Historical dictionary  vol.: 3  let.: A

Alessiani, Stefano

Born in Monterubbiano, A.P., Marches, Italy, November 12, 1868.
Novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 14, 1890.
First vows at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 15, 1891.
Perpetual vows in Liège, August 15, 1899.
Ordained a priest in Liège, July 10, 1898.
Died at Maddaloni, November 24, 1939.

From Monterubbiano in the Marche region, Stefano Alessiani came down to Rome to look for work. At age seventeen, he met the Oblates who were living at the Procurator's residence in Piazza San Ignazio. He did his secondary level studies as an extern, and after his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l'Osier in France, he made his first vows in 1891. He had hardly started his ecclesiastical studies at the Gregorian University when he was sent to the scholasticate in Liege, Belgium, where he made his perpetual vows and was ordained a priest. He then returned to Rome, to the juniorate of Villa del Drago, where he taught natural science and gymnastics. When it is decided that the Italian scholastic novices would go to Notre-Dame de l'Osier, the Brother novices were sent to Roviano, where the country house of the Roman scholastics was under construction. They were entrusted to the care of Father Alessiani. When the novitiate was transferred to Saint-Pierre d'Aosta, the Brother novices also moved to the former priory. After two years at the scholasticate in Rome, Father Alessiani went to Maddaloni and there received his obedience for Santa Maria a Vico. Except for the period of the war,1915-1918, when he served in the local militia, he spent many years there alternating between or combining the functions of bursar (a very parsimonious one!) and rector of the church. From 1927, he was bursar for two years at Onè di Fonte (TV). After six years of very demanding ministry as pastor of Roviano he returned to Maddaloni to die.

When electricity arrived in Santa Maria a Vico, he himself installed it after observing the work of a not too reliable worker. During the work, he had the bad luck of falling from a scaffolding and fractured his femur. It healed but he was left with a limp. Before his painful accident, using his skillful talent as a stucco worker, Father Alessiani decorated the interior of the chapel with artistic Renaissance style pilasters, like those found in various places in the convent of Ferrante. They stood on a stylobate which were supported in turn by slender brackets. Forced subsequently to move about with difficulty, he invented a machine that would make a medieval monk jealous. He built a large wooden clock with gear wheels, and sprockets with weights that sank down seventy meters into a well, which dated from the 16th century. The clock’s hands, that were in constant and noisy motion, were mounted on a dial ninety centimeters in diameter.

At Maddaloni, on the brick terrace facing south, he drew a sundial that indicates the hours, days and months of the year. Nothing remains of these handicrafts in Maddaloni except a small grotto in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes, which guards the house that has since been completely renovated.

Throughout his life, Father Alessiani was an example of fidelity to the exercises of religious life, of generous service and hard work in the various areas where he could use his talents. He only rarely left the house, and was always dressed properly. When he was not in church, he was in his room, bent over the books that filled the libraries of the houses. He studied Scripture in the large volumes of Cornelius a Lapide with his clay pipe beside him.

At dawn on November 24, 1939, after having spent an hour the previous evening, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament exposed for the Forty Hours, he was found leaning on cushions, having been carried away by an angina attack of which he knew well the symptoms and possible outcome. He would have been seventy-one twelve days later.

Francesco Trusso, O.M.I.

Trusso, Francesco, La casa di S. Maria a Vico e gli operai della prima ora (come io lo ricordo), Napoli-Roma, LER, 1992, p. 91-96.


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