𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗘𝗫𝗘𝗠𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗥𝗬 𝗟𝗜𝗙𝗘 𝗢𝗙 𝗛𝗘𝗡𝗥𝗬 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗜𝗡𝗘𝗭 𝗖𝗔𝗦𝗢𝗟𝗔𝗡𝗜
(𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 today’s 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘔𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘢, 16𝘵𝘩 𝘑𝘶𝘭𝘺 2017)
Inez Casolani, born in 1915, died of sudden, massive heart attack 25 years ago, on July 13, 1992, as she was enjoying her summer vacation at Birżebbuġa with her husband Henry (1917-1999).
When their daughter, Sr Cecilia, later went to clear her mother’s bedside table she was surprised to find the following spiritual testimony which had clearly been written by Inez the very night she passed away, just before her last breath: “I take record of God; in Thee I have had my earthly joy!”
Indeed Inez Casolani had lived her whole life by her very last words. Many witnesses, now being called by the tribunal for the cause of the beatification of this holy couple, have attested to this; several others have written similar declarations on the life and virtues of the couple.
The diocesan process for the beatification and canonisation of Henry and Inez Casolani was initiated by Archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna on August 29, 2015, during a special Mass celebrated at the church of Our Lady of the Grotto, of the Dominican Friars in Rabat. During this Eucharistic celebration the Archbishop called on the faithful to pray through the intercession of Henry and Inez Casolani so that, if it is the will of God, this couple may be revered on altars.
In his homily, Archbishop Scicluna said the holiness of thousands of Maltese couples is epitomised in Henry and Inez Casolani’s exemplary life. He urged couples striving for, or finding difficulty in pursuing a holy life, to pray to Henry and Inez Casolani.
Several graces have already been received by many devotees and have been documented by the Postulator of the Cause, Mgr Etienne Sciberras.
It is a rare occasion that a husband and wife are beatified or canonised together
It is a rare and very unique occasion that a husband and wife are beatified or canonised together. There are only a handful of such cases in the whole world, such as the first couple to be canonised, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin – the parents of St Teresa of Lisieux, and also Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, who were recently beatified. This is the first case of such a couple being studied in the Maltese islands.
Henry and Inez Casolani were not martyrs, nor did they set up any religious order. What has been particularly highlighted in this couple’s holy life was their total and constant submission to the will of God in their everyday life, at home and at the work place, in church, in places of relaxation and at any other family or social gathering. They were undoubtedly God’s witnesses at all times.
They had a great love for the Holy Eucharist, but were also devotees of various saints. For example, Henry (known as Harry by family and friends) visited the church of the Benedictine Sisters’ Monastery in Mdina regularly in order to beg for the help of the cloistered Sister, now Blessed, Maria Adeodata Pisani. It was through her intercession that Henry was graced with the scientifically inexplicable and instantaneous healing from macular degeneration in 1992, just a few months after the death of Inez.
It must also be said that Henry was an ardent enthusiast of Dun Ġorġ, now St Ġorġ Preca, even when the latter was still alive. He loved hearing him speak, and whenever he could went to listen to him and abided by what he said.
Inez and Henry were married on April 19, 1944, at St Augustine’s church, Valletta. Inez was very enthusiastic, always bubbling with life, while Henry was an introvert, yet with a great sense of humour. Inez was a qualified teacher from the Normal School but she relinquished her teaching vocation during the war to work with the British Services, so as to support her family, since her father had just died at the age of 52. Once the couple were married, Inez dedicated herself to the family, yet kept on giving private lessons, always for free, as she had similarly done before marriage, mostly to needy students.
During the time the couple lived in Gwardamangia, Inez found time to foster Christian values through her spiritual writings in the newsletter of Immaculate Conception parish church, Ħamrun.
During the war, Henry was seconded with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Henry was an artist and declined a scholarship for Italy as he already knew Inez and did not want to stay away from her for too long. Yet he continued practising his artistic talents in another way as a civil servant at the Public Works Department working as an architectural draughtsman; this he continued until his retirement in 1977.
His office companions found in him a true friend, and he was very appreciated by beginners who sought his help. He was also highly respected by his superiors. Like Inez, he loved helping others; he followed various first aid and civil defence courses for this purpose.
In 1971-72, Henry was chosen to work at the Decimal Currency Secretariat to design posters, brochures and cartoons to help people grasp the workings of the new Maltese decimal currency that was replacing the Pound sterling.
At all his places of work, Henry proved to be a role model. He was a man of peace and calmed down tense situations by his good word, his timely action and his sense of humour, but mostly by his spiritual character and good example. When he was personally unjustly treated, he would still collaborate heartily. He often reminded his colleagues of their spiritual duties.
In their later life both Inez and Henry suffered from several ailments, some of which were quite serious, yet they bore them in silence, without complaining, simply offering their sufferings for the glory of God. When Inez was diagnosed with diabetes, she thanked God for her “new bouquet”. When Henry suffered severe pain caused by a badly swollen toe due to diabetes he meditated on the suffering Christ went through on the Cross.
Through the life of Henry and Inez Casolani, we are presented with a simple life that is accessible to all. Let us confidently pray to them to help us aspire to a life that is pleasing to God. Do not be afraid to ask them for help! Those who have known them in their lifetime know they could never refuse a request. How much more will they help us and grant our appeal now, if we implore their help with faith and trust!
Believe, and if your request is according to God’s will, you will certainly receive it.