Difficult times came for Santa Chiara School in 1897 and the years following. Don Albera had been transferred to Mornico. The suppliers pressed for payment, but the money did not get scarce... it dried up completely.
The novena to St. Joseph had begun. In order to obtain the grace that he earnestly desired, Don Orione spent several nights in Eucharistic vigils. In the mornings he would be found asleep on the altar steps.
Meanwhile Forneris the baker was refusing to supply bread; other creditors came, raised their voices and vented their anger, but they had to leave unsatisfied. To avoid the torment of this mortifying harassment, Don Orione gave orders to the doorkeeper not to let anyone else in.
A stranger arrived and asked to go up to the superior's office because he wanted to speak with Don Orione urgently. The doorkeeper, faithful to his mission, pointed out that he had orders not to let anyone in. The stranger insisted and the doorkeeper, shrugging his shoulders, set off to announce him.
"By the way," he said, "whose name will I say?"
"My name is not necessary; there's no need."
The doorkeeper went up to Don Orione's room and reported.
"But did he not tell you who he was?" asked the superior.
"He did not want to tell me."
"Okay, we'll see."
A minute later the stranger was in front of Don Orione, asking about him and about his work. When Don Orione had satisfied all his questions he drew an envelope from his inside pocket and handed it to him saying: "This is for you."
He then made as if to go.
Don Orione looked and was struck by the cheerful expression on that face enclosed in a white beard and lit up by two most gentle deep-blue eyes.
"Would you be so kind as to give me your name so that I may..."
The unknown benefactor responded with a good-natured smile: "There is no need." After making a bow went out.
Don Orione opened the envelope and saw that it contained a thousand lire. Never had he seen such a sum, such Providence.
He slipped out between the chair and the little table, opened the door to get to that generous person, but did not make it in time to see him. Then, going down the stairs, he ordered the doorkeeper to follow the stranger and call him back, or at least find out where he was going. The doorkeeper knew nothing about him; no-one had gone out that way.
Nevertheless he went out on to the street, looking right and left, but there was no means of recognising him.
Relating this episode to Mgr. Novelli, his confessor, Don Orione was told that it could have been St. Joseph coming to bring him a gift from Providence and he protested that he seemed too young. Monsignor Novelli, however, rejoined that even St. Joseph... was young.
There is no need to add that the thousand lire were immediately handed over to the bursar, Don Risi. By that evening he had barely two hundred left, having paid off the more concerned creditors with the rest of it.