The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Justin de Jacobis

detail from an Italian holy card of Saint JustinAnother true vir apostolicus was the Venerable Justin de Jacobis, Lazarist, bishop of Nicopolis. Justin, born on October 9, 1800, at San Fele, a town near Melfi, in the province of Potenza, Italy, had the fiery temperament of the genuine Southerner. But his pious parents knew how to inspire his lively spirit with the beauty of true ideals alone. At eighteen he joined the Lazarists in Naples, became priest in 1824, then superior in Lecce and finally novice-master. His sermons had great power in attracting souls. They were, indeed, very simple and without rhetorical display, but they came from the heart and therefore went to the heart. They had that supernatural persuasiveness which is peculiar to the words of the saints and this is why they worked such astonishing conversions. It was a great joy to the servant of God when in 1839 the ardent longing of his youth to preach the Gospel to the pagans was brought to fulfillment. He was sent to Abyssinia as prefect-apostolic. God’s blessing rested visibly on his labors; many heretics returned to the Church. When he was appointed bishop of Nicopolis in 1847, he refused for fourteen months to accept this dignity and afterward he sought when possible to conceal the insignia of his rank.

By the contrivance of the schismatical bishop, the prefect-apostolic was put in fetters and imprisoned by the emperor Theodore. Such was his reputation for holiness, however, that the tyrant dared not put him to death, and five months later, still in chains, he was transported across the frontier. But it was not long before the pastor returned to his flock. He took up his abode in a secluded village and journeyed unweariedly to find his scattered sheep. His death was quite like that of his great model, Saint Francis Xavier. He died on 31 July 1860, during one of his apostolic journeys, under the shade of a tree in a vast plain, his head resting upon a stone. Even the heretics and the Mohammedans disputed for his body. Remarkable miracles occurred when his remains were brought away in the year 1889. The preliminary process is surpassingly rich in miracles. The apostolic process began in 1905.

– 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

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Justin de Jacobis”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 February 2018. Web. 21 October 2020. <>