An upcoming beatification

ManelliIn the Italian daily La repubblica there is an article about an upcoming beatification.

Vatican City – In spite of the fact that only his salary was coming in, they had 21 children: an example of Christian “faithfulness” and “acceptance” which the Church points to also for every family today with the beatification of the couple.  ….

I don’t have time to translate the whole thing, but with the beatification Holy Church will hold up Settimo Manelli (1886-1978) and Licia Gualandris (1907-2004) as “exemplary spouses and parents”.

In a time when families are being called upon to tighten the belt, in a time when the decline of the number of children being brought into families with a loving father and mother in the home, in a time when more and more children are being exposed less and less to a life of Christian faith well-lived, this beatification takes on its own importance, much as did the beatifications of Bl. Luigi Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, or that of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

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  1. Liz says:

    Love it! My friends and I often lament that there are not more mothers and fathers of large families as saints! There is St. Margaret of Scotland, but we would love more! Now we can see that our piddly little families of 8, 9, 10 etc. aren’t so big after all. :o)

  2. stpetric says:

    I’m with Liz.

    I love our clergy and religious, but the sanctorale is overwhelmed with them. I’m glad to see recognized the sanctity of some of Christ’s lay faithful.

  3. benedetta says:

    I have a friend who was one of 17. Great to see holy laity of our time canonized! It is truly beautiful to see a married couple be proposed together for canonization as well.

  4. St. Basil the Elder (son of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus’ student St. Macrina the Elder, and a rhetor by profession) and St. Emmelia of Caesarea (whose father was a martyr) had ten children. Their home in Caesarea Mazaca (now Kayseri, Turkey) produced the following known saints: St. Macrina the Younger (abbess, teacher, bossy eldest sibling, and theologian), St. Basil the Great (bishop and theologian), St. Naucratius (hermit, philosopher, and scholar who died young in a sad accident), St. Gregory of Nyssa (black sheep of the family and eventual bishop and theologian), and St. Peter of Sebaste (abbot of the brother monastery to his sister’s community, bishop, theologian, and the baby of the family). The other kids became married ladies with nice families, but they evidently preferred anonymity to letting their brothers write about them. :)

    Greg, Basil, and Basil’s bud St. Gregory of Nazianzus are known as the Cappadocian Fathers. Greg N and Basil went to school in the same class with the guy who later became Emperor Julian the Apostate, which goes to show that even a good Catholic university can’t save your soul if you don’t want to cooperate.

  5. digdigby says:

    Twenty one children ? She probably never knew a complete mass for two decades taking out the crying ones.

  6. Oh, and St. Basil the Great was also a bossy elder sibling. :)

  7. TJerome says:

    To raise 21 children properly, one would develop saintly qualities in a hurry! What a wonderful story at Christmas that the Church is honoring such magnificent parents!!

  8. Fabrizio says:

    They are the parents of Fr. Stefano Manelli, the founder of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. He is their sixth. Settimio was once praised in public by St. Pio of Pietrelcina as an exemplary Christian.

    The article mentions that 13 of the 21 are still alive, all have succeeded in life, 8 have achieved higher education. For digdigby: The article doesn’t say it by but Mamma Licia was not exactly famous for missing too many Masses. When you are blessed with such a large family, older kids are of great help, and Providence sees to it that there isn’t too much trouble anyway.

    They were of the last generation of people who where living explanations of why for 12 centuries neither heretics from the north nor Islamic armies from the south could ever take over the Italian peninsula.

  9. yatzer says:

    I am impressed, but still puzzled as to how one would do this in the present day. I reared 4 kids, and was almost overwhelmed. I know parents of 7, but they have quite good incomes and stable jobs. Maybe more would do this if they could figure out how, or maybe I’m completely off the wall here.

  10. digdigby says:

    I am only being humorous. My sister in laws large Catholic family taught me how the older siblings look after the younger.

  11. irishgirl says:

    Wow-I never heard of this couple. Very impressive…
    And don’t forget the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin. They had 9 children, of whom 5 daughters survived, all in religious life.

  12. Fabrizio says:


    life was simpler, we were simpler, and the cultural pressure was on manning up and take responsibilities, not to have fun and stay 14 y.o. till you’re 45. The family and the Church were the revered focus of society, Now they are the target and the obstacle. Having children was considered respectable and responsible. Now it’s an attack on climate and environment

  13. YoungCatholic says:

    You forgot about Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin , Father !

  14. Joseph-Mary says:

    I am very edified by this upcoming beatification. I understand there is a biographical book coming out on the Manelli Family.

  15. Andrew says:


    Reason tells us that having children is a service to society. Even the pre-Christian Plinius (as if he was adressing our own generation) in one of his letters (Book 4, letter 15) has the following to say about a friend of his: “he acted as an exemplary citizen also in wanting to benefit generously from his wife’s fertility at a time when even a single child is a burden to many in view of the reward of childlessness.” (Nam in hoc quoque functus est optimi civis officio, quod fecunditate uxoris large frui voluit, eo saeculo quo plerisque etiam singulos filios orbitatis praemia graves faciunt.)

    His statement agrees with the Church’s teaching regarding the legal aspect of marriage: “Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition.”

    If our western culture doesn’t figure this out soon, we will be taking lessons from people who will not be inclined to pamper us.
    This lesson of trust in divine providence is sorely needed. Settimo and Licia, pray for us.

  16. Shadow says:

    @Suburbanbanshee: WAY COOL! :-)

  17. Jenny says:


    I agree that times were simpler, but today having a large family means a lot more than just “manning up.” There are expectations with raising children today, both cultural and legal, that did not exist in earlier times. I agree with yatzer that having a large family now means someone is probably making big bucks. To raise more than three or four children on today’s median income is difficult.

  18. Papabile says:

    I am scratching my head here. Yes, raising three or four is difficult. It’s MEANT to be difficult. They are not our children. We have been entrusted with their souls so as to assist them in attaining salvation. Their God’s.

    I have five myself. And, no, I am not rich. Hopefully we will have many more.

  19. Sam Urfer says:

    Well, the key is that they did not have a 21st century middle class, suburban American standard of living. In our materialistic society, it’s hard to imagine how people manage with less; yet they have, and do.

  20. Joseph-Mary says:

    In looking into this I am not sure that beatification is set; from what I see the diocesan inquiry has been opened only so it may be a while? (unless I am ready it wrong)

  21. Liz says:

    Oh, it’s not really easy, but it’s very doable. I guess you have to pray a lot and know some good religious who are willing to pray a lot for you as well. You can trade. We pray for you. You pray for us. We live near Walmart and often buy our groceries there. I stand in line and shake my head at the silly things people buy. I tell my kids every year that we are cutting back for Christmas. Then they say I say that every year. Then I say that I REALLY MEAN IT (not shouting, Father, just emphasizing!) this year and they laugh and say that I say that every year! Then I do it. They don’t get that much and a lot of it is practical. One of their gifts this year is a donation to Life Site News. Actually, a lot of times our gifts to each other are masses. Our kids gave us a mass for our 19th anniversary. Best gift ever! Or sometimes they say a litany or rosary for us or each other. Still my children seem like very happy people. It helps that we adopted children from third world countries and we can see that we Americans are more than a bit spoiled. Anyway, it’s possible with a garden, thrift stores, garage sales and low expectations. (by the way our house is large and our closets are overflowing. It was a fixer-upper and we have been slowly adding on and fixing up. My husband has a decent job, but not a huge income by any means. We are very frugal and people presume we make a lot. It’s just not the case. You can save huge amounts on little things.) My older kids work hard to earn money…not just for fun stuff but for car insurance, plane tickets, school fees etc. It’s not just helpful (and necessary) to the family, but also it’s good character development. We don’t go out to eat–rarely anyhow–and that’s okay because we think our homemade stuff is way better. I may not have been the best cook in the world in the beginning, but I’ve sure had lots of years to figure it out. I never can get over how much better home-made strawberry jam is. People can’t always do the same things we can do, but there are many options out there. Sorry to go on and on, but this is one of my favorite misunderstood topics. Like I said, it’s not always easy, but it’s not that bad. The Tightwad Gazette book is extremely helpful. ( btw, we have 8 and are trying to adopt another or two…God willing.)

  22. Liz says:

    Oops. Sorry that was so long!

  23. Jenny says:

    Of course raising children is difficult no matter the circumstances and, I agree, it is not supposed to be easy. I am only referring to the reality that raising a large family requires a lot of money. How one defines “poor” and “rich” depends a lot on our own income. Generally anyone who makes less than we do is considered “poor” and anyone who makes about double is considered “rich.”

    The truth is that raising 20 kids on 45K (about the US median income) is a recipe for poverty. Perhaps some are called to this station, but let’s not pretend that more families with that income would be that large if we would just “man up” and not be “materialistic.” It is much more complicated than that.

    I am only responding to yatzer’s question about how raising a family like this is possible in our society without making big bucks. My answer is “I don’t know.”

  24. Jenny says:


    I really appreciate your comment. Living frugally while raising and adopting kids. May God bless you for it.

  25. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I am the opposite of an expert (small family and God has never sent me a husband) but I am reminded of the many times I have heard Protestants say that the Church encourages people to “have children that they can’t afford.” But now that I am in the Church, I see the beautiful caring of the large families and the moral and economic bankruptcy (caused by selfishness) of the double-income-no-kids crowd and the 2.1 children crowd and I always now challenge people to show me a family with too many kids that they can’t afford. There are several families at my parish with 10-12 children and they all seem happy, healthy, active in the Church, down to earth people. (and how can you not be down to earth with many children?) 8-)

  26. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Oh gosh, my smile fell off my face on the last post! Help!

  27. dmhb says:

    Every time I hear a comment about how to afford children, I get angry. Really, I know of many large families in Honduras and Nicaragua that live on a fraction of the US median income.
    Aren’t we all supposed to be living an evangelical poverty that is counter-cultural and truly challenging?
    We have five kids (so far, hopefully more to come, but then we’ve only been married for seven years). We also spent the first five years (until our fourth was born) as a missionary family, living on donations – subsistance level. The bishop we worked with in Nicaragua is the youngest of 13, his mother one of 23. Unfortunately, we do tend to get married later in modern society, so my wife and I will be lucky if we can have 12. Now that we live back in the US, I certainly don’t expect money to stop us – this is the richest society on earth and we have learned to live simply.
    Children are God’s greatest blessing for every marriage, to put off receiving them is a true poverty.

  28. Fabrizio says:

    I agree that times were simpler, but today having a large family means a lot more than just “manning up.” There are expectations with raising children today, both cultural and legal, that did not exist in earlier times. I agree with yatzer that having a large family now means someone is probably making big bucks. To raise more than three or four children on today’s median income is difficult.


    I agree 100%, it’s exactly what I said: times were simpler in many ways, including cultural and socio-economic aspects. We have 4 kids, in the EU(SSR), and that means that we have chosen poverty, and the constant suggestion that we are irresponsible and that we deserve to struggle economically. It’s not that governement is a tax-guzzling, anti-family behemot, it’s us being bigots, they say. We’d have more, and hopefully we will despite some medical issues. It’s not so simple though. It was simpler back when. A monk told us that to have 4 children today in Europe is like having 12 of them 100 years ago, and way more heroic, a real act of countercultural war. They started giving us strange looks when our THIRD was coming, at the announcement of the fourth pregnancy we saw shaking heads. Including from churchgoing Catholics. Believe me, I know what “difficult” means when it comes to raising children today.

  29. Brad says:

    The mother here was (is) clearly major Mrs. Maternal Awesome. But, without detracting from her, I catch the scent here, if you will, of the overwhelming presence of St. Joseph via the father, Mr. Manelli. This man had to be incredible both in mundane ways and is spiritual ways. What I see here is how stunningly favored some souls can be, through clearly inordinate amounts of grace. I am too happy for them.

  30. Jenny says:


    I understand your struggles. I have three children and I would like more in the future, but I look at our finances and wonder how many more that could realistically be. When we announced the third, we got a lot of looks and “surely this is the last one.” Three is definitely on the edge of acceptable to the larger culture, but when I come to uber-Catholic internet land three is treated like a selfish withholding. It would be great if we lived in a culture that supported large families, but we don’t and we make the best decisions we can in light of that fact.

  31. Dr. Eric says:

    We have #5 on the way. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. The kids are doubled up in a room- we have 3 bedrooms and “Bay-ba Ava” will sleep in a crib in our room until my new practice takes off and we can afford a bigger house. I wouldn’t have it any other way (except with more money to pay off my debts!) I told my wife we need to have 2 more after Ava because it wouldn’t be fair with her being 5 years younger than our youngest boy because our first 4 children are all very close in age- all about 17 months apart.

  32. lux_perpetua says:


    lol. i have tried unsuccessfully multiple times to understand and pin down that family tree. i’ve literally copy/pasted your comment for future reference. thanks for the pithy history lesson!!

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