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Luigi, a lawyer and civil servant, died in 1951 at the age of
71; Maria, who dedicated herself to her family and to several
charitable and social Catholic movements, died in 1965 at the
age of 81.
Stephania, their first daughter, now deceased, became a Benedictine
nun with the name Sr M. Cecilia. Both sons became priests; one
is now 95 years old, the other, 91. Another daughter, Enrichetta,
dedicated herself first to caring for her parents, then for her
brother. a diocesan priest of Rome; she is now in her 80s.
The Beltrame children recall that their parents led a simple
life, like that of many married couples, but always characterized
by a sense of the supernatural. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins,
Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that
they "made a true domestic church of their family, which
was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity
with the poor and to friendship".
Luigi was born on 12 January 1880 in Catania and grew up in Urbino.
Luigi's uncle, Luigi Quattrocchi, who was childless, asked Luigi
Beltrame's parents if he and his wife could raise the young Luigi
in their home. Though Luigi kept his ties with his parents and
siblings, he lived with his aunt and uncle, from whom he acquired
his second surname name. After his basic preparatory education,
he enrolled in the Faculty of Jurisprudence at "La Sapienza"
University in Rome. He obtained a degree in Law which enabled
him to enter the legal service of the Inland Revenue Department.
He went on to hold a number of posts on the boards of a variety
of banks and national reconstruction authorities like IRI and
the Bank of Italy, retiring as an honorary deputy attorney general
of the Italian State. He was a friend of many political figures,
such as Fr Luigi Sturzo, Alcide de Gasperi and Luigi Gedda, who
worked for Italy's rebirth after the Fascist period and World
His meeting with Maria Corsini in her family home in Florence
was to shape his future, as they were married on 25 November 1905
in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome.
Maria was born on 24 June 1884 in Florence to the noble Corsini
family. She received a solid cultural formation helped by her
family's involvement in the cultural life of the city of Florence.
She loved music and was a professor and writer on educational
topics as well as a member of several associations, including
Women's Catholic Action.
The couple had four children. One year after their wedding, Luigi
and Maria had their first son, Filippo. Then, Stefania and Cesare
were born. Filippo (today Don. Tarcisio) is a diocesan priest.
Cesare (Fr Paolino) left home in 1924 to become a Trappist monk.
Stefania, in 1927, entered the Benedictine cloister in Milan and
took the name Cecilia.
At the end of 1913, Maria was again expecting a child, her last,
Enrichetta. Because of her difficult pregnancy, the best gynecologists
advised her to have an abortion in order to "try to save
at least the mother". The possibility of survival then with
that diagnosis, was barely five per cent. Luigi and Maria refused
to do it; they put their whole trust in the Lord's Providence.
Maria's pregnancy was one of suffering and anguish. God responded
beyond all human hope and thus Enrichetta was born; both she and
her mother were safe,
This experience of faith clearly shows how the relationship between
husband and wife grew in Christian virtue, certainly helped by
attending Mass and receiving Holy Communion.
Before marriage, Luigi, though he was exceptionally virtuous,
honest and unselfish, did not have a strong faith.
Family life was never dull. There was always time for sports,
holidays by the sea and in the mountains. Their house was always
open to their numerous friends and those who knocked at their
door asking for food. During the Second World War their apartment
in Via Depretis, near St Mary Major, was a shelter for refugees.
Every evening they prayed the Rosary together and the family was
consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, solemnly placed on the
mantlepiece of their dining room. They also kept the family holy
hour on the eve of the first Friday of the month, and participated
in the night vigil prayer, weekend retreats organized by the Monastery
of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, as well as graduate religious courses
at the Pontifical Gregorian University, etc.
Maria, who took her maternal and household duties seriously,
also found time to pray and write, besides keeping up her demanding
apostolic activities, such as supporting the establishment of
the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart with Armida Barelli
and Fr Agostino Gemelli and taking part in the General Council
of the Italian Catholic Women's Association. She was a volunteer
nurse for the Red Cross during the war in Ethiopia and the Second
World War, catechist, UNITALSI volunteer with Luigi, and together
with him and her children, started a scout group for youth from
the poor parts of Rome. They were involved in several forms of
marriage and family apostolate.
In the midst of all of her busy daily activities, the flourishing
of the first three children's vocations took place, whose developments
were followed with love and firmness for a greater generosity
and faithfulness to the call of God. In addition, she was willing
to offer her fourth child, Enrichetta, to the Lord, if this were
asked of her. Then Maria together with her husband, Luigi, undertook
a programme for their total response to any call from God, which
in the end was the "difficult vow of the most perfect",
offered to the Lord in humble obedience to their spiritual father.
As is well-known, this vow means the renouncing of marital relations,
which the two decided together after 20 years of marriage, when
Luigi was 46 years old and Maria 41 (cf "Maria Corsini e
Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi", by Mons. F. Di Felice in L'Osservatore
Romano, Italian edition, 24 August 2001).
In November 1951, Luigi died of a heart attack in his home on
via Depretis. After 14 years as a widow, Maria joined Luigi. On
26 August 1965, she died in Enrichetta's arms at their house in
the mountains, at Serravalle. In 1993, their daughter, Sr Maria
Cecilia, was united to her parents,
They were a couple who knew how to love and respect each other
in the ups and downs of married and family life. They found in
the love of God the strength to begin again. They never lost heart
despite the negative part of family life: the tragedies of the
war, two sons as chaplains in the army, the German occupation
of Rome, and lived to see the reconstruction of Italy after the
war as they moved forward with the grace of God on the way of
heroic sanctity in ordinary life.
The cause for Beatification for Maria and Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi
was opened on 25 November 1994 and, on 21 October 2001, the Holy
Father John Paul II raised the married couple to the honour of
the altars. On 28 October 2001, the relics of Luigi and Maria
were transferred to their crypt in the Shrine of Divino Amore
(Divine Love) at Rome.