Thousands of the faithful flocked to Milan's Piazza del Duomo on October 25 to attend the beatification ceremony of one of the city's most beloved priests, Don Carlo Gnocchi. Although Pope Benedict XVI was not present in Milan for the ceremony, he praised the priest in a message from the Vatican, calling Don Gnocchi ‘a great educator of children and young people.'
Born near Milan in 1902, he was ordained a priest at 22. During World War II, he served as a military chaplain in the Italy's Alpini regiment and assisted both soldiers and orphans of the war. After the war, he devoted his life to the needy: ‘It was then that he decided to dedicate himself entirely to works of charity. Thus, as Milan was being rebuilt, Don Gnocchi worked to "rebuild the human person," gathering orphans and child victims of war and offering them help and education,' Pope Benedict said.
Years later he created the Don Gnocchi Foundation for disabled children. It was soon expanded to offer care to people unable to take care of themselves and the terminally ill. At his death in 1956, Don Gnocchi donated his corneas to two blind children.