Salesian holiness: Blessed Philip Rinaldi (1856-1931), priest

05 Dec 2019

Blessed Philip Rinaldi (1856-1931), priest

December 5, memorial

(for Don Bosco Volunteers: feast)


Fr. Rinaldi as rector major

Born on May 28, 1856, at Lu Monferrato (Alessandria), Philip Rinaldi was won over by Don Bosco at the age of 22.

As a priest, he was entrusted with the formation of aspirants and novices. In 1899 Fr. Rua sent him as director of the community of Sarriá, Spain, and later he was appointed provincial. In this role he contributed greatly to the development of Salesian Spain.

When he was nominated prefect general (= vicar general) of the Congregation, his gifts as father and the wealth of his initiatives became even more evident. He set up formation centers to offer spiritual and social assistance to young working women, planned printing works, and guided and supported the Salesian Sisters through a particularly sensitive period in their history. He gave great encouragement to the Salesian Cooperators and set up the world federations of past pupils (both male and female). Working with the Zelatrici di Maria Ausiliatrice (Devotees of Mary Help of Christians), he saw the possibilities for a new form of consecrated life in the world and made it a reality. This group would later become the Don Bosco Volunteers.

Fr. Philip was elected rector major in 1922. “All that is lacking to Fr. Rinaldi is Don Bosco’s voice: he has everything else,” said Fr. John Baptist Francesia, one of the original group of Salesians (1859).

Fr. Philip used all his energies in adapting Don Bosco’s spirit to the times. He did much to develop Salesian studies and was a master of spiritual life. He worked to renew the spiritual life of the Salesians and had absolute confidence in God and unlimited trust in Mary Help of Christians. He asked Pope Pius XI to grant the “indulgence for sanctified work.” He took great interest in the missions, sending many young Salesians to learn languages and customs so that evangelization might be more effective.

He died on December 5, 1931. His remains are venerated with those of the other deceased rectors major in the crypt of the basilica of Mary Help of Christians. He was beatified on April 29, 1990, by St. John Paul II.