Cause for canonization of quadriplegic lay evangelist advances 

Servant of God Nino Baglieri Servant of God Nino Baglieri. | Credit: ANS/Salesians

The diocesan phase of the cause of beatification of the Servant of God Nino Baglieri has been closed in Modica, a town in southern Sicily. Overcoming his bitterness due to his quadriplegic condition, Baglieri gave himself to the mission of evangelizing through the means available to him. 

The closing of the diocesan phase, according to the Salesian News Agency, took place on Sunday, May 5, in Mother of St. Peter church, where a solemn Eucharist was celebrated by Salvatore Rumeo, the bishop of Noto. In his homily, the prelate related that on May 5, 1951, Baglieri received baptism, “becoming a Christian.”

Regarding the servant of God, he emphasized that “prayer for Nino was everything: Despite his suffering, like a light that shines and burns, he managed to infect others with the meaning of true prayer.”

Addressing the servant of God in prayer, Rumeo said: “We are grateful to you for your evangelical teaching, because in your life we see the movement of God’s grace that continues to speak to us about holiness.”

The diocesan phase concluded with the sealing of eight packets containing all the information and testimonies compiled about the life and work of Baglieri. Also present were the ninth successor of Don Bosco, Father Pascual Chávez, and the Salesian postulator, Father Pierluigi Cameroni.

All documentation now goes to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican for analysis.

Who was Nino Baglieri?

According to the Salesians, Baglieri was born in Modica in 1951. In his youth he worked as a bricklayer until on May 6, 1968, the feast of St. Dominic Savio, at the age of 17, he fell from a scaffold and became completely paralyzed. He then spent many dark years full of bitterness, only able to move his head.

The Salesian Bulletin Don Bosco in Central America indicates that it was suggested to his mother that she have her son euthanized with “a simple injection” to end his suffering, but she responded: “As long as I live I will take care of him.”

On Good Friday 1978, some members of a group called Renewal in the Spirit came to his house to pray for him. As he felt a warmth flooding his body, ”a new force entered me and something old came out. I accepted my cross and said yes to the Lord,” he said, knowing that there would be no physical healing but rather a spiritual one. Baglieri then began a process of conversion, accepting his cross and reading the Bible.

He learned to write using his mouth and began to write his memoirs as well as letters that he sent to people in various parts of the world.

“Thanks to a stick, he dials telephone numbers and comes into direct contact with many sick people, and his calm and convincing words console them,” the Salesians related.

Nino joined the Salesian Cooperators but then decided to be part of the Volunteers with Don Bosco, consecrated laymen who profess vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, living their Salesian mission in their homes, work, and the everyday things of this world.

Baglieri was characterized by proclaiming with his life testimony joy and hope in the Lord. After suffering for a long time, which he bore with a smile, he died on March 2, 2007.

According to his wish, he was buried wearing sneakers because, as he said: “On my last journey to God I will be able to run to him.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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