Saint Luigi Orione was born in Piedmont, Northern Italy, at Pontecurone, a village near Tortona on June 23, 1872. The young Luigi felt he wanted to be a priest and joined the Franciscans, but had to leave due to ill health. He was welcomed by St. John Bosco, but left the Salesians after a few years to become a seminarian in his own Diocese of Tortona.
While still a student, he started his life long work for those he loved most, namely the poor. He catechised a small group of boys and they followed him very much as children now follow priests, brothers and sisters as they go about their work. Don Orione drew people to himself throughout his life. They came to be with him; some to help him, others to be helped.
Don Orione loved everybody but the poor, the young, the elderly, the sick and people with disabilities were his special friends.
His apostolate embraces different types of work. In the British Isles at the time of his canonization in 2004 the Sons of Divine Providence ran several care homes for the elderly and people with learning disabilities, day centers and independent housing establishments. They have also founded and run missions in Kenya and Jordan for a number of years. In 2002 they founded a mission in India.
Throughout the world the apostolate includes schools, hostels for workers, hospitals, homes for the elderly, the disabled, the sick and the blind, learning centers, parishes and missions.
The artifact is a letter written entirely in Luigi Orione’s own hand.
The ideal of Don Orione’s life was to live and to die for the spiritual welfare of people, serving Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Mother Church and its head, the Pope. His motto was, Do good always, to all, evil to none.
He travelled far and wide, started new foundations at home and abroad and followed their progress. He died in Italy on 12th March 1940 after sending a loving message to the Pope. His last words were, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. His body is incorrupt and can be venerated in Tortona.
At his canonization on May 16, 2004, Pope John Paul II said of him,
Passion for Christ was the soul of his bold life, the interior thrust of an altruism without reservations, the always fresh source of an indestructible hope. This humble son of a man who repaired roads proclaimed that only charity will save the world, and to everyone he would also say that perfect joy can only be found in perfect dedication of oneself to God and man, and to all mankind.