Ciorani: the Diocesan Shrine to Blessed Sarnelli opened

Throne with the statue of Blessed Gennaro; photo: F. De Caro.

(Ciorani, Italy) On Thursday, 30 June, on the occasion of the liturgical memory of Blessed Sarnelli, the Archbishop of Salerno, Andrea Bellandi, officially opened the Diocesan Shrine erected on 19 January 2022. It was necessary to organise a solemn event worthy of the canonical erection. For the people of Ciorani, this celebration took place on a particularly warm but no less festive day.

People waited for the pastor of their archdiocese at the beginning of the driveway to the village, which many Redemptorists will remember: less than a kilometre travelled in song and prayer. Welcoming the bishop was like recalling the afternoon of 4 March 1735, when Saint Alphonsus and his first companions arrived in Ciorani.

Then the Holy Eucharist started, concelebrated by the twenty-five people enrolled in the Redemptorist spirituality course in English, who have made Ciorani their base station for study, sharing and departure to visit the important places of Redemptorist history.

People gathered in good numbers, so much so that a screen had to be installed in the square to allow everyone to follow the various moments. Also present were the civil authorities of the municipality to which Ciorani belongs, namely Mercato San Severino.

In his homily, the archbishop recalled St. John Paul II’s words pronounced in 1996 at the Beatification of Sarnelli. He emphasised how the Blessed challenges the Church to respond to the ‘change of epoch’ that we are all living through. Even on a smaller scale, a change was already underway in the 18th century, when the founder of the Redemptorists and Baron Sarnelli’s son acted.

All the gathered at the liturgy listened to the General Superior’s letter addressed for the occasion to Provincial Superior Fr. Serafino Fiore. Unable to attend personally, Fr. Brehl emphasised how the witness embodied by the Blessed embodied the theme chosen by the previous Chapter for the entire Congregation: Witnesses of the Redeemer in a wounded world.

At the end of the celebration, the relic was placed in a niche in the side chapel at the entrance to the church, where Sarnelli’s mortal remains have rested since 1994. And a marble memorial plaque was unveiled. Then, a celebration for the town and the people of the neighbouring districts continued.

Now it is up to the people, and first and foremost the Redemptorist community, to ‘deserve’ the privilege granted with the erection of a Sanctuary. The triduum of preparation preached by the Lebanese Redemptorist Fr. Habib Badran of the Roman Province was centred on the cornerstones of the synodal path: Communion, Participation and Mission. The new Shrine stands as a call to the involvement of all, motivated by the first of all gifts, namely baptism.

Fr. Serafino Fiore, C.Ss.R.