Two couples attended the recent Synod on the Family but not in the way that you might think. Pope Francis venerated the relics of Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin, their daughter, St. Therese of Lisieux, as well as the relics of Blessed Luigi (d. 1961) and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi (d. 1975) at the Synod’s Opening Mass.
Between the two families, the couples had nine children and eight vocations to the priesthood or religious life. Of the Martin girls, Pauline, Marie, Céline and Thérèse became Carmelites while Léonie entered the Visitation order. The Quattrocchis had two sons and two daughters. Filippo and Cesare became Benedictines (Cesare later became a Trappist) and Stefania, a Benedictine nun. Their youngest daughter Enrichetta cared for her parents. She was a miracle baby for her mother was advised to abort her during a difficult pregnancy. Three of the children were able to attend their parent’s beatification.
The Quattrocchis, said Pope John Paul II, remind us that “the path of holiness lived together as a couple is possible, beautiful, extraordinarily fruitful, and fundamental for the good of the family, the Church and society.” They were the first married couple to be beatified together!
Luigi and Maria were married in 1905 at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. They lived lives of extraordinary charity and spiritual fervor as Third Order Franciscans. Luigi was a lawyer and attorney general of Italy while Maria was a mother, author, volunteer nurse during World War II and one who accompanied the sick to Lourdes. They prayed the rosary together as a family and were devoted Catholics. Their feast day is not the day of their deaths but rather, appropriately, the day of their wedding anniversary: November 25th.
In the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II encouraged husbands and wives to “embrace your role and your responsibilities. Renew your missionary zeal, making your homes privileged places for announcing and accepting the Gospel in an atmosphere of prayer and in the concrete exercise of Christian solidarity.”