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That tiny corner of Piedmont, in northern Italy, which centers around Turin has been blessed during the latter half of the nineteenth century with a surprising number of Saints. Don Bosco, Joseph Cafasso, Maria Mazzarella, Joseph Cottolengo, to name a few. Among the list of candidates arriving at canonization is Bishop Joseph Marello.
Joseph was born in Turin on December 26, 1844, the child of Vincenzo Marello and Anna Maria Viale. His parents, who were living in Turin for business reasons, were born natives of San Martino Alfieri, a village nestled in the vine-growing hills near the city of Asti and overlooking the valley of the Tanaro River.
Vincenzo Marello was a devout Catholic and was highly respected by his neighbors for his scrupulous honesty in the management of his business. His wife combined a gentle disposition and a deep faith with an outstanding love for the poor. To the townsfolk of San Martino Alfieri she was affectionately known as “the saint.” A striking example of the profound faith of the couple was that they had their infant baptized on the very same day of his birth.
To paraphrase a familiar Italian expression, the little Joseph imbibed religion with the milk he drank at his mother’s breast. By the time he was ready to take his first steps to the schoolhouse, he had already learned the basic lessons of life on the knees of a teacher no one could ever hope to replace. Death claimed Joseph’s mother when he was about five years old. Vincenzo Marello thereupon decided to return to the home of his parents in San Martino Alfieri, where he could more suitably provide for the education of his two sons. Pilgrimage to Savona
It was in 1856 that Vincenzo took Joseph on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy in Savona as a reward for his high grades during his grammar school studies. It was there that Joseph decided to take the first steps towards the priesthood and begin seminary studies. Upon returning home, Joseph asked his father for permission to enter the Minor Seminary at the beginning of the new term. Joseph’s father was reluctant, at first. He envisioned a successful business career for his talented son, one where he could make a name for the family and provide solace to his father’s declining years. Yet he knew his son’s aspirations too well to cause him the bitter disappointment of a refusal. So he gave his consent and blessing, hoping that he would one day change his mind.