Venerable Paul Anthony Capelloni, SJ
February 21, 1776
October 13, 1857
Cause introduced: June 23, 1909
Paul Anthony Capelloni was born in Rome and attended the Roman College which was then operated by Diocesan priests because the Society of Jesus had been suspended since 1773. Later in 1794, he entered the Capranica, a distinguished Roman seminary and was there for four years before it was closed by the French, who were occupying Rome. He continued his theology studies with the Dominicans and was ordained priest in 1801.
After his ordination, Fr Capelloni became the tutor to the two sons of a Roman Marquis and also did pastoral work at the Gesu church in Rome which was staffed by by former Jesuits. He became a favourite of the Gesu’s pulpit with his good oratorical skills and his sermons. His Three Hours Good Friday’s devotions were also popular.
In 1811, Fr Capelloni was forced to leave Rome as he refused to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon I. For the next three years, he resided with the Vitelleschi family in Rieti where he continued with his pastoral work with great fervour. He returned to Rome and on November 30, 1814, at the age of thirty-eight entered the Jesuit novitiate of Sant Andrea when Pius VII restored the Society of Jesus two months earlier.
From 1815 until 1821, Fr Capelloni was the pastor of the Jesuit church in Ferentino where his preaching and mission work bore much fruit. He was transferred to reopen the Jesuit church, Gesu Nuovo which had been closed since 1806. He worked hard and gradually brought back the former parishioners and restored all liturgical functions. He also fostered devotions to our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as well. He made Blessed Francis Jerome, beatified in 1806 and who had been a priest at the Gesu Nuovo, his special patron and promoted his cause towards canonization. When Blessed Jerome was finally canonized on May 26, 1839, Fr Capelloni organized an eight-day celebration in Naples culminating in the saint being named the city’s patron.
In March 1848, revolutionaries attacked the Jesuit College and residence. Fr Capelloni and fellow Jesuits were kept under house arrest for a day before they were shipped off and exiled to Malta. Their exile lasted slightly more than a year and Fr Capelloni returned to Naples and his pulpit and ministry.
Fr Capelloni died on Oct 13, 1857 following a short illness after thirty-five fruitful years in the Lord’s Vineyard. He was buried in the Gesu Nuovo where he was pastor. In recognition of his life of charity, humility and holiness, his cause (for beatification) was introduced in Rome on June 23, 1909.