Francesco Antonio Marcucci biography
Francesco Antonio Marcucci was born in Force, a little village which surrounds the territory of Ascoli Piceno, in November the 27th 1717, son of Giovanna Battista Gigli and Leopoldo.
On the same day he was christened in the Force’s Prior church, dedicated to St. Paul.
His parents entrusted him to Mary’s protection, to whom they were very devout.
He returned soon to Ascoli where he grew encircled from the loving cares of his parents and his uncles.
At the age of 18, attracted from the Immaculate Virgin and in her honour, he consecrated his life to God with the perpetual ballot of chastity, and went towards the path to become a clergyman, exceeding all the difficulties in order to obtain the consent of the parents that nourished other dreams for him, because he was the only heir of a noble family.
Francesco was supported in this choice from the aunt , contessa Francesca Gastaldi of Rome, that from April 1731 took the place of his dead mother.
He studied a lot in order to enter in the depth of the mysteries of the faith and he was attracted by it.
He attended with interest and profit the best schools of the city: the college of the Jesuits, close to the church of St. Venanzio, the school of the Dominican Fathers, the one of the Franciscans and the Philippine one.
It fed his faith with an intense religious life and pray, and he entrusted to the guide of optimal clergymen and masters.
A religious Jesuit, which whom we do not know the name, had a determining role in his life. He supported him in S. Francesco from Paola.
Around 1738 Marcucci had as confessor the Philippine clergyman Sardi (1682-1761), who introduced him to the spirituality of St Francesco from Sales.
Conquered from the engagement of the saint to let comprehend that the holiness was possible to everyone, the 27th June 1740 he wrote a work entitled “The common life extracted from the works of St Francesco from Sales”, with the scope to offer a chance of holiness to everybody, based on the love for God.
The first and most important readings of Francesco Antonio, the ones which opened horizons of light on his life, were the biographies of the Jesuit fathers Paolo Segneri (1624-1694) and Antonio Baldinucci (1667-1717), who promoted the renewal of preach with a simple language easy to be understood, anchored to the Sacred Scriptures and to the moral principles.
With the inspiration of this examples Marcucci dedicated his life to an intense activity of preaching, using a clear language able to touch everyone’s heart.
Marcucci had the conviction that the cause of many pities was the ignorance of people, and this was caused by a bad doctrine.
In 1740 he wrote the “Introduction on Evangelic preaching” to give an invitation to young priests to become effective preachers of faith, refusing the use of the rhetoric, trying to arrive to the heart of people, moving them to conversion.
At the age of 21 he had the inspiration to found the Congregation of the Worker Sisters, because they had to perpetrate his love for the Immaculate Conception ,always considered by him as the tender Mother, powerful Advocate, the Mediator of every grace and his Inspiration.
To obtain the grace from God for the foundation of the Congregation, he dedicated some years to the preaching of the Missions in many little villages near to the city of Ascoli Piceno and in the region of Abruzzo.
In April 1739 in Ascoli he had the fortune to meet and to give assistance to St. Leonardo from Porto Maurizio; during the preaching of his extraordinary popular Mission, Marcucci learned a lot from this saint.
When he was ordered priest, on February the 25th 1741, he intensified the preaching on the missions: on July 1742 the Pope Benedetto XVI named him Apostolic Missionary.
In November the 23rd 1744, the Bishop of Ascoli Mons. Tommaso Marana gave to Marcucci the authorisation for the construction of the new Congregation. It was a moment of immense happiness.
In the 8th of December 1744, in the church of St Vincenzo and Anastasio, he blessed the first four young women who gave a start to the Congregation. Then, followed by the devoted people, the sisters came in this Monastery where Marcucci was waiting to give the keys of the house to Maria Tecla Relucenti, the first Superior Mother.
In 1745 the School was opened to give an instruction to young women coming from every social class, going through a deep and complete culture.
Marcucci used all the means to form the sisters to become good teachers and good religious too: he organized academies, published books, made preaches because he wanted to win against ignorance , and the woman should be the protagonist of this battle.
This was a prophetic intuition that is followed today by the Worker Sisters, who try to diffuse their work in the several countries of the Missions.
At the age of 52 the Pope Clemente XVI, the Franciscan Lorenzo Ganganelli, elected Marcucci as bishop of Montalto Marche.
The notice surprised Marcucci and it made him suffer because he felt unworthy and worried for the Congregation which in a few months had lost the first Sisters, Mother Tecla Maria Relucenti and Sister Maria Giacoma Aloisi, and he had also lost his father, the lawyer Leopoldo, the last member of Marcucci’s family, who supported and comforted Marcucci.
During the short stay in Rome, before the bishop consecration, Marcucci was encouraged by the friendship of Saint Paul of the Cross. He predicted that Marcucci would have become saint and his predication would have produced many results.
Marcucci was a bishop who excelled in the activity of predication.
On the 15th of August 1770, in the Church of Piceni of San Salvatore in Lauro in Rome Marcucci was consecrated bishop by the Cardinal Gian Francesco Albani.
In Montalto Marche the bishop Marcucci particularly excelled: the week after his arrival in the Diocese, he wrote to the King of Naples Ferdinand the Fourth asking the permission to visit the part of the Diocese, which was under his jurisdiction. The king, informed by his chaplain Maggiore on the good qualities of the new bishop, in the 17th of April 1744 gave the permission requested and the “Regio Exequatur” on his Papal Bulls.
About one month after the arrival in the Diocese (on 23rd-30th of November 1770), Marcucci invited in his bishop palace all the priests, he gave them a course of spiritual exercises and communicated them the lines he was going to follow for the government of the Diocese.
At first Marcucci strengthened the authority of the Foranei Vicars, he guided them in their work and he promoted the priests formation with the institution of the Scripture Academy and the Moral Conference of the Cases in every vicar area to make the usual procedure of preaching more uniform and to revive a good custom of Christian life.
Marcucci had a natural sense of justice and a good preparation on juridical subjects, so he promoted a correct administration of the temporal properties, as monasteries, abbeys, chapels, benefits, and he improved everything to let all the Diocesans, especially the poorest ones, bring their benefit.
In 1772 he made the first pastoral visit: he visited all the parishes, even the mountain ones and the farer ones.
The reports we have confirm his big attention to everything: from the altar furnishings to the humblest sacristies, to the loving care for all the faithful, for the members of the several confraternities, for the priests, the religious and the Sisters.
Charity and wisdom were the virtues which distinguished the general management of the bishop Marcucci.
He proposed himself to make his Diocese become as a garden, and he was preparing the Synod for the general spiritual renovation when, in the 19th of January 1774 he received the notice of his election for the charge of vice-manageress. Marcucci desired to stay some months in his Diocese to conclude the Synod, but the Pope Clement the XVI was careing about the preparation of the Saint Year in Rome and he asked him to accept the charge as soon as possible. When Marcucci received the letter he got ready to leave immediately.
In a letter sent to Sister M. Petronilla Capozi, Marcucci confided his feelings using these words:
“ We suspend the Synod and its preparation acts, daughter, to offer every action to our Immaculate Lady (…). The Virgin, Mother of God, Lady of Heaven and of the Earth, is calling us for higher duties. We go and tell her: our Virgin, the purest lady, bring us behind you, we will follow the scent of your fragrances.
I am nothing, I have no value, but, sweet Mother, I offer and consecrate to you my heart, my steps, my work, my life, everything, and in honour of the big mystery of your Immaculate Conception I consecrate myself with all my heart”.
Marcucci remained vice-gerent until he had the strength to attend this charge (1786) and he also continued working for the government of the Diocese.
The Pope Pius VI, the successor of Clement XIV, confirmed all the charges for Marcucci and he also asked him to be his confessor and adviser during the journey to Vienna from February to June 1782 to meet the emperor Joseph II. The Pope Pius VI conceded to Marcucci the perpetual approval of the Congregation of the Worker Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (in the 6th of December 1777), of the Constitutions written for them and, in 1780, of the project for the construction of the monastery and the Church dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin in Ascoli Piceno.
The Church was finished and blessed on the 13th of September 1795 while the fury of French Revolution was desecrating the sanctuaries of North Italy.
Marcucci was conscious of the difficulties of that historic period, so he entrusted the realization of the construction to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, and every progress he saw he used to repeat: “These are the miracles of Mary!”.
In the mean time his health was getting worse, so in 1790 he obtained the permission to be transferred in the rooms that today have been turned to Museum, from where he continued with the government of the Diocese.
In 1797 the French soldiers, who were yet in the Northern Italy, invaded the territory of the Papal State and they destroyed all the sacred stuff, even the Sacred Species.
Some bishops escaped from their Dioceses and went to visit the Servant of God, Marcucci.
On the 17th of March 1798 Ascoli Piceno was occupied by the soldiers of Napoleon, and the soldiers chosen as barracks the biggest and most beautiful churches of the town, S. Francesco, S. Domenico and S. Agostino.
On the 12th of July 1798 Marcucci died: in town there wasn’t the Ordinary, the Cardinal Gianandrea Archetti, because he was brought in Gaeta with many other religious. “He died serenely – writes Mons. Francesco Saverio Castiglioni, the future Pope Pius VIII – tormented by the situation of the Church and the Pope because of the terrible French invasion and persecution”. He was 81 years old. All the town and all the people who had known Marcucci cried for his death, especially the poor ones, but certainly the biggest suffering was for his spiritual daughters who were loosing a father, a guide and a master.
Now his mortal remains rest in a little chapel situated at the left side of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, near the Major Altar of the church.
Marcucci left to the Congregation founded by him all his material properties and a great example of life consecrated to the Immaculate Virgin Mary and to the Church.
Since 1962 is in course the cause for Marcucci’s beatification.
On September 2003 six historic consulting have judged positively the two volumes of the “Position on his life, virtue and fame of sanctity”; on 23rd of May 2005, in the Ecclesiastic Tribunal of the Vicar of Rome has been concluded the Diocese’s inquiry for the prodigious garrison of Mrs. Frignani, attributed to Marcucci’s intercession.
The acknowledgement from the Church of Marcucci’s merits and virtues would be a great present for the Congregation founded by him, for the children and the young students of the schools, for the Dioceses of San Benedetto, Montalto Marche, Ripatransone and Ascoli Piceno.
The Immaculate Virgin Mary who has been the secret for Marcucci and the strength for all his big enterprises will obtain for us this present.