The Family as Domestic Church: The Quattrocchi’s Are a Contemporary Case Study

Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi understood the need to nurture faith in their young children, and integrated prayer into the daily routine in their family.

Born in Italy in the early 1880s, the couple married in November 1905 in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.  Luigi was a lawyer and civil servant; Maria dedicated herself to her family, while volunteering for a number of charitable and social Catholic movements.

The Quattrocchis had four children.  Filippo, the eldest, became a diocesan priest, becoming known by the name of Don Tarcisio.  Cesare, the second son, left home in 1924 to become a Trappist monk, taking the name of Fr. Paolino.  Stefania entered the Benedictine cloister in Milan and took the name Cecilia.

In 1913, Maria became pregnant a fourth time; but because of complications during the difficult pregnancy, the gynecologists urged her to have an abortion in hope of “at least saving the mother.”   Luigi and Maria refused to abort their child, even though the possibility of survival then with that diagnosis was just five per cent.  Although Maria’s suffering was great, they chose, instead, to trust in God.  The child did survive, and her grateful parents named her Enrichetta.  Although Enrichetta did not enter religious life as her older brothers and sister had done, she devoted her life to carrying, first, for her aging parents, and then for her priest brother.

Luigi and Maria’s loving family is an example of heroic sanctity in everyday life—a portrait of love and respect through the ups and downs of marriage.  On November 25, 1994, the cause for Beatification for Maria and Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi was opened.  Just seven years later—on October 21, 2001—Pope John Paul II beatified the couple, the first married couple to be so recognized by the Church for their sanctity.  On October 28 of that year, the remains of Luigi and Maria were transferred to the crypt in Rome’s Shrine of Divino Amore (Divine Love).

A PRAYER FOR FAMILY LIFE

Dear Lord, with Mary and Joseph, you have lived within a family;
Teach me always to appreciate the precious gift of being part of a family.
Show me ever new ways to protect and comfort those closest to me, and
Let me, each day, do something that will say ‘I love you’ without speaking the words.
But remind me also to frequently say those words.
Let me never part from any member of my family in anger.
Prompt me always to turn back without delay – to forgive, and be forgiven.
And let me see your image within each person
in my own family, and in my greater family,
Knowing that in your Kingdom, we will truly be one family,
United by your sacrifice on the cross.
Amen.

From Fr. Tommy Lane, S.S.L., S.T.D.