On 25th February, we honour the Salesian Saints, Louis Versiglia and Callistus Caravario, martyred on this day in 1930.
Louis was born in Oliva Gessi (Pavia) on June 5, 1873. Although his devotion from childhood led people to believe he would be a priest, his first ambition was to become a vet. After meeting Don Bosco when he was twelve, he later discovered his vocation, with a special hope of going to the missions.
He led a group of six Salesians who arrived in China in 1906. In 1918, the Salesians received the mission of Shiuchow from the Vicar Apostolic of Canton, and on January 9, 1921, Fr Versiglia was consecrated its bishop.
Callistus Caravario was born at Cuorgné, in the province of Turin, on June 18, 1903. He entered the novitiate and became a Salesian. In 1922, Bishop Versiglia was in Turin and spoke of the missions to the Brothers. Callistus told him: "Bishop, you will see me in China."
After travelling as a missionary for a few years, in May 18, 1929, Callistus returned to Shiuchow, where bishop Versiglia ordained him priest and entrusted him with the mission at Linchow.
On February 13, 1930, Fr Caravario was in Shiuchow to accompany the bishop on his pastoral visit to the Linchow mission. Some young boys and girls who had been studying in Shiuchow went with them. On February 25, a group of Bolshevik pirates stopped the bishop’s boat, wanting to take the girls. Bishop Versiglia and Fr Callistus stopped them. They were taken by force and ultimately shot, but before they were killed they heard one another’s confessions. Their last breath was spent for their beloved China.
Pope Paul VI declared them martyrs in 1976, John Paul II declared them Blessed in 1983 and canonized them on October 1, 2000.
Source: Salesian Missions