The Final Journey

In May of 1895, there occurred the third centenary of the death of the apostle of Rome, St. Philip Neri. The reverend Calasanzian fathers, who had a church in Savona dedicated to this great educator of youth, invited Bishop Marello to attend the feast, which fell on Sunday that year. Always ready to oblige legitimate wishes, our founder kept the commitment he had made long before, and despite his poor health, he went to Savona where the reverend fathers received him with great joy.

He spent a sleepless night, however, and arose extremely weak in the morning. At 7:30 he nevertheless celebrated his Mass, which was attended by a large number of people. After the service, he decided to stay to attend another Mass in thanksgiving. And right at the consecration, while bowing in adoration, he gently fell faint so that his head remained resting on the kneeler for some time. His good secretary realized it and helped him up and into the sacristy. With a little refreshment he seemed to recover somewhat. During the day he would even joke about the event, saying: “Who knows what the people of Savona said on seeing me in that posture. They must have said among themselves: ‘Look how reverent the bishop of Acqui is-he makes such deep bows!'” At 10:30 he was to pontifically preside at the solemn sung Mass celebrated by the vicar general, Msgr. Rosselli, but he was begged to excuse himself and to only impart the threefold blessing of the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon after vespers.

He felt totally exhausted, and yet he always maintained a calm and content expression, so much so that those good fathers greatly rejoiced at having him among them and were edified by his devotion. Our founder did not want to leave Savona without paying his respects to its ordinary, Bishop Joseph Boraggini, who was then away from the diocese. He therefore decided to take advantage of the waiting time to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy.

On returning to the city, he went to visit Savona’s bishop who insisted on having him dine at his table. Though somewhat indisposed, Bishop Marello accepted; but while being shown Pius VII’s room, he fainted and had to be carried to bed. That was Monday. The sickness did not yet seem serious, and so his secretary only telegrammed his vicar general, Msgr. Pagella, that due to the occurrence of a slight illness, the bishop would delay his return to Acqui for a few days.