Blessed Dominic Barberi was born in Viterbo, Italy, on May 22, 1792. At 22, he left work as a farmer and, called by God to religious life, he entered the Passionist congregation. Gifted with a good mind and heart, he was ordained a priest and devoted himself to teaching, preaching, spiritual direction and writing philosophical, theological, and spiritual treatises. His feast day is August 26.
In 1840, he established the first Passionist community outside of Italy in Ere, Belgium. He subsequently went to England where in 1842 he established the monastery of Aston Hall, near Stone.
Blessed Dominic devoted his life to the unity of the Church — a mission God called him to from his youth. He longed for the return of “separated brethren” to the Catholic Church — an expression coined by him. He gave all he had to the Lord for the conversion of England, anticipating by 150 years the present ecumenical movement based on love, dialogue, respect for conscience and mutual discernment.
People found him intelligent, friendly, respectful, caring and faithful to his religious tradition. The Anglican world found him a man of dialogue who brought the fresh air of a new springtime. Through his works, many Anglicans, including distinguished individuals, turned to the Catholic Church. Blessed Dominic received the profession of faith of the future Cardinal and now Saint John Henry Newman, esteemed as “the Pope of the Protestants, their great spokesman, one of the most learned men of England”.
Newman admired Blessed Dominic as a good priest, learned and holy. He stated that he was Dominic’s “convert and penitent”.
Domenic died in Reading, near London, England on August 27, 1849. His grave in Sutton, St. Helens, England has become a place of pilgrimage for the English people. Pope Paul VI declared him “Blessed” on October 27, 1963 during Vatican II, offering him as an example of commitment to ecumenism and joyfully proclaiming him an Apostle of unity.
“Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made me a sharp-edged sword.” (Is 49:1-2)
you sent Blessed Dominic
to seek out the lost sheep of your flock
by preaching your truth and witnessing to your love.
May we follow his example
and build up the unity of your Church
as a sign of faith and love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.