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Father Gesualdo De Luca

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The ideal rider to defend the most helpless creatures

Gesualdo De Luca

Versatile writer, passionate man of culture

Giuseppe Ignazio De Luca, in the religion Gesualdo, son of Joshua, was born in Cesarò on August 1814, in one of the short periods that his mother - Maria Savoca Panneri - originally from that country, used to spend in his father's house.
Custos General and Prior Capuchin and author of numerous scholarly and canonical and historical works.
He always signed his works Gesualdo De Luca da Bronte, those published from 1843 and are over 40; the unpublished ones are many tens and are located in Messina.

A brilliant orator and educator, a man of doing with a fiery and impetuous character, he became interested and wrote about everything from Theology, Civil and Canon Law, History, Physics, Apologetics and others.

He entered the "public scene" in 1843 when he was called as secretary of Father Felice Fenech da Lipari, provincial superior to Messina and Syracuse and later Procurator General of the Order.

In 1846 we find him already Guardian of the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna, where he reorganized the Archive, neatly assembling all the scriptures and deserved the title of Meritorious for the various works done, described in his pamphlet "The Sanctuary of Gibilmanna".
He obtained from the Holy See various Rescripts granting many privileges and spiritual graces to the Shrine.

After moving to Rome, in 1847 he was appointed general secretary of the Procura "for the answers and consultations to the Sacred Congregations and member of the Commission formed for the examination of the Ordinances and Decisions of the General Chapter.

In 1848, following Pius IX, who had left Rome and had fled to Gaeta, Father Gesualdo moved to Naples in the convent of S. Eframo Nuovo. In the two cities he was able to frequent high exponents of the ecclesiastical and cultural world of the time (among which the De Luca brothers, Antonino Saverio, the cardinal, and the economist Placido, linked to him by kinship relations).

A year later, in August 1849, he returned to Bronte, where the notoriety that had preceded him immediately opened the doors of his teaching.

He was appointed reader of the Dogmatic and Moral Theology of the schools of the Order (where he taught for four years) and later in the Real College Capizzi where - he wrote himself - «for a long season he was Professor on the Chairs of Canon Law, Dogmatic Theology, Philosophy , of Rhetoric, and Latin Literature, and Italian "(where he had among his students the writer Luigi Capuana).

At the University Of Palermo, he was the first to search for ancient documents and sources of brontese history reporting them back in his most famous book the "Storia della Città di Bronte" ("History of the town of Bronte"), a weighty volume of 450 pages published in Milan in 1883.

"The origins of the city of Bronte - wrote the Civiltà Cattolica on July 5, 1884, in reviewing the book - are lost in the remotest antiquity, and probably are cured by the fabulous era of Sicily. But the truly historical memories are relatively recent, not coming back to the tenth or the eleventh century of the Christian era; and these too are very scarce.

«The ch. Fr. Gesualdo De Luca, advised by his father's love, has studied the search for greater diligence with the primordial origins of his homeland until fabulous times, arguing for conjectures, where he could not because of direct monuments. In this context I would like to offer a wide and manifold geographic and ethnographic erudition; which, if not always offers him certain or at least quite probable conclusions for the existence of Bronte in those very ancient times, but opens the field to offer the reader useful news about the telluric conditions of the island and its inhabitants in those ancient years.»

«The history of Bronte proper, has its beginning in the fifteenth century; and our ch. Author describes it in all its particularities and with the greatest accuracy, both in public events and in political relations and relations with neighboring peoples, and in religious conditions, and finally in particular events more worthy of memory. There is a review of the most remarkable men who have illustrated it, either with the sanctity of the life and with works of zeal, or with illustrious offices, ecclesiastical maxims, or with doctrine and with books given to light.»

«The work ends with a careful study of the events suffered by volcanic eruptions and other soil conditions, whether under geological respect, or under the respect of fertility and products.
It is a work that must not only be pleasant to the Brontesi, but will be welcomed by the lovers of historical studies. The Holy Father himself has deigned it to honor Brief.»

Many, like the same Civiltà Cattolica, judge the historical reconstructions made by the Capuchin friar, written more with "patrious love" than with research, documents and study;  another historian of ours, Benedetto Radice, defined "chaotic" the attempt done by the De Luca, even if, affirms, "of that he must also be given praise".

Published more than 50 books among which "The right of pro­perty in the teaching and the facts of the church" (two volumes, Catania 1853), "The divine and human rights" (in two volumes, Catania 1854 and Palermo 1857), "Consecrator crist. matrimoni" (Catania, 1871)".

As a "good fellow villager", father Gesualdo De Luca joined the enemies and detractors chorus that were trying to confute and demolish the advanced thesis of Nicola Spedalieri.

In his book "Il contratto sociale discusso a mente dei sacri canoni" (The social contract talked while thinking of the holy canons), (Catania, 1882) turned ferocious criticisms to the thought of the philosopher defining him, among  other things, "a very miserable copycat of the most impious theories that crazy fellows ("Rousseau and others, equally delirious") had written about the origin and quality of the men's natural right and duties", and their "inauspicious shadow" that " ... is wrapped in so many contradictions ...".

Also, "excited by good friends, proposed, to straighten up this big work by the priest Spedalieri ... if God will grant me a long life".

«But - write Giuseppe Cimbali  (About Spedalieri - The insults of a century, Rome 1899) - the announ­ced destruction was not performed. Luckily, God did not grant ... the hoped longevity and the destruction remained only a criminal attempt».

Father Gesualdo worked to revive the fate of the small Convent of the PP. Capuchins of Bronte (a part of it, in 1882, had been used by the Municipality as a hospital) reorganizing it and directing it, with brief interruptions until death.

Gesualdo De Luca died in Bronte on 26 February 1892.

He is buried in the Bronte cemetery, under the floor in front of the altar of the Chapel of the Franciscan Order. The plaque thus reads: "Close this urn, the mortal remains, of MR Gesualdo De Luca, former Provincial Council, of many learned scholarly theological works, historical oratories, clear writer, of the Congress of the 3rd Order of the Franciscan Order. , founder, died of 78 years in 1892 at 26 Feb., pray ".
After almost four centuries from its construction, even the convent of the Capuchin Fathers, where friar Gesualdo lived and died, so he strenuously defended so much to suffer the prison, he closed its doors with the transfer to the other headquarters of the last two brothers remained.
Many documents and manuscripts that are kept in the library of the Convent, with the closing (September 2010), have been transferred to other places, probably in Messina.

Father Gesualdo De Luca, from a dra­wing taken from his book "Histo­ry of the town of Bronte" and (below) a painting preserved in the Ca­pizzi col­le­ge. Benedetto Radice speaks of him as "noticed to the ec­clesiastical world for his works about Canon Law, for his love of  the Bourbon and his turbulent spirit".

Gesualdo De Luca, frate cappuccino


The first pages of the "History of the City of Bronte" by Father Gesualdo De Luca (Milan, Typography of San Giuseppe, 1883). The Root, our other historian, defined the attempt made by De Luca as "chaotic", even if, he affirms, "of which he is praised".
And a lot of praise had to recognize him himself because in writing 40 years later his historical Memories of Bronte found the path already traced by the Capuchin friar who first tried to configure a scheme of the history of the City.
The Radice, albeit with different methods and a more modern approach, somehow found the way already outlined, a scheme already done that almost faithfully followed.


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The convent of the Capuchin fathers of Bronte


Translated by Sam Di BellaITALIAN VERSION


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