Blessed Paolo Manna: tomorrow is liturgical commemoration

15 January 2024

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Tomorrow is liturgical commemoration  and the anniversary of birth of Blessed Paolo Manna 16/1/1872), founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU). "The path of Blessed Paolo Manna is a process of constant conversion, at the same time Christian and missionary. This path was not without suffering, trials and crises, but whoever trusts and entrusts themselves to the Lord will always emerge stronger, renewed in Spirit, more "converted" to God", explains the General Secretary of PMU.
At the age of 22, Father Paolo Manna, who had just been ordained a priest, went to Burma (modern-day Myanmar), where he "scattered the seeds" of the Gospel among the Ghekkú tribe; however, he fell ill and had to return to Italy. During the twelve years of his missionary work he returned to Italy three times for serious health reasons; In 1907, to his great regret, he stayed there for the last time.
"In 1907, Father Manna described himself as a 'failed missionary'; at the age of 35 he had returned from Burma to Italy for the third time for health reasons (he suffered from tuberculosis). He had dreamed of a mission among non-Christians and was rejected.
"This is one of the decisive moments in his life: there was no longer room for him in the missionary institute (at that time the elderly and sick returned to the dioceses where they had been incardinated)," we can read in the text of Father Piero Gheddo "Un contemplativo in anzione" ("A contemplative in action"), published by PMU: "In the summer of 1908, Father Paolo went to Lourdes and asked the Virgin, to whom he was very devoted, not for physical healing, nor to see clearly in his future; he asked for the love of Jesus and Mary, for holiness and purity for himself, for eternal salvation for himself and everyone he loved. As for his future as a 'failed missionary', he abandons himself to divine Providence. One cannot understand Father Manna without starting from his absolute, indissoluble faith, nourished by deep prayer: the fundamental quality of his life was the holiness that sustained him in the many trials and sufferings he experienced".
The conversion of Paolo Manna and that of St. Paul are therefore the focus of another moment of prayer organized by PMU on Tuesday, January 23, with a Mass and a missionary sermon before the priests of the Collegio San Paolo.