Milan Monumentale Cemetery
Hundreds Every Day at the Tomb of Fr. Giussani
We reprint an article that appeared in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on November 2, 2005, offering a reporter’s testimony
by Gian Guido Vecchi
“Excuse me, could you tell me where Fr….” “Over there.” Without even waiting to hear the name, the custodian of the Milan Cemetery goes into automatic drive. “Of course, it’s been like this every day since he was buried here, and on the weekends there are over five hundred…” They don’t count heads any more. The pilgrimage to Fr. Luigi Giussani’s tomb is uninterrupted. There are even three ex voto (symbolizing petitions or gratitude for a grace granted) left on the headstone.
The custodian stretches out his arm, “You see those arches down there? Half-way along, turn right into the corridor, and after about 20 yards, you’ll find it.” But you don’t even need to ask. The daisies trace a yellow path leading to the upper story of the Memorial Chapel; there’s a bunch of wildflowers set against the tomb of Alessandro Manzoni, roses for Carlo Cattaneo, a sprig of chrysanthemums on the bust of Giuseppe Verdi. But the visitors flow further down, into the crypt hosting other illustrious Milanese, by birth or adoption. You pass by Giorgio Gaber and Peppino Meazza, Aldo Aniasi and Ambrogio Fogar, Delio Tessa and Giovanni Raboni.
There are flowers from relatives, friends, and admirers; a grandchild has written a letter to Guido Crepax.
Then the passageway is blocked by scores of people, families, young people, a lot of children, who continue to arrive and stand there around the broad blanket of flowers and white and red candles covering the pavement below that simple headstone: Fr. Luigi Giussani, Oct. 15, 1922 – Feb. 22, 2005.” Above, it says, “Oh Madonna, you are the security of our hope!”—words that the founder of Communion and Liberation wrote in his message for the pilgrimage to Loreto on Dec. 16, 2004, celebrating fifty years of the Movement. “This is the most important sentence for the entire history of the Church; it exhaustively expresses all of Christianity. ‘You are the security of our hope’ indicates the flowering of things…” In fact, there is a silence without mournfulness. Someone prays with barely moving lips, others with closed eyes.
A fellow dressed all in leather, with a helmet and handlebar moustache, enters decisively, holding a lit candle, and looks for a spot to place it. “I’ve just arrived by motorcycle from Switzerland.” The three ex voto silver hearts hung on the headstone have no name on them; after all, there’s no reason to ask CL members whether they consider their “Fr. Gius” already a saint. A young blond woman with her daughter’s arms around her neck smiles, “I came here to visit Fr. Giussani.” Even those who pass there by chance stop, amazed, observing, and make the sign of the cross. Milan will not forget that the priest who entered the Berchet High School, firmly resolved to face “the risk of education,” at the time brought along a record player to demonstrate the existence of God. “I made them listen to Chopin, Beethoven…” It must be for this reason that they’re all so serene, the beauty of the faith, as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke of it in Fr. Giussani’s funeral Mass homily in the Cathedral, “This was his great strength: knowing that ‘You are with me.”