Fr. Giovanni Semeria, Servant of GOD


Fr. Semeria's  famous saying 

 "A far del bene non si sbaglia mai."
"Doing good you will never err"


O Lord, you have supported 
your servant Giovanni Semeria 
in difficult moments and 
have inspired in him an untiring charity 
to alleviate the sufferings of others.
Grant me, through his intercession, 
the grace that I need in my present difficulty.
I ask for it with confidence in your goodness and power. 

With ecclesiastical approval.


The example of fidelity and dedication of  
Fr. Giovanni Semeria as 
a priest, scholar, preacher, educator, 
military chaplain, 
loving father of so many youth, 
humble but tenacious servant of the Church 
and the poor, in their adventurous life, 
may also suggest to you, young people, 
an intense program of life.
John Paul  II, Speech to the Italian Youth
February 22, 1984 

"He had a life spent fully for the awakening and
affirmation of Christian thought, 
completely involved in the service of the Church and 
the Catholic cause in a modern society, 
and totally dedicated to the service 
of the poor and the humble." 
Paul VI, Nov 1, 1968


Fr. Giovanni M. Semeria: Servant of Servants

Fr. Semeria with General Cadorna


In 1967 Pope Paul VI wrote: "We love to see in him (Fr. Semeria) one of the most noble and known figures of the past generations, for his simplicity and humility as a religious, for his vast culture, for his powerful eloquence, but especially for his exemplary attachment to the Catholic faith; and we wish his memory and his example would encourage total fidelity to the Church,, a love which sacrifices itself for our neighbor, and the spreading of good studies.

Fr. Semeria was born on the Ligurian coast in 1867. At the age of fifteen he decided to dedicate his life to Christ by becoming a Bamabite. He attended the novitiate in Monza and studied philosophy and theology in Rome where he was ordained a priest in 1890.

In 1895 he was transferred to Genoa, at St. Bartholomew's, which will become the center of his future activities. Many of the young people of Rome, already captivated by the young Semeria's energetic spirit, sent their good wishes when he departed. He was thought of as a "most beautiful, noble, sincere, loyal soul, and of high intelligence" the 18 year old Eugenio Pacelli, future Pius XII, wrote for the occasion. Fr. Semeria spent the next twelve years with the young people in Genoa. "Oh, the beautiful time spent with the young people of all ages! I never got bored with them. And as I remember all and gladly I see them again, so also it seems to me they are not unhappy when they encounter me."

He became director of the "St Alexander Sauli Club," where he supervised the teaching of religion as well as sport and theater activities for the young, which, at that time, were looked upon with suspicion. He founded the Superior School of Religion, and initiated many charitable activities. The culture people of Genoa were drawn to the church "Alle Vigne" to hear his Sunday sermons.

Fr. Semeria 
In 1897 the 30 year old Semeria traveled back to Rome to deliver the Lenten sermons in St. Lawrence in Damaso. Every day a crowd of people, Romans and foreigners, including Queen Marguerite and the future Benedict XV, would pack the church two hours before the sermon. This stupendous success was Fr. Semeria's baptism as a great sacred orator. From that point on he did not restrict himself to preach solely in Italy. He traveled In France, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Asia, Africa and America to deliver his powerful sermons. He gained fame for his sermon before the International Eucharistic Congress at Cartage. He spoke on any event, happy or sad, church or State related, interpreting the feelings of the Church or of the civic community. Any and every them belong to him, from the launching of a new vessel to the profile of a thinker. Someone once wrote; "The only sermon he lacks is on the devil's horns!"
In 1912 this naturally gifted orator was forced into a silent exile in Brussels. The battle against Modernism was sparing no one. Fr. Semeria's heart was broken, but he obeyed. He spent two years of forced silence and inactivity, helping the Italian immigrants.

In 1915 World War I brought him back to Italy. At the personal request of General Louis Cadorna, Fr. Semeria became the chaplain of the Italian Supreme Command. A new page was opening in his life. Homilies, conferences, conversations. Masses on the front, confessions, visits to the wounded... He was going through piles and piles of correspondence for those who were asking him the most unexpected requests. He would run where the danger was the thickest to encourage men to duty.

In the full fury of the war he wrote: "I and others like me, had the delicate task to face the soldiers who were carrying on that horrible duty, summarized in two words, of which I do not know which one is the most atrocious and repugnant: kill and die. It was a duty, it was a need. At more length I shared this ministry with Fr. John Minozzi, a nice fellow from Abruzzi, an incomparable animator. We promised to ourselves and to the soldiers -1 with my speeches, he with his conversations - that we would not forget their children. We made that promise often and with more insistence to those of the South. At the conclusion of the Armistice it was our duty to keep the promise."

By 1919 two orphanages were in project: one in Amatrice (Rieti) and the other in Gioia del Colle (Ban). Yet the money to finance both projects were very low. Fr. Semeria left for the United States to appeal to the hearts of the Americans. With his tremendous sense of adaptation he felt at home right away. He spoke in churches, in theaters, in halls, and at town meetings. Many were astonished by his bearded figure with such a picturesque and disorderly style.

"When," Fr. Semeria wrote, "...after a summary description of heroic gestures of Italy and its soldiers during the three years of the colossal war, I would plead for the orphans, children of our fallen soldiers, tears would wet their cheeks; and when, shortly after, I would come down to extend my hand, dollars would rain in my hat: that historical hat which has seen in its inside thousand of dollars, and I am ready to give it as a gift to anyone who would give me a thousand liras for my orphans."

Fr. Semeria returned to Italy tired but happy, with thousand of dollars for his orphans. He did not force his orphans to study, instead he directed them toward vocational traits so much needed at that time. In only five years nine shelter-laboratories in Calabria, eleven in Basilicata, four in Campania, and three in Abruzzi flourished. Fr. Semeria founded also fourteen summer camps on the Alps and one on the shore in Monterosso (La Spezia). Today, under the direction of the Disciples of Don Minozzi, there are about one hundred centers with schools, laboratories, and shelters.

From this time on, Fr. Semeria's theology of the "heart" was replacing the theology of the "mind." The books, conferences, homilies, publications, and everything he worked on was directed towards his orphans. He was constantly on the move to "sell himself," as he was fond of saying. His last speech was in Montecassino. He went up, shivering with fever, but still smiling, with fourteen boxes of books to all. When he was taken back to his orphans in Sparanise (province of Caserta), he collapsed with exhaustion. Fr. Semeria, father of the orphans, or better the humble "servant of the orphans," died in their midst on March 15, 1931. As he laid in bed his final words were: "I do feel that I should have done more and better. I ask God's forgiveness for not having done it. I exhort you to charity. Live in charity."

When his mortal remains were brought back to Rome to his Bamabite house in Via Chiavari, they were wrapped in the Italian flag as a national hero. This exemplary man of Religious Life showed in life and in death what does it mean to truly live as a man of God and as a Bamabite.

 More on Fr. Giovanni Semeria on Wikipedia (Italian)


A biography of Father Giovanni Semeria co-founder with  Fr. Giovanni Minozzi of National Opera of the Mezogiorno Italy
(Opera Nazionale per il Mezogiorno d'Italia).

The Videos uploaded video by Barnabite Fathers, and placed on You tube by the Fathers Family Disciples, by the National Opera for the south of Italy. A documentary on the great figure of Father Giovanni Semeria.

(In Italian )

 Part 1


A commemoration of the 80th of death of Fr. Giovanni Semeria, a reference to the history and the Homily of His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of 75 °. , A Secretary of the State (The Holy See) 

The spirit of  Fr. Semeria continue to live on in our times

Our Mission
Our mission is to restore the violated rights of children and youth, providing them with nurturing safe homes, support, protection and education based on Christian values in order to properly reinsert them in the community and if possible with their families.

We currently operate 3 safe homes for a total of 130 children and adolescents (ages 8-18), where we provide them with basics such as shelter, food, education, and health care, nurturing relationships, opportunities for optimal development, and protection from harm. In this way, we help break the cycle of violence and delinquency before it starts. Some of the boys and girls that once were in our home are today teachers, police officers, corporate employees, that were able to build a family and are a positive influence to society.