Venerable Joseph Gualandi
Priest, founder of the Little Mission for the Deaf
Bologna, 9 June 1826 - 14 July 1907

Daydream of being a missionary. Indeed, we can say that being a foreign missionary was his focal point. It was the Madonna who changed the cards on the table of this very young priest and prepared him for a mission Bologna that he could not even have imagined.

Gualandi, son of a university professor, was born in Bologna on 9 June 1826. Having received from mother earth a versatile and creative intelligence that in 1848, when he was just 22, allowed him to graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts and graduated in theology. In the same year, December 23, he was ordained a priest, naturally always dreaming that he could go far to announce the Gospel because, he said, "I became a priest to serve the glory of God, at the service of the Church, for the salvation of souls..."

Just six months after ordination, on 8 July 1849, during the Mass of First Communion on the feast of the Heart of Mary, his attention was drawn to a young communicant, which even at first sight appears taller than others communicants. It is explained to him that the lady by name Carolina Galuppini, is a deaf-mute and was delayed for her first Communion until they found some ladies of good will, who were able to give her the minimum of religious instruction without which she could never have received Jesus. This was the first strike of lightning that made Fr. Joseph discover the world of the deaf, which for him until then, was completely unknown to him. Due to the fact that all these happened in front of the Marian painting that is venerated in his parish, he considers it a very special grace of the Madonna, which from that moment on, will be present in a very special way in his life.

Determined and strong-willed by nature, he immediately accepted to the facts, and began to study the various methods of communication with the deaf that was existing then. These are mainly pilot experiences, developed from Siena to Modena, in Lombardy, in Veneto and in Liguria. With a good dose of humility and with the sincere intention of learning from those who before him took an interest in this handicap, Fr. Joseph, despite the difficulties of moving at that time, sets off from one center to the other, learning, noting, planning. In these trips he is accompanied by his brother Fr. Caesar, few years younger than him, of poor health, who allowed himself to be involved in the project. To tell the truth, the whole Gualandi family is infected by the volcanic don Giuseppe: the brothers who study abroad kept him updated on the methods adopted especially in France, while the parents granted him a portion of the house to start a first experiment for the reception of young people suffering from deafness. More than a boarding school or an institute, Fr. Joseph imagined one or more "family houses", which guarantee that atmosphere of familiarity considered an integral part of his educational method. Already the following year everyone in his house was no longer there and started renting an apartment and then others, because the deaf arrive in droves. And when it comes to giving continuity to her work, it was still the Madonna who directs Orsola Mezzini, a good girl who puts her life at the service of the deaf, later becoming the first nun and the first superior of the congregation she wants to found, because the deaf have a full-time interest in their human and Christian education.

Thus was born the Little Mission for the Deaf, because Fr. Giuseppe Gualandi always feels missionary, even in his populous Bologna and without having to go abroad, in the land of mission. When he died, on July 14, 1907, he left behind a male congregation, a female congregation and 700 deaf followed, cared for and educated in a myriad of centers, equipped with schools, laboratories, rehabilitation centers always at the forefront, in large part supported and financed with their family assets.

Since April 24, 2001, the Church has recognized the heroism of its virtues and is now awaiting a miracle that will allow his beatification.