Blessed Dominic Lentini was born in Lauria and always lived there. Life for him stopped there. This already says a great deal: people can and ought to become saints in their own space of life and work. He moved from Lauria on account of his studies to the Seminary of Policastro and also as a Priest on account of his preaching in the surrounding towns. The towns he preached in were within the confines of the Noce Valley, the Gulf of Policastro and of Mercure. (N.B. These territories are all situated further south than Naples). These were not great historical centers, but rather they had luminous traces of Faith and of Saints such as St.Telesphorus of Thurio, St.Nilo of Rossano, St.Francis of Paola. They are places of Ikons, Santuaries, Degrees and Grottos, where myriads of hermits, like St.Saba, have lived and taught about the search for God.
To these lands of faith, there comes from Paris the earthquake or the Revolution of the Luminaries. We shall see these in details in the section: His times.
Chosen on account of the Man of Paris.
God permits us to be laymen even against his Laws because he has respect for the liberty given to men. But the Paris of the Luminaries goes further: even beyond the prodigal son, who, in his mistakes, knows that he has a Father who loves him, weeps and waits for him.
Whereas at Paris there is born what the Gospel calls the son of perdition . Before God he is lost whoever is without God. This man, without God and without a Father, is born at Paris. And he is solemnly born on the day of Pentecost on the 8th of June 1794, when Robespierre elevated on the square the statue to the Godess Reason as the only symbol and cult of modern man. On that same day - faraway from Lauria, because the diocese of Policastro was then without a Bishop - the Deacon don Dominic Lentini goes through the Sirino mountains to town of Marsico Nuovo to receive his Priestly Ordination from Mons. Bernardo Maria Latorre.
Someone will say: these are casual dates. Whoever does not believe can say so. But in God everything is computerised in his Great Book . Time is his and his means to confound the Great are little and poor ones.
Well then, the little Fr Dominic from Lauria was chosen by God as a voice that cries out and expiates for this son of Perdition who from Paris, with his false laymanship and rationalism, has entered - and continues even more so today - into every corner and sector of the world and of the Church itself. Nowadays there is not a window which has not the flag of No to God , of a total atheism, be it scientific or practical.
In the section He still speaks, Lentini is called the Son and Servant of the Cross to indicate that God has chosen him for this design of His - of love and forgiveness - also this our history of children of perdition.
Lentini was the Son of the Cross in his humble earthly life and he was so with a priestly sanctity which will be told about in the section Solely Spiritual: solely life of the Spirit.
As the Saint and Servant of the Cross, he knew how to be Servant of the Cross among his people, among the young with the Spirit Congregations, in his preaching, and with his little ones: This was a sort of Sodality of 30 persons who throughout the whole month took turns to console his dear and weeping Mother of Sorrows.
Brief tracts of his life
A saint in a simple but holy family
At the shoulders of the Armo mountain, on the righthand bank of the Cafaro river the Lentini married couple lived: Macario Lentini and Rosaly Vitarella (= his mother's maiden name). The Lentini clan were originally of Silician origin. They appear in the documents of notaries around 1500. At the time of our future Blessed they were, moreover well-off and others less so. Macario, the shoe-maker, was among the latter and with five children: Dominique, Rose, Nicholas, Antoinette and Dominic, who was the last to be born on 20 November in 1770. His first two sisters married early on. Antoinette remains close to the future Priest Don Dominic (as his housekeeper) and follows him to heaven on 28.8.1830. Nicholas, was called Samson, and he too marries and moves to the town of Fardella, but while he was in Lauria he was the samson of the Lentini house and of the neighbouring district.
The Cafaro zone (where the Lentinis lived) is the true historical center of the Upper Quarter of Lauria and it is full of tiny churches: St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Veneranda, St. Lucy with St. Paschal and higher up the Sanctuary of the Assumption: which is the most evocative and frequented. It was here that his saintly mother consecrates him to the Heavenly Mother and asking Her: I want My Dominic to be holy and old. Such was the religious spirit that Rosaly had learned in her family that her own brother was a Priest: Don Dominic Vitarella. Poor Rosaly nevertheless would soon leave little Dominic as an orphan.
Towards the Priesthood
Little Dominic, though not being like his brother Nicholas, was also vivacious and raids the trees in search of birds. For such a childish prank he later wants to make reparation as an adult. The turning-point comes when he starts to go to cathechism in the church of St. Nicholas. His fellow students were Nicholas Giordano, the surgeon (see: the section on Sacrifices) and Joseph Ielpo, with whom he decided to enter the Seminary. Joseph turns out to be the preferred confessor of Don Dominic quotes Pisani, his biographer: and the joy of administering Extreme Unction to Lentini on 22.2.1828, falls to him. Joseph was the first to go to the Seminary of Policastro. Dominic followed him, at 14 years of age, the following year. He remained there only for two years because at the request of the Noblemen of Lauria and in consideration for the economic difficulties of his father Macario, don Dominic continues his studies at Lauria in the Parish and he opens a school in his house for the youth.
His father's joy
When his father Macario knew about his son's desire to enter the seminary, he not only did not oppose it, but like St. Joseph of Nazareth, he put himself at the disposition of his son's future mission. There was not the money to allow him to study. There was, nonetheless, his modest house and he pawned it to allow his son to enter the Seminary. What an example of self-sacrifice! Later on it falls to don Dominic to redeem it from its debts. His father Macario's joy was great when his son Dominic was ordained Priest on 8 June 1794 at Marsico by Mons. La Torre. Like old Simeon, he too could recite his nunc dimittis of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord and about two years later he rejoins his dear Rosaly in heaven leaving his chosen son Dominic to travel the holy and mysterious roads of his Priesthood on his own.
Rich only in his Priesthood
Fr Dominic, full of joy for having attained his goal, does not ask for - nor want anything else: he will be only, always and in everything a Priest! A Priest to praise the Most High. A Priest to make Jesus known and loved. A Priest to celebrate worthily the Living Mystery of the Cross. A Priest to make reparation and to sacrifice himself for sinners. A Priest to console the Mother of Sorrows. A Priest to cry out like Elijah against those times of spreading perdition for the faith and on account of the customs coming from the luminaries: the strong spirits, as he calls them. A Priest for men, for the peace of the region and in families. A Priest for youth. A Priest for the sick. A Priest for the poor. A Priest who makes of his poor house the bread house for whoever knocks there. A house, which is its littleness, becomes even a college for anyone faraway, who wants to frequent his school.
Of the Martyrs it is said: Praedicavi martirem, praedicavi satis! (I have preached martyrdom, I have preached enough!) Such being the case it will be beautiful for the Church, when it will be able to be said of the Priest of Christ: I have spoken about a Priest of Christ, I have said everything! This utopia for the Church, Lentini has realized and ratified with a martyr's death on the evening of 24 February 1828 at about 20.30. The two Popes who glorified him, Pius XI for his Heroic Virtues (27/1/35) and John Paul for his Beatification (12/10/97), will exalt the greatness of his Priesthood: Sacerdote sine adiunctis! (a Priest without equal) Rich only in his Priesthood!
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