Two centuries ago, Venerable Pio Bruno Lanteri, (1759-1830) served the Church in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. It was a turbulent era both in secular society and in the Church. The French Revolution spread an anti-Christian spirit throughout many parts of Europe and sought to undermine the authority of the pope. Those in the Church had to deal with the Jansenist heresy which obscured the truth of God’s love.
It was in this context that the young Lanteri met the Jesuit priest, Father Nikolaus von Diessbach. Under Diessbach, Lanteri made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and had a profound experience of the infinite mercy of God. He became an ardent witness to God’s mercy through intense and varied apostolates as a diocesan priest in Turin. He preached the Spiritual Exercises and popular missions, offered spiritual direction and confession, circulated Catholic books, supported lay and priestly associations, and provided real care for the needy. In all this, he was always careful to guide people with charity. Lanteri always emphasized fidelity to the Church and fidelity to Mary as the certain guiding lights along the path to holiness.
Central to the apostolate of Father Lanteri was his collaboration with certain groups called the Amicizia Cristiana (Christian Friendship) and the Amicizia Sacerdotale (Priestly Friendship) founded by Father von Diessbach. The Amicizie were something new to the times. They were groups of lay people and priests committed to a serious spiritual life, and to making an impact on the culture by circulating Catholic books. Father Lanteri guided and accompanied these groups for many years.
In 1814, three zealous priests came to Father Lanteri for guidance in forming a fraternity dedicated to preaching retreats and reviving the Church. Father Lanteri entrusted the group to the Virgin Mary, whom he always called their Foundress and teacher. The new Congregation was given diocesan approval in 1816. The Oblates continued their important ministry through the years even though they had to temporarily disband due to the disapproval of a local bishop. The young group found greater stability and new life when pontifical approval was given by Pope Leo XII on September 1, 1826. Fr. Lanteri died four years later on August 5, 1830 and was declared Venerable by Pope St. Paul VI in 1965. He is now known as Venerable Pio Bruno Lanteri. Today’s Oblates are working actively to promote Lanteri and hope one day to see his beatification and canonization.
Click on one of the following links to see a documentary on the life of Venerable Lanteri: