The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Father Charles Dominic Albini

Venerable Carlo Domenico AlbiniThe Congregation of Missionary Oblates of the Immaculate Virgin Mary has justly petitioned for the beatification of one of its members, Charles Dominic Albini. The servant of God was a popular missionary distinguished by his personal holiness and his self-sacrificing zeal for souls and glorified by God with miracles both before and after his death.

Before his entrance into the Congregation, Charles Albini was for nine years vicar in his native town of Mentone in the principality of Monaco, and for two years longer, professor of moral theology and director of the seminary at Nizza. At that time (1824), the founder of the Congregation of Oblates, Eugene de Mazenod, with his companions, was conducting a mission at Nizza. Albini became intimately acquainted with this zealous man and was soon quite captivated by his manner of life. He had himself been successful in mission work, especially at Mentone. But it was only after repeated petitions and with a heavy heart that the bishop of Nizza gave Albini permission to enter the Oblates. “If I had four priests like Don Albini,” wrote the bishop to the founder, “my diocese would be transformed. Only on condition that he may later on work here as a missionary, will I let him go.”

The penitential spirit of the servant of God may be seen from the fact that after entering the Congregation he could not be permitted to practise all the forms of penance he had hitherto used. Superiors were soon so convinced of Albini’s virtue that they shortened his noviceship and permitted him after a few months to make his vows. They were not deceived. Albini had unusual success in giving missions to the people, although he spoke French only imperfectly. It was not long before he became famed as a wonder-worker. For a time he had to interrupt his missions and to lecture on moral theology at the seminary of Marseilles, which was in charge of the Oblates.

The culminating point of Albini’s activity was during the last four years of his life, 1835-1839, as a missionary on the island of Corsica. The bishop of Ajaccio desired the Oblates for the upbuilding of his clergy as well as for the spiritual regeneration of his neglected diocese. This was a field of labor that suited Father Albini. The people of Corsica were strongly impressed by his preaching and a notable improvement in morals followed. In many places it needed but a word from the servant of God to produce a radical change. Many miraculous events were connected with the appearance of the missionary, so that he became known throughout the island as “the Saint” – a title no one ever contradicted. His companion, Father Guibert, afterward cardinal-archbishop of Paris, wrote: “It is enough to see Father Albini to be impressed with the idea of a saint – of a man who, lost to everything earthly, lives only for heaven, and this without singularity or pretense but with unaffected simplicity and humility.

Unfortunately the zealous missionary was soon to end his journeying. He died at the age of forty-eight on 20 May 1839, at Vico, in Corsica. The activity of the saints, however, is often richer in blessing after their death, and this appears to be true of Charles Albini.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916