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The birth of the
"Incurable Hospital"  




Until 1519, she continued to take care of her family, she dedicated herself to charitable works, especially to the patients of the hospital of San Nicolás del Molo.

In 1519, the Genoese Héctor Vernazza came to Naples with the intention of founding a hospital for the incurables. He looked for support from the men in the colony of the Genoese present in Naples, but these did not support him. Together with Father Calisto of Piacenza, he founded the company of the White Fathers, a congregation of hooded men who were going to bring the last comfort to those condemned to death at the moment in which they were executed.

Vernazza, providentially recognized in Maria Lorenza, the right person to carry out this work. In fact, he knew many Spanish nobles. Her healing had made her remarkable to the Neapolitans who also esteemed her for her charity towards the sick. The Mother did not stepped back, and in the face of such proposal, she helped Vernazza to ask for alms, request what was necessary for the hospital, and to speak to the clergymen responsible to process the Document of Foundation.

As Cyril confirms, the Venerable: "She committed and dedicated herself to the service of the poor in the hospital of the incurables, not only with work and manual services but even with their wealth and patrimony. She contributed a lot to the support of the hospital and to the poor".

At this point Mother Maria Lorenza, as a woman, thought she had done everything possible and wanted to retire. And it is at this point that Vernazza assumed a position to convince her to take over the hospital management.

It is read in a letter from Bautistina, daughter of Vernazza:

"My father went to look for her and said: ‘Madam, you are the one that God has ordained that you should govern our hospital.’ And she responded, almost with scorn, that she did not want to do that in any way. And my father said politely: ‘This has been ordained by God, it cannot be done otherwise, it is necessary that it be so.’ And, affirming that that was the will of His Majesty, they fought for a long time and neither of them wanted to give in to their obstinacy; until the Lord changed Mrs. Longo, so that, nevertheless, she had daughters and sons-in-law, she consented in such a way that, together with my father, they went around the houses of Naples asking for mattresses to provide the beds for the sick. She moved to the hospital and managed it; she also did other pious works ... All this makes my father feel so devoted to her, that he even said: ‘If you told me to mutilate my body, I would do it’ “.

Vernazza's invitation was confirmed by an extraordinary episode referred to by Bellintani:

"One morning, when she went to Mass, having her mind fixed on her decision, she felt a voice that said: “Did you love your husband?” And she responded: “Yes, of course, I loved him”. The voice continued: “Do you love your children?” And “Why don’t you love me? Since I have blessed you so much and I have given you back your health?” And she felt enlightened by the Holy Spirit. I consider that this had been said to her so that she would take care of those poor people since Christ was in them. This inspiration was so effective that it made her take the resolution to never leave that work and it reassured her of this holy purpose with ardor of charity. "

The development of the Divine plan is clear. Through the Holy Spirit, Maria Lorenza perceives the divine inspiration and feels called to the tutelage of a people more intimate to the Heart of God: the sick poor. He is The King, it is He who calls his collaborators, it is He who invites her and guides her in a strenuous activity of charity organization.

The hospital came to be the place of love, the place where the daily “yes” of Maria Lorenza is renewed to the divine call. In a short time, next to the hospital, the church of Santa María del Pueblo was erected. It was the throne of the Nazarene, place of the Divine Redeemer present in the divine mysteries of the Church, present in the mystery of human suffering.

In this perspective, we understand an important part of the sanctity of María Lorenza. The venerable loved Jesus as true God and true man. She helped him and healed him through the least accepted, and welcomed him daily in intense and attentive prayer.

"And taking care of the management of that hospital, she despised herself, putting herself at the service of others as a servant; by her own hand she served the sick, especially the most seriously ill, she encouraged and consoled everyone; she was so diligent and effective that the poor sick people felt very comforted and consoled; some of them, even after she had passed away, dreamed that she visited them and consoled them, and they felt comforted as if they had been awake and the fact had been real ".

The hospital

place of charity, holiness, and communion

Lorenza was not alone. In the history of the Church God always builds places of communion and cenacles of holiness. Maria Lorenza was helped in this mission by the noble Duchess Maria Ajerbo that, as we had said previously, after the pain of the loss of her husband and son, she put herself at the service of the Mother and the hospital of the incurables with all their immense patrimony.

As Bellintani refers: "The Duchess of Termoli lived near the Hospital. Before, as is the custom of such Ladies, she attended to the vanity and greatness of the world, but she was familiar with the holy woman and by the strength of her holy words, prayers and virtue, her Christian life was transformed and she was willing to perform all kinds of goods. María Longo saw her as a spiritual daughter, nourishing her with a holy example, admonishing her and inviting her to do good deeds. "

These two women, well respected throughout the city, welcomed the first Capuchin brothers in the hospital and immediately followed San Cayetano de Thiene, who became their spiritual guide and confessor. "The incurable" became the inn of the Samaritans for the sick and the cenacle of charity for doctors and the rich. Lorenza did not forget her roots; she was a strong woman and got in touch with those who shared her initial social status, like Victoria Colonna and Julia Gonzaga, to be able to lead them beyond the paralyzing wealth.

In this sense, she was an authentic educator and put so many hearts on the path of holiness, developing this task with the virtue of perseverance and with generous readiness. She gave birth to many souls, and, when she had given up everything, the Lord invited her to a new spiritual path: to carry on high like a lighthouse, the Franciscan virtues and, to rise to the height of the absolute contemplation of Love Divine Crucified and Risen.

Author: Don Carlo Magna

Light and Shadow

"You think that I did great things....
in nothing of me I trust but all in the Lord".

-Maria Lorenza Longo

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