VERY REVEREND FATHER GIACINTO M. FACCIO O.F.M Custos of the Holy Land (26.01.1950 - 05.12.1955) Of the Venetian province of St. Anthony of Padua (Start of his rule: 11.02.1950).
His life is the testimony that God, whilst respecting human freedom, intervenes in the life of men. Father Giacinto’s dream was to go to China, but his superiors immediately wanted him to enter further education for the needs of the Province and the war kept him in the Holy Land. His long life came to an end in the Orient. A few months after his tenth birthday, Father Giacinto entered the college of Lonigo, where he stayed until 1927 when he was transferred to the convent of Barbarano in Vicenza for the year of the novitiate which he concluded with his Simple Profession, on 18th September 1928. He completed his gymnasium studies in various convents of the Province: Padua, Verona and Motta di Livenza and when he finished, he made his Solemn Profession on 28th July 1933. He was ordained a priest in the church of St. Ignatius in Rome on 19th July 1936. When they saw his academic results, the superiors immediately sent him to the Pontifical University Antonianum, and not to China as he would have liked, to study theology, graduating summa cum laude in 1939 with the title of Doctor in Theology and General Reader in Holy Scripture after discussing his thesis ’De Divinitate Christi iuxta S. Paulum ad Rom. 9,5’. Sent to the Studium Biblicum of the Flagellation to specialize in the Bible, he studied there between 1939 and 1940, obtaining the diploma of General Reader in Holy Scripture.
When the Second World War broke out, the superiors asked him to return to Italy. He went to Haifa to board ship, but as Italy had entered the war, he was arrested by the British police. Released thanks to Father Eugenio Hoade, he was sent for a few days to the monastery of the Carmelite Fathers on Mount Carmel and then taken to the concentration camp of Emmaus on 5th October 1940. Here in the general attempt not to be overwhelmed by the events, activities and courses were organized for the novices of philosophy and theology. Father Giacinto was asked to teach Moral Theology, Scripture and Canon law.
This is how he unofficially began service in the Custody which was to be recognized officially on 7th November 1941, whilst the religious were still in the concentration camp. In 1943, the religious of Emmaus could return to normal life in their convents. Father Giacinto was sent to Bethlehem to teach Scripture, Dogma and Mysticism and as the Master of novices; he stayed there until October 1949, when he was transferred with the students to St. Saviour. He left teaching on 26th January 1950 when he was appointed Custos of the Holy Land, holding that position until 5th December 1955. It was a period of great activity and intense building throughout the Custody, which was incredible considering that a tragic and exhausting war had just come to an end. One event occupied a special place in the heart and mind of Father Giacinto, who was greatly devoted to the Virgin Mary: the laying of the first stone of the Basilica of Nazareth, independently of the plan that was to be approved.
After his term
At the end of his arduous term of office and a brief period in Bethphage and Amman, he arrived in Egypt on 25th October 1956 as guardian and parish priest of St. Catherine, in Alexandria. He was to alternate this post, more than once, with St. Joseph’s in Cairo. In 1976 he returned to St. Catherine’s, this time to teach the novices. Alongside the tasks assigned to him by the Custody, including as Delegate for Egypt, he held various other posts. He was the Delegate of Monsignor Cayer for Upper Egypt and then Delegate of Monsignor Sampieri for the Vicariates of Alexandria, Port Said and Heliopolis. For many years of his time in Egypt, he was President of the Ecclesiastical Court of the First Instance. He was greatly appreciated in this post for being able to combine a respect for the law with a sense of humanity.
He was transferred to Nazareth with the Chapter of 1986. Perhaps he must have received pressure from those who advised him to devote the last years of his life to the contemplative vocation in meditation and prayer in Nazareth and those who thought he was still needed in Egypt. He wrote to the Father Custos: "I have nothing to give up, I have never given up anything and I will have never have anything to give up in the future." He only asked for clarification because: "Having known the will of God, I will perform it with joy." He returned to Egypt, first to St. Catherine’s and then to Bacos, in Alexandria. With the separation of the region of Lower Egypt from the Custody of the Holy Land, he was advised to stay in Egypt to continue his testimony as a Franciscan in the region he had served for almost 40 years. He opted for the Vice Province of Egypt. A religious of convinced humility, he did not pay attention to the praise of men. He wrote to a Custos: "Old Adam tends to show himself, to stand out, to emerge and at times to excel to become an Excellence. Each person has his charisma!… You remind me that the path to go upwards is that to go downwards… in view of a greater good." However, in this too he remained faithful to his motto "ask for nothing, refuse nothing." He accepted honours from men. First that of the Spanish government of the “Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic", on 12th June 1955, followed by that of “Officer in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy” on 20th February 1963.
The history of men passes, but some fundamental aspects of their lives will always be remembered. The memory of Father Faccio’s goodness will be remembered for a long time. The man of prayer became a sign for his faithful, who often saw him appear in church for a brief or long moment of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Devoted to the Virgin Mary, he constantly kept a rosary in his hand. He was a conscientious parish priest and with the same commitment he looked after the liturgy and visited the sick and in particular the dying. He did not neglect the religious communities and was always ready for days of retreat and confessions. A man who hungered after Paradise. Paradise was the litany he often recited, as a profound desire for all the saints in heaven, the Holy Mother of God, gathered around the throne of the Holy Trinity. He died in Meadi, Cairo, on 19th January 2003.