Blessed James Alberione (1884-1971) was born in northern Italy and was one of the greatest pioneers in the field of Catholic media. When asked by his first grade teacher what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said that he wanted to be a priest. An erudite theologian, he earned a doctorate in theology and served for a time as a seminary professor and spiritual director. In his zeal to use modern means of social communication to spread the Gospel, he founded the Pauline family, consisting of 10 religious institutes for priests, religious, and laity.
He was ahead of his time in his ardor for using social communication as a means of spreading the Gospel. His work was so well respected that he was invited to attend every session of the Second Vatican Council as a theological consultant. Blessed Pope Paul VI greatly admired and supported his work, and took the time to visit Bl. James on his deathbed; an hour after the papal visit, Bl. James died. He was buried in the basilica he had constructed in Rome, the Basilica of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Saint John Paul II referred to him as the first apostle of the New Evangelization and beatified him on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2003. His feast day is celebrated on November 26.
From his earliest days, Bl. James manifested a profound devotion to Mary. Shortly after his birth, his mother consecrated him to Our Lady at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Flowers in northern Italy. All throughout his youth, he frequented this Marian shrine and spent countless hours in prayer to Mary. As a priest, he desired that everything be done under the watchful and maternal gaze of Mary. Some of his greatest Marian influences were Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, St. Vincent Pallotti, and Pope Leo XIII. Blessed Alberione’s Marian devotion led to personal sanctification and zealous apostolic activity. For this reason, in addition to stressing the importance of Mary’s motherhood for each Christian, he also emphasized Mary’s important apostolic work as our teacher and Co-Redemptrix. One of his favorite titles for Our Lady was “Queen of the Apostles.”
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