De Donatis said Friday, the day before the feast of Our Lady of Trust, to whom Giaquinta had a strong devotion, that the Servant of God lived a simple, even “ascetic” lifestyle, and offered “an authentic evangelization of the Gospel.”
“His witness of ordinary holiness in daily life and of how radical availability to God’s grace can transform one’s heart and the whole world is a witness we need,” Jessi Kary, an apostolic oblate and the national director of Pro Sanctity in the United States, told CNA via email.
“His life can draw priests more deeply into the heart of the priestly vocation and help them discover more deeply how to receive from the source, Christ the Priest,” she said.
“Bishop Giaquinta also assists the laity in discovering the amazing invitation to become a saint,” she continued, “and very practical ways in which to respond to that call in the ordinary circumstances of daily life.”
Born in Noto, Sicily, in 1914, Giaquinta was a mischievous child. One episode from his childhood he would often recount is wanting to collect stamps to send to people in Africa, and how he would skip school to do it.
The truancy got him in trouble with his father, who decided to send him to a high school seminary to be taught by priests. This moment marked a turning point for Giaquinta, who said, “at the instant that I entered the door of that school, I knew with certainty that I had to become a priest. It was a certainty that never left me. It was a mystery of the priestly vocation.”
He was ordained in 1939, offering his first Mass the next day, on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, who became an important saint in his life.
The young priest began his ministry in the Diocese of Rome and took on some duties at the vicariate.
Giaquinta would wake up at 4 a.m. every day to spend three to four hours in study and prayer.
He would also often spend up to five hours a day hearing confessions, as people would form long lines to wait to receive the sacrament from him.
Recognizing time as a gift from God, the priest was known to not waste it. Once, speaking to his spiritual daughters, he said that time “is the money of the poor, you must spend it for the good of souls.”
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“Redemptive Love and the Thirst of Christ are two themes at the heart of the charism and spirituality entrusted to Bishop Giaquinta,” Kary said.
“He discovered within himself the Thirst of Jesus for souls to know and receive the infinite love of the Father,” she said. “Bishop Giaquinta lived his life attentive to this thirst he shared with Christ, striving to quench the thirst of all those he encountered with the life-giving water Jesus offers.”
In 1968, at the age of 54, Giaquinta was appointed bishop of Tivoli, a diocese close to Rome.
People who knew Bishop Giaquinta have described him as a meek and humble person, an approachable and down-to-earth father figure.
He did not keep a strict schedule for his diocesan duties but was always available to anyone who walked through his doors. He was also an extraordinary teacher. He left behind volumes of writings, including on the theme of holiness, which he emphasized was for everyone.
Even before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, Fr. Giaquinta was thinking and preaching about the important role of the laity in the Catholic Church.