Luigi Versiglia was born at Oliva Gessi (Pavia) on 5th June 1873. He came to Don Bosco’s Oratory when he was twelve years old and went on to become a Salesian Priest. After his ordination in 1895 he spent ten years as novice master at Genzano di Roma. In 1906 he led the first Salesian missionary expedition to China, fulfilling a prophecy often repeated by Don Bosco. Once he had established a ‘mother house’ in Macau, he opened a mission in the area of Shiu Chow. He became its first bishop on 22nd April 1920.
He was a man of wisdom and tireless energy, a real shepherd totally dedicated to his flock. He gave his Vicariate a solid infrastructure with a seminary, houses of formation, various residences, an orphanage and old people’s homes. He was more of a father than an authoritarian. He led by his example of hard work and Christian love and never asked people to do anything without first weighing up their capabilities.
On 25th February 1930 he was with Don Caravario and five others, all young people, on the way to visit the small Christian Community at Lin Chow (Li Tau Tseu). They were stopped by a group of armed men, who first demanded protection money and then made to take away the three women in the party. Don Versiglia and Don Caravario stood in their way and were knocked to the ground and tied up. Their crucifixes were ripped away and, as they prayed, they were shot dead.
Don Versiglia and Don Caravario were canonized by Pope John Paul II on 1st October 2000 and their Feast Day is on 13th November, which is the day on which each Salesian Community celebrates Mass for deceased benefactors and members of the Salesian Family.
Biography Provided By: Salesians of Don Bosco UK
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