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Cardinal Barbarigo

hroughout his life, Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo was consumed by the love of Christ. He literally despoiled himself of his own belongings to take care of the poor. He lavished his attention on the elderly, the incapacitated, and the sick. In times of disasters - the earthquake of 1695 and the epidemic that devastated the Venetian fleet - Cardinal Barbarigo's gentleness and charity reached heroic proportions when he opened his residence to the victims, providing beds, doctors, medicine, and becoming their pastor, nurse, and loving father. Barbarigo's strength was drawn from his regimen of intense prayer and recollection. In the solitude of retreat, he wrote, "Being a bishop consists in serving people, helping the poor, weeding out vice, implanting virtue and wiping away scandal at the cost of personal suffering and persecutions, at the cost even of one's life."  


He was the good and watchful shepherd of his flock - the saintly shepherd who spent himself for his flock. When advised to moderate his activities, he would invariably reply, "A bishop who does not die with crozier in hand is not a good bishop." While he was generous with others, Cardinal Barbarigo was thrifty and disciplined, and he resolved that 'not a cent be spent for his comfort.' Detached from his relatives, he would often say that his 'income was the property of the Church' and could not be distributed except to the poor. With utter disregard for his own needs, he used his entire patrimony to provide for the Seminary, for the poor, and for the Religious Teachers, He used to say that "it is a Bishop's glory to die with nothing to his name."  


Love of God and love of neighbor were so powerful, so singular and outstanding in Cardinal Barbarigo as to set him apart as an extraordinary man in a critical and decadent age. He taught that age how to practice the commandment of love. Cardinal Barbarigo believed, as did Lucy Filippini in the educational merits of the school, and he shared her labors, concerns, and successes. In the corrupt society of those times, the schools assumed a role that was uplifting as well as educational. Young ladies and women were renewed in spirit and became a leaven of Christian life among their contemporaries. He made his Teachers increasingly aware of their mission as educators in the Faith, instructing them and encouraging them to persevere. He was their spiritual father and guide. With the example and the stimulus of this saintly shepherd, Lucy's schools became light to the intellect and fare to the will.  


Word of Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo's saintly death on May 26, 1706, spread far and wide. People hastened to Montefiascone to offer homage and extend tributes of affection as they prayed to their saintly leader and father. Excitement filled the air. People spoke of miracles which were recorded. The consensus was that they had lost their protector and friend. Cardinal Barbarigo was a great citizen, an ingenious organizer, a seventeenth century apostle who belongs in the company of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Charles Borromeo.


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