Wednesday, November 16, 2011

St. Luigi Orione’s Sense of Humor, Part 1: A Seriously Ill Patient

        We know that after the International Eucharistic Congress in 1934, Don Orione became very famous in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires. Many people approached him, giving him donations in support of his expanding charitable institutions.
         For his part, Don Orione spent many hours seeing and receiving everyone. The hall of his office was always crowded with people who wanted to talk to him, to help the “Cottolengo”, to ask for his advice or to receive a blessing. Bishops, priests, professionals, members of the high society, workers, poor people, etc, everyone wanted to meet him. 
Once, a very rich man called Mr. Saturnino Unzue went to his office and spoke to Don Orione’s secretary, asking him if Don Orione could go to visit someone who was seriously ill. “Don’t worry – the brother replied – when there is anyone sick, Fr. Orione immediately leaves everything and rushes to their aid ….” 
"I have my car here” – Mr. Saturnino replied, and then confessed to the brother; “Look, brother, it is not really a sick person, but a horse, a very valuable racehorse, which is very ill indeed…. If it dies, the loss will be great… what do you think? Will Don Orione come?” 
“Leave it to me” – the brother answered, feeling that this might be interesting…

Some minutes later, Don Orione left his office, bringing a stole and holy water and everything necessary for the rite, and hurried to the brother, apologizing to the people who were waiting. They got into the car and drove off to assist the patient.
It was a lengthy drive, and when the car reached the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Don Orione asked; “How long before we get there?–, worried about reaching the patient in time. “Just a little further…, we are nearly there” – was the reply.
When the car drove up at the stables of a very important racetrack, the secret could no longer be kept. The brother whispered to Don Orione: “The blessing is for a very valuable horse…” The Founder smiled and said: “Ok, after all as priests we can also bless animals…    the rite exists for it…” 
Don Orione then went into the stable and blessed the horse, sprinkling it with holy water. When he had concluded the rite, they got in the car and drove back home.

Mr. Unzue was extremely grateful, and together with his words of gratitude Fr. Orione received a huge donation, enough to buy thousands of cattle. Of course, the horse recovered and won many races. 
Some days later, Don Orione had already spent the money and needed more for the construction of the Cottolengo at Claypole, so remembering what had happened, he called his efficient secretary and said: “Brother, do you know if there is another horse to bless?” 


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