1894 (Tivoli, Italy) – 1980 (Rocca di Papa, Italy)
Igino Giordani was born in Italy over a hundred years ago. When he turned eight, he started to learn to become a bricklayer, like his dad. Do you know what it’s like to work as a bricklayer? It’s pretty hard even for an adult! Igino’s family was poor and not all kids could go to school back then. Instead, many of them had to work. But, thanks to the kindness of some friends of his family, Igino was allowed to study. He was about to go to university, when a big war broke out and he had to join the army.
Since he was soldier, he was ordered to shoot at people. But, Igino thought of everyone as a child of God, so he could not bring himself to hurt anyone. Instead, to avoid being discovered because he wouldn’t use his gun, he just shot in the air! Like that he tricked his superiors in the army who wanted soldiers to shoot, but he did not hurt anyone. That’s pretty smart, don’t you think? Later in the war he got very badly injured and spent a lot of time in hospital.
After the war Igino got married and ended up studying at universities in Italy and the United States, which was also very unusual back then. He even became the head of the Vatican Library, one of the oldest and largest libraries in the world. There, he even came up with a new way to organize all the books. This was at a difficult time, when many countries didn’t talk to each other. But, he was liked so much and his work was so good that even enemies followed his example! Pretty impressive, don’t you think?
All this time, Igino had a very close relationship with Jesus, Mary and the saints. He went to mass every day, even though his legs were sore from the war wounds. And, in his spare time, he wrote stories about saints, so that others could learn about them and become inspired by them.
Igino also set up newspapers and magazines that many people in Italy read every day. In them he always showed the world as Jesus sees it and encouraged everyone to do good and say no to bad things. Sometimes though, he was misunderstood even by the Church and one day he was asked to stop making his newspaper! Instead of saying no, he humbly followed what the Church asked him, even when he knew that he did nothing wrong. Have you ever been told off for something you didn’t do? That’s exactly how Igino felt, but he also knew that God had a special plan for him even in this difficult moment.
After some years, Igino became a member of the Italian parliament. Do you know what a parliament is? It is the place where laws are made that everyone then has to follow and agreeing on what these laws should be can be quite tricky. Here too Igino did all he could to help bring about peace. He often spoke out against war, proposed not to spend money on weapons and called enemies ‘our brothers’! Pretty courageous, isn’t it? Imagine calling your schoolmates, who are mean to you, your ‘friends’! I am sure they would be taken aback and so would everyone else!
During this time he also got to know Chiara Lubich who saw in him straight-away a person who loved Jesus and everybody around him even in difficult places like the parliament. Igino realised that Chiara was a person of God and it was clear to him that he wanted to follow God with her. For Chiara the meeting with Igino was also very important and she called Igino ‘Foco’, meaning ‘fire’ in Italian, as he was so “on fire” for Jesus. A few years after this important meeting, Foco left politics and dedicated all his life to working with Chiara for dialogue between people of different religions. Can you imagine giving up being a very important and powerful person in the world because you want to follow God? That’s exactly what Foco did! Foco wanted to follow Jesus and when he understood what that meant, he put everything else aside no matter what it was. Do you think you could do the same? Of course you can!
“Life is a march towards eternity.
A production of love,
vitamin of holiness.”