Blessed Genaro Sarnelli

Birth: September 12 (Naples, Italy)
Death: June 30, 1744, (Naples, Italy)
Beatification: 1996
Feast: June 30

Genaro Sarnelli was born in Naples on September 12, 1702. Son of Baron of Ciorani, he had a solid cultural and spirituall formation. Dedicating himself to the study of jurisprudence, he gained a doctorate in civil and canon law at the age of twenty. Caring for the sick in the Hospital for the Incurables, he felt the call to the priesthood. During this time he also came to know Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, who was his first biographer.

Ordained a priest in 1732, he dedicated himself especially to the catechesis of young boys and to the rehabilitation of girls at risk of becoming prostitutes. In June of the following year, he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded by Alphonsus Maria de Liguori on the ninth of November, 1732. He dedicated himself to the preaching of the Word of God to those who were most destitute of spiritual help.

For reasons of health, in 1736, he returned to Naples, where, while continuing the missionary activity in the Redemptorist Congregation, he took up again his previous pastoral and charitable activities, especially among the sick, the old, those in prison and the young boys forced to work as dock-laborers. He also initiated a fervent movement against the spread of prostitution.

A prodigious writer, he published more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects: socio-juridical studies, moral issues, mysticism, pedagogy, pastoral practice, Mariology and ascetical theology. In 1741 he organized and took part in the great mission among the spiritually abandoned areas on the outskirts of Naples. Spent by his burning zeal, he died in Naples on June 30, 1744, at the age of forty-two. John Paul Il beatified him on May 12,