Blessed Artemide Zatti was born on 12 October 1880 in Italy, and died on 15 March 1951 at Viedma, Argentina. As a Salesian religious brother, he became a saint by running a hospital and pharmacy for the sick poor for 40 years in Viedma, Argentina. In 1897, when Artemide was 17 years old, his family emigrated from Reggio Emilia to join Artemide's uncle who had a good job in Bahía Blanca, Argentina. There they found steady work and a livelihood. In his "new life" in Argentina, Artemide worked in a hotel and then in a brick factory. On Sundays the Zatti family faithfully assisted at Mass and other activities in the parish of the Salesian Fathers who in 1890 set up a community in Bahía Blanca. With true apostolic spirit, Artemide used his free time to help the Salesian parish priest in his parish activities and, especially, in visiting the sick.
He was inspired by the life of Don Bosco and by the Salesian priests and felt called to imitate him. In 1900 when he was 19, the Salesians accepted him as a student for the priesthood. But he had great difficulty with the studies since he had left elementary school long before. Also, during the novitiate, Artemide contracted a severe case of TB from taking care of a young priest who was a TB victim. In 1902 Artemide was forced to leave the house of studies to seek a cure in the pure air of Viedma, a city located high in the Andes. Little did he realize that Viedma was going to be his city for the rest of his life. Along with the healthy climate, in Viedma there was a hospital and pharmacy attached to the Salesian College run by Fr Evaristo Garrone, a priest and physician who was known for his empirical approach to medicine. Fr Evaristo was also known for his trust in God's Providence; he never turned away the poor who could not pay. Under the guidance of Fr Garrone, Artemide made a promise to Our Lady, Help of Christians, that if she would obtain a cure for him, he would serve the sick poor for the rest of his life. When he was cured, he promptly continued his training as a Salesian religious brother. In 1908 he was professed and began his mission alongside Fr Garrone. When Fr Garrone died in 1911, Artemide was put in charge of the pharmacy and the hospital. He was a trained pharmacist, nurse, operating-room assistant, as well as juggler of finances and head of personnel. He followed Fr Garrone's rule that "he who has little, pays little and the one who has nothing pays nothing". In running the hospital, Artemide also depended entirely on Providence and the generosity of the people. In his 40 years of dedicated service, he found in his religious life with its periods of prayer and community life the secret of balancing the daily tasks of administering the hospital and pharmacy, taking care of patients inside and outside the hospital. Despite the demands of the sick and the needs of the hospital, Artemide was known for his "Salesian joy", a sign of his holiness for those around him. He was "not only provider of medicine, but was himself a medicine for others by his presence, his songs, his voice ...".
In 1913 he was the force behind the building of a new hospital which was demolished in 1941 when the spot was taken as the residence of the bishop of the newly-founded diocese.
In July 1950, after falling off a ladder that he was climbing to get on the roof to fix a leaky water tank, Artemide was forced to take a period of rest and recovery. After a few months the doctors diagnosed his livid skin colour as a serious cancer of the liver. He was sick from January to March. He died on 15 March 1951. His mortal remains repose in the chapel of the Salesians at Viedma.
Bl. Artemide lived what St John Bosco said to the first Salesians leaving for America: "Take special care of the sick, the children, the elderly, the poor, and you will receive God's blessing and the respect of those around you".
Bl. Artemides Zatti*15-Mar
November 27, 2014Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
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