Neurologically Disabled Physicist – Heroic Virtues Declared

The Servant of God, Fr. Severino Fabriani (1792-1849), had his heroic virtue declared this month. This is the first step towards becoming a Venerable.

Fabriani started out as just an ordinary nerdy Catholic guy. (His dad was a learned physician with a big practice, so it ran in the family.) He went to the seminary for high school, graduated in 1814, stayed on for college seminary while also teaching physics and natural sciences, and was ordained a priest. This all allowed him to further his studies in a wide variety of learned fields. In 1821, he was appointed a member of Modena’s Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Arts.

Then, in 1822, he suddenly got aphasia (the expressing yourself kind, not the lack of understanding kind), which lasted for the rest of his life. (He probably had a small stroke in a bad place.) The situation worsened until he was completely mute, although apparently he got a few words back later.

He was now unable to teach seminary classes, or to sing or say Mass. He was heartbroken, but took the whole experience as an invitation from God to deepen his life of prayer, and to trust in God’s Providence. He also got bigger into apologetics, advocating science studies for priests, and other correspondence and publication.

Fabriani had already taken an interest in the scientific and charitable project of educating girls who were both deaf and mute. He ended up being entrusted with running a school for such girls, and eventually founded an order (the Daughters of Providence) to run schools for the deaf. This order still exists today, and does a lot of work in Italy, Brazil, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka.

Fabriani also wrote books on how to teach Italian grammar to the deaf.

He died in 1849 of an attack of apoplexy (ie, he had another stroke), after trying to save all his papers from a fire coming toward his house.

His order, the Daughters of Providence, has a house open in Rome where tourists can stay. They take anyone, but the house is especially set up for people who are deaf, mute, or both.

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