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Blessed Marco Antonio Durando

Father Durando fully realized his vocation as a priest of the Congregation of the Mission. Like Saint Vincent, he let the sanctifying Spirit work in him. As director of the Daughters of Charity, he had the courage to undertake initiatives that were daring for his time, such as sending Daughters of Charity to treat the wounded in the Crimean War. He dared to found a congregation, the Nazarene Sisters, dedicated to the service of the sick in their homes.

1801, 22 MayBirth in Mondovì (Piedmont)
1817Entrance into the Congregation of the Mission
1824, 12 JunePriestly ordination
1831Provincial Director of the Daughters of Charity
1865, 21 NovemberFoundation of the community of the “Daughters of the Passion of Jesus the Nazorean”
1880, 10 December Death in Turin
2001, 20 OctoberBeatification by Pope John Paul II
10 DecemberLiturgical feast

Marco Antonio Durando was born in Mondovi (Piedmont) in 1801 into a distinguished family. His very devout mother raised her children as Christians, while his father held liberal ideas and secular, agnostic dispositions.

At the age of fifteen, Marco Antonio wanted to preach the Gospel in distant lands. He entered the Congregation of the Mission and made his perpetual vows at the age of eighteen. In 1824 he was ordained a priest. After spending five years in Casale Monferrato, he went to Turin where he lived from 1829 until his death. He would have liked to go to China as a missionary, but his delicate health prevented him from doing so. However, he put all his zeal into popular missions. During these missions, he did not limit himself to preaching, but whenever he found situations of serious poverty, he took concrete action in concert with his companions, in imitation of Saint Vincent, his patron saint. He supported and disseminated the work of the Propagation of the Faith. Rejecting the two extremes of laxity and of Jansenist rigidity, Father Durando preached the mercy of God, inviting people to conversion.

He sensed the usefulness of bringing the Daughters of Charity to Italy. Father Durando wanted them to come to the Piedmont region, and King Charles Albert welcomed them in 1833 to take responsibility for various military or civilian hospitals. In 1853, he had the courage to send them to the rear front of the Crimean War to help the wounded. At the same time, he spread the Marian Association of the Miraculous Medal among young women. Vocations were so numerous that in 1837 King Charles Albert placed the convent of San Salvario in Turin at their disposal.

With the increase in the number of Sisters, Father Durando endowed the city of Turin with a network of Charity Centers, called “the Mercies.” The Sisters and the Ladies of Charity set off from them for the care of people in their homes and the relief of the poor. Around the Mercies, many works were formed: the first nursery schools for poor children, training programs for young women and orphanages.

God’s works are unpredictable. On 21 November 1865, feast of the Presentation of Mary, Father Durando entrusted to the Servant of God, Luigia Borgiotti, the first postulants of the new Company of the Passion of Jesus the Nazorean. These young women had turned to him, desirous of dedicating themselves to God, but who did not meet certain canonical requirements to enter religious communities. Father Durando died on 10 December 1880 at the age of seventy-nine.