in houses of formation beginning in 1903: Master of Novices at 34 years of age in 1907, he will remain so for 15 years, then Director of Scholastics for 16 years. Modest situation which should be favorable to a religious whose ideal was effacement in a religious family where humility is one of its characteristics.

 Nevertheless, it is not rare to hear it said: “Bro. Alfano is certainly a saint, but of another time, of a bygone style of holiness, based on a meticulous respect of the Rule, on asceticism, and somebody who prayed with expressions of prayer which, to us, are no longer attractive.” And it’s true.

That surely is one of the aspects of Bro. Alfano’s holiness, but it’s far from being the most important. There is in him a humanity entirely filled with the goodness of God. We would have to re-open the book, Pane di casa nostra1 to be convinced: very often there surfaces a humanity made of great attention to others, of that love which is the essence of holiness.

 Reading his letters and the many testimonies puts us in touch with a Brother who was sensitive, intelligent, attentive to others, a Brother with bursts of humor, a natural and abundant gratitude, a very refined sense of responsibility. We see a heart filled with people and problems, especially when he turned to God and the Virgin Mary. Bro. Alfano was a man totally impregnated with God, Who was for him the source of peace and wisdom, the passion of his life.

 We are often tempted to copy his letters, so much do they reveal a saint. Through them there emerges the other Alfano, a very human mystic, very close, very attentive and faithful to friendships; the goodness of God, which he often preferred to call “the benignity of God,” radiated from his heart, enlightened and warmed others.

___________

Br. Alfano Vaser
So very human
Giovanni Bigotto, fms
01/2007 - PDF (2,6 MB)
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Celebrations

Celebration - 2009
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Celebration in Honour of Brother Alfano - 2004
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Celebration in Honour of Brother Alfano - 2003
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Celebration in Honour of Brother Alfano - 2002
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