1913 AD (Milan, Italy) – 1972 (Mato Grosso, Brazil)
Venerable Attilio Giordani was unlike many of the saints in this book. He didn’t do miracles like St. Francis or St. Elizabeth. He didn’t create beautiful works of art like St. Andrej or Antoni Gaudi. He didn’t discover important things about God or nature, like St. Ambrose or Blessed Nicolas Steno. You could look at him and think that he was just the dad of a family with three kids – a boy and two girls, who worked in an office and who liked to do a bit of theater in his spare time.
Attilio was also a very funny guy – he made everyone laugh and he liked to play jokes on his family and friends. Do you like to make others laugh too? That’s great! Attilio was excellent at entertaining others. So much so, that, whenever he would appear on stage in a play, the audience would clap even before he said anything! He was also great at making up little tunes and songs – always trying to make the people around him happy.
So, what makes Attilio an example for us? What makes him so much like Jesus that the Church is telling us to look at him as an example. The answer is that he lived like Jesus while doing the same things that everyone else was doing – having a family, a normal job and spending time with his kids. Sometimes it is easy to get a bit bored or forget that even when we do what needs to be done every day, we can always follow Jesus. Next time you go to school, have to do some chores around the house, or play with your friends, why don’t you remember Attilio and try to do it like Jesus?
Because Attilio was so happy that he knew Jesus, he also wanted to share him with everyone else and he was especially keen to make sure that kids knew about him. So, he would do theatre with them, play football with them, tell them jokes and also tell them about Jesus. And everyone loved him and wanted to spend a lot of time with him.
Why is is that everyone loved Attilio so much? One of his daughters, called Maria Grazia, noticed something special about her dad. She said: “To me, the most extraordinary thing about my dad was that he didn’t judge other people. And he went even further, by helping them discover good things about themselves. He helped others to want to be good.” Wow! That is pretty impressive. Don’t you think? Imagine if someone who was mean to you came to you and you would not only be friendly with them, but you would also help them discover something good about themselves. What do you think that would do to them? That’s right, it would make them happy and maybe they would become your friend and be friendlier with others too.
Attilio was also a very humble person, always putting others before himself. When his kids were already grown-ups and decided to go to Brazil to tell people about Jesus there, Attilio went with them straightaway and help them with their adventure. In fact, even when he died he was thinking of others instead of worrying about himself. He was speaking to a group of young people and suddenly started feeling unwell. The first think on his mind were the kids he was speaking to, so he turned to his son, Piergiorgio, and his last words were: “You carry on.”
Attilio may not have done spectacular things, but his life was full of being a hero in every little thing of every day, always thinking of others and of how to let them know that Jesus loves them.
“We have to show with our lives what we believe in. The Gospel needs to be lived, not read. Life needs to be given, not spoken about.”
Ven. Attilio Giordani