During the audience of February 23, 2023, our Holy Father Pope Francis authorized Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, to promulgate the Decreto super virtutibus et fama sanctitatis for Br. Giuseppe da Sant’Epidio a Mare, born Giuseppe Bocci, a priest-friar from the Province of the Marches. The Servant of God was born in La Corva, a hamlet of Sant'Elpidio a Mare on March 15, 1885. At his baptism, he received the name Giulio Giuseppe Patrizio. While still an adolescent, Giulio and his brother Riccardo were taken by their father to the Capuchin community in Fermo with a request to be admitted to religious life. On March 20, 1898, at the age of thirteen, Giulio was invested with the Capuchin habit, and on June 2, 1900 in the Camerino friary he began his novitiate year, receiving the clothes of probation and his new name: Br. Giuseppe da Sant'Epidio. On June 20, 1901, he made temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; on September 23, 1905 in the Cathedral of Pesaro, he received the tonsure and the four minor orders. In 1907, in quick succession, he made his perpetual profession on Nov. 2; the subdiaconate on Nov. 3; the diaconate on Dec. 14; and finally, on Dec. 21, 1907, he was ordained a priest. The twenty-three-year-old Servant of God celebrated his first Mass in the Capuchin church of Pesaro on Christmas night.
Having completed his studies, the Servant of God received his first obedience: the post of vice-master of novices at the friary of Camerino. In September 1910 he was transferred to Jesi as director of high school students, and the following year was assigned at Montegiorgio as "president" of the Capuchin fraternity. After a year in September of 1912, obedience called him to the community of Cingoli as the master of the Collegiate and later, in 1915, also as "President" of the fraternity.
When the First World War broke out, the Servant of God was recalled into service and assigned to the VII Health Company stationed in Ancona and then assigned in succession to hospitals in Genoa, Costa Maser, Minerbe and finally Thiene.
After being discharged, he returned to the province, and was reassigned to the Cingoli friary as "president" and teacher in the Seraphic College and, shortly thereafter, in Civitanova Marche. With the transfer of the studentate to Pesaro in 1928, the Servant of God was also transferred to Pesaro.
In 1932, he officially founded l’Opera delle Vocazioni (“Work of Capuchin Vocations”) and devoted himself as editor of the magazine “Pace e bene.” As director of the local Franciscan Third Order, he began to gather a dedicated group of girls and women who would soon zealously and devoutly dedicate themselves to priestly and religious vocations. From this initial group, the Franciscan Vocation Sisters were born in 1943. On Jan. 6, 1945, the first two women began life together in a wing of the Pesaro friary and then moved, in 1949, to the Casa Francescana built especially for them.
The Servant of God would carefully follow the “Work of Capuchin Vocations”, as well as the development of the Franciscan Vocation Sisters as an institute, which between 1960 and 1972 opened houses in Spello, Bari, Castelmonte, Loreto, Salvador, in the State of Bahia in Brazil, and Corinaldo.
The Servant of God spent the last years of his life in prayer and in the silence of his own cell where he died on November 23, 1974. Buried in the Pesaro cemetery, since October 21, 1995, the mortal remains of the Servant of God have rested in the church of the Capuchin Friars of Pesaro.
What stands out about this Servant of God is his having lived with intensity the call to religious life and priestly ministry in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin without any flashy manifestations or portents, but doing all things well in the ordinary. The secret to his imitation of Christ lay in the unitive contemplation of Christ Crucified, which sustained him throughout his arduous vocation work and during various times of difficulty, misunderstanding, humiliation and disappointment he had to endure, in addition to his fragile health.
From Capuchin spirituality he had received the gift of living poverty as well as detachment from self, the spirit of sacrifice, reliance on Providence and open trust toward all. His simple and subtle gestures which indicated patience, calm and serenity had their source in prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist.
He also possessed an animated love for the Church which he recognized as the sacrament of salvation for humanity – the living and working presence of Jesus himself who asks for man's cooperation in building the Kingdom of God. This made him a tireless advocate for cultivating, supporting and praying for priestly vocations, entrusting all his works, as well as his commitment toward his own sanctification, to Mary, the Virgin made Church.
The diocesan inquiry into the life, virtues and reputation for holiness of the Servant of God that commenced in Pesaro on Sept. 29, 1995, finds its first stage today with the recognition of heroic virtues. A miracle would open the way toward his beatification.
Br. Carlo Calloni, OFMCap.