In memory of Vincenzo Maria Calvo


« … once fathers accompanied their children to take the train to go for military service, Today I go with the son of my old age to take the path of the priesthood ».



Author Father Ariel
Ariel S. Levi Gualdo




divo barsotti - old age
Father Divo Barsotti, in an image of old age

One day I visited Father Divo Barsotti at the House of the Children of God in Settignano Florence, eager to explore themes of ecclesiology and church history that were tied to my publication date then published years later. We were at the beginning of the year Two Thousand, I had 38 year old. Father Divo I listened carefully and showed me various texts; then looked into my eyes in a way that seemed the soul through me telling me in an unexpected way: "You become a priest '. Before that venerable priest avoided to replicate with a joke, and seriously answered: "Father, or she confuses me with another person, or maybe it is clear that the subject is me ». Smiled, and said almost mockingly retorted: "You can still escape, but not for long, because if the Lord decided to take, you take '.

divo barsotti - vechiaia 2
Father Divo Barsotti

For a matter of discretion I had left my girlfriend - But if I am honest I should say "my partner" of the moment - out of that religious house, thereby avoiding potential embarrassment related to questions quite legitimate, like for example if we were married, view our age: I am on the way to the forty years she beautiful girl of twenty. Came out of that house my - let's say - girlfriend, I wondered what impression I had made this man: answered that it was a person on top of all the rows, definitely a mystic, but perhaps a true visionary …

This hint is enough to explain that making a chronicle of my vocational journey would be long and complex thing, because we're not talking about a subject in a child entered the minor seminary and consecrated a priest at twenty-four, but a subject that - as my mother would say - "... has combined more than Carlo in France» (1).

Suddenly burst into my life the grace of God, before then atterrandomi risollevandomi; and lift me changed my mind and my thoughts, so my existence. Vocations of adults in particular and those of all in general, are recognized regardless of the age of various elements, the main one for me is the transformation: Only the grace of God, freely accepted and allowed to operate, can indeed change our character structure to prepare us to receive an indelible character and eternal: the priesthood.

memories …

Born in Tuscany and then lived in pleasure-seeking Emilia Romagna, a few weeks after that my encounter with the Father Divo Barsotti decided to move for an indefinite period in Syracuse, where from time to time I went in the summer and not only. Having the time and economic means revenue that could allow me a certain standard of living I bought a house in the heart of the Greek city, a few steps from the ancient Temple of Apollo, dedicating myself to publishing activities, journalism specialist and some consultancy work on which I do not enter as part of a life now dead and buried. I do not deny that I continued my life too young to be carefree, until the day in which, running with my bike on the stretch Catania-Siracusa, something that happened in the space of a few seconds completely subverted in my being and existence, but especially, from there a short, become my future. However, this is not the place to enter certain details, maybe I'll write in several years, when I am an old priest, analyzing myself as an external spectator, certainly not to talk to me, but the mystery of grace, the mystery of the vocation to the priesthood and the miracle of increasingly difficult: the miracle of faith and conversion, because to be able to realize God needs to meet the full freedom of man.

Mons. Vincenzo Calvo
Vincenzo Maria Calvo

Thus enters into my life the particular figure of Vincenzo Maria Calvo, presbyter Syracuse, man of great human experience, also adult vocation to the priesthood. Many would anecdotes to tell about this man with great wisdom and profound humor, I limit myself to what to tell the episode related to his appointment as rector of the Archdiocesan Seminary. The then Archbishop, after it is accepted as a candidate for the priesthood, sent him to study in Rome, not being able to enter the seminary an adult who was turning thirty years. He did enroll at the Gregorian University, then still Catholic, causing it to stay at a house priestly. Obviously we're talking about almost half a century ago, because today no one would call "adult vocation" one that begins the training for the priesthood in 29 years old. After consecrated priest three and half years after, the threshold of 34 years the archbishop made this proposal: "I have to appoint the vice rector of the seminary, you feel up to accept? In fondo, you've never done a day's seminar, could be an interesting experience ". The young man replied Father Vincenzo: "Excellence, I not promised, a few days ago, obedience to her and to all his successors?». That proposal was in fact a nomination as rector of the seminary, because the rector of the time was already ahead with age, so that within a short time the Father Vincenzo replaced him. Never have made the seminar “cost” so twenty long and happy years of seminary, because for two decades was rector of that house training, who left 24 years ago, after being hit by a stroke, becoming penitentiary of the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears.

Vincenzo Maria Calvo in the garden of the Marian shrine of Syracuse

After several years of path undertaken with the Father Vincenzo I was accepted as a candidate for holy orders by the then Bishop of San Marino-Montefeltro. So I left Syracuse, beloved adopted city in which I had received the gift of a vocation to the priesthood, to go to Rome, where for some years he would turn my training. Before leaving I made a solemn promise to the Father Vincenzo: "If God gives me the grace to become a priest, will celebrate his first Mass at the altar of Saint Lucia, virgin and martyr of Syracuse ». While we were traveling to the airport of Catania phoned to Bishop, to which Father Vincenzo said: « … we travel. Once fathers accompanied their children to take the train to go for military service, Today I go with the son of my old age to take the path of the priesthood ". In Rome, the bishop sent me at a pontifical university where I was admitted to specialized courses in dogmatic theology; and not being able to put a forty in a seminar, entrusted me to a priestly house. And so, the story of the father, was repeated again through his son …

Mons. Calvo and Ariel
Remember …

The universal Church celebrates the martyr of Syracuse 13 December, day of his martyrdom, the particular Church of the Syracuse also celebrates the first Sunday in May, also known as Saint Lucia quail (2). I received my ordination in Rome for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, May 1. The same evening I flew together with my mother to go to Syracuse to fulfill my vow happy, because that year the feast of Saint Lucia quail fell the day 2. The morning to 11 concelebrai Mass with the Archbishop of Syracuse Salvatore Pappalardo, with Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Costanzo and the Bishop of Caltagirone Calogero Peri who had received episcopal consecration one month before, and the priests in the church cathedral. The will alle ore 19 I celebrated my first Mass in the Church of Saint Lucia to the Abbey, presented by Father Vincenzo audience that filled the church.

memories …

During this Octave of Christmas Father Vincent asked me to administer the confession and a few days later, before Epiphany, I asked if I could administer the anointing of the sick; not because he was ill, but because ... "a touch of holy oil" - said in jest - "at my age never hurts anyone '.

The memories of our outputs accompany me in life, including our discussions. The one with the other we could tell delicacies colorful that it is not necessary to repeat, both characterized by a quality: the total absence of that spirit clerical there has never touched and for which we have always tried both Christian holy contempt.

memories …

At the age of 78 year old, the night of the day before and the day of Epiphany, Vincenzo Maria Calvo has passed from sleep to death. He found it in the morning, the rector of the Sanctuary, not seeing him arrive for the celebration of Mass 8.30 went to look for him in his room, where he found his lifeless body. What the Father Vincenzo and I have said a couple of days before remains sealed in my heart. He's gone so serene as aware that the situation in the Church today is in fact imbued with dramatic implications. Just Saturday night, going to dinner at the dear friends who have a farm in the nature reserve of the necropolis of Pantalica, I told him: "You've already 78 year old, I Have just turned 51. Considering the time I sometimes wonder: if I arrive at your age, I'll have to see what?». I replied: "We hope to make the big bang as soon as possible, so that we can start as soon as possible to build from scratch over the rubble ». On one thing, however, we have always agreed at the end of our squabbles: on hope. When in fact long ago he read an article about my own theology of hope [see which], mi said: "Just so I'm happy to have you driven to the priesthood".

speakers romanaThis evening I went to the prayer vigil, and although the air was cool I have not worn the dress talale winter but that by midseason; cassock he gave me before my ordination to the diaconate, inside which is a small embroidered written inside flap of the pocket: "Gift of Father Vincenzo». Today at the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears in Syracuse will celebrate his funeral obsequies. With me there will be my dear pupil, one of which today I am a father, while the Father Vincenzo, who was the father of the father, was his grandfather; because history repeats itself for the mystery of grace, through us priests that we send each other the divine gift of fatherhood pastoral, on the way to His Kingdom which has no end.




(1) The expression "make the most of Charles in France", It means combinarne of all colors and stems from the life of Charlemagne who had among other least 6 could email 20 children.
(2) The feast of Saint Lucia quail is held annually, the first Sunday in May. The event commemorates a miracle that took place during the terrible famine that struck in Syracuse 1646. The people, exhausted from lack of food, gathered in prayer around his Patron Saint. Following the prayers came shortly after a fleet of ships loaded with grain, which was announced by the flight of a flock of quails.


Vincenzo Calvo 1






About Padre Ariel

Ariel S. Levi di Gualdo Presbitero e Teologo ( Click on the name to read all its articles )

One thought on "In memory of Vincenzo Maria Calvo

  1. The ways of the Lord will appear at odd times, enmesh, tangled. As the skein of our life is unraveled discover that everything is linked by a single thread ... one of His charity and His Grace. Thanks, Father, for sharing with us, Also this time humanly painful, but spiritually glorious for his teacher and edifying for all of us.

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