Let me be intoxicated with the cross
The Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini was a devoted and hardworking man who has left an extraordinary legacy—ongoing pastoral and spiritual support for migrants around the world.
In 1998, John Paul II declared him Blessed and defined him as the Father of Migrants.
It has been suggested that his motto should be: Fac me cruce inebriari—let me be intoxicated with the cross, from the Stabat Mater, to recognise his great humility and piety.
Minister to the needy
Scalabrini in his time as Bishop of Piacenza worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged and needy. He ministered to all that needed help ranging from
cholera victims to bankrupted nobility. He sold his horse, chalice, and pectoral cross (given to him by the Blessed Pope Pius IX) to buy food for farmers and workers suffering under famine.
He established organisations to assist in the care of workers. These included an institute to help hearing and speech-impaired women, mutual aid societies, workers‘ associations, rural banks, cooperatives, and Catholic Action groups.
Father of Migrants
Giovanni Battista Scalabrini witnessed the hardships of the mass exodus of Italian migrants who travelled to the United States during the last decades of the nineteenth century. He saw the need for a network of spiritual, pastoral and specific care for these migrants. He was also a strong advocate for
legislation and institutions to protect migrants against exploitation.
He founded the Congregation of the Missionary Priests and the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo. Their initial mission was to maintain Catholic faith and practice among Italian emigrants in the New World.
Today, known as the Scalabrinian Fathers and the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, they minister to migrants, seafarers, refugees and displaced persons in many countries around the world including Australia.