The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Father Paul Capelloni

Father Paul CapelloniThe renown of the old Jesuit missionaries was renewed in the Venerable Paul Capelloni. He was a Roman by birth and after a youth of innocence was ordained priest in 1801 at the age of twenty-five. His first position was that of tutor in the house of Marquis Vitelleschi, whose sons remained grateful to Capelloni during his whole lifetime. They used to call him “the angelic teacher.” At the same time Capelloni maintained a considerable activity in the care of souls, especially in II Gesu, where he labored in union with the former Jesuits. The year 1809 brought him exile, for he refused the oath commanded by the French. He went to Reate, where the Vitelleschi family gave him refuge. Reate had reason to rejoice in the coming of this fugitive. A heavenly and imperishable gift was given them in his virtuous example and untiring zeal.

Paul Capelloni was one of the first to enter the restored Society of Jesus in 1814. He was of great service to the Order in those days and was soon ready for apostolic work. The charge of the church of Saint Vitalis was entrusted to him, then for a long time he labored in Ferrentino and conducted many missions there. In 1820 he was stationed at the new Gesu in Naples, where he remained until his death. Here he had his heart’s desire – abundance of labor for the glory of God. Only prudence and obedience could induce him to spare his strength. In a masterly way he promoted discipline and good order among the soldiers, whose chaplain he was.

He spared no pains to inspire the people with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Conception, and in honor of the former, he solemnly celebrated every First Friday at the new Gesu. His joy in having lived until the day on which the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was made a dogma of Faith was exceedingly great. At the breaking out of the Revolution in 1848, he was compelled to fly from Naples, finding refuge in the Island of Malta; but this involuntary exile was not a time of rest for him. There were sinners to convert in Malta and men to instruct on the purpose of their existence.

In spite of his ceaseless activity Father Capelloni reached the age of eighty-one. He died at Naples on 15 October 1857; and after his death his body was exposed three days for the veneration of the people, and on the seventh day there was a solemn public funeral. When the tomb was opened fifteen months afterward the body was found incorrupt. He was later entombed in the Chapel of Saint Francis Jerome.

– 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