Luigi Beltrame and Maria Corsini Quattrocchi may not seem like your typical saints. They left no world-changing writings. They were not martyrs. What were their heroic virtues? They were married for more than forty years and raised four children.
Come to think of it, those are pretty heroic virtues.
On October 1, 2001, the Quattrocchis became the first couple to be beatified together (yes, even before Therese of Lisieux’s parents), credited with intervening on behalf of a young man with a severe circulatory disorder. As John Paul II said at the beatification of this wonderful Italian couple: “Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life.”
Luigi and Maria were married on November 25, 1905. (And, appropriately, November 25 is their feast day.) Three of their four children arrived in the first four years of the marriage. Luigi was an attorney who worked for the government and for banks, and traveled often. When she became pregnant the second time, Maria wrote him: “Who will give me the strength to think of two children? To endure the physical and physiological exhaustion of pregnancy and the rest. Believe me, I am truly in despair.” Later, with their fourth child, Maria was on bedrest for four months. Yet through faith and love, the couple perservered… and grew closer to the Lord and to each other. Luigi died in 1951; Maria in 1965.
Of the Quattrocchis’ four children, one became a diocesan priest; another, a Trappist monk; a third, a nun. The youngest cared for her parents and then her brothers. Three of the four attended the beatification.
Now, you might wonder what the Quattrocchi home looked like. The family said the rosary together nightly, and kept an image of the Sacred Heart on the mantle. They also had a weekly holy hour and made weekend retreats. Both parents were involved in the Italian Catholic Scouts and Catholic Action, a lay, non-political movement. Maria supported the establishment of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and served on the Italian Catholic Women’s Association General Council.
But their spirituality extended into the everyday: They enjoyed their second home in the country. They played sports and took vacations together. Their home and hearts were always open to friends and those in need. Their oldest son said: “I remember a ‘noisy joy’ in the house, with no religious excesses—or boredom. … Ours was a normal family that sought to live its relationships on a plane of high spirituality.”
To learn more about the Quattrocchis, check out John Paul II’s beatification homily. Consider asking for their intervention when your responsibilities as a spouse or parent seem too daunting to bear.
Melanie Rigney is the author of two books on how the women saints can illumine your spiritual journey: Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith and Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration (both Franciscan Media). Visit her at www.melanierigney.com.