Born in Tortorici, Italy, May 22, 1885.
First vows at Notre-Dame-de-L’Osier in 1902.
Perpetual vows in 1903.
Ordained a priest in Rome in 1908.
Deceased at Ripalimosani, May 4, 1963.
Vincenzo Anzalone was born in Tortorici, Sicily, on May 22, 1885. After completing his primary studies, he went to Villa del Drago in Rome where he completed his “ginnasio” and high school studies in six years under the forceful direction of Father Gaetano Destro. At the age of sixteen, he entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame-de-l’Osier. He made his first vows in 1902 and his perpetual oblation the following year at Roviano. Meanwhile, he attended the Gregorian University, where he obtained his doctorate in philosophy, to which he added one in theology at the Saint Thomas Academy.
He was ordained a priest in 1908. After a year at the scholasticate in Rome, he went to Santa Maria a Vico to teach. During this time, he was preparing for the baccalaureate examination which would open the doors for him to the University of Naples. In 1913 he moved to the house in Via Ascensione in Naples. It was a rented apartment near Via Chiaia, where Father Cassien Augier, who had resigned from his post as Superior General a few years earlier, was the guest and chaplain of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux. After four years of university studies, he obtained, with the maximum number of votes possible, his doctorate in letters, with a thesis on the famous treatise, De regimine principum, attributed to St. Thomas. Father Augier gave the new doctor a breviary with an inscription on the front page. Father Anzalone would always remain grateful and attached to the ex-superior general to whom he would bring the comfort of his affectionate and grateful presence during his entire life.
He immediately resumed teaching at the apostolic school — a methodical, lively, solid, enlightened, incisive teaching for an intellectual and moral formation — until the Italian scholasticate was established, first at Onè di Fonte, and then at San Giorgio Canavese. He was its superior and moderator twice for a total of nine years. He continued as a professor, of sacred eloquence, Italian and Latin literature, history, biblical Greek, and philosophy. He adapted himself as needed. He was an example of love of duty, of ardor at work, of attachment to the rule and regularity, and of a spirit of sacrifice. He was a man of principles and maintained a perfect harmony between what he preached and what he practiced himself. In San Giorgio, he was also master of novices for the brothers.
He was master of novices at Ripalimosani for one year. From there he went to replace the outgoing superior of the apostolic school in Santa Maria a Vico. He resumed teaching which, towards the end of the Second World War, he would continue at the apostolic school in Florence. To rest after a sudden cardiac weakness, he received an obedience for Onè di Fonte, where he served as chaplain to the Sisters of Maria Bambina. But since he had been working for a long time on a biography of the Founder, after several years of fruitful ministry, it was decided to send him to the General House to pursue his research for the text which he could then write at his ease in the neighboring house of Santissimo Crocifisso.
Once his work was ready for publication, he sought refuge in the solitude of Ripalimosani. There, he continued to contribute to the life of the novitiate by his edifying words and his exemplary life. He stripped himself of the last dross of his fiery nature. Purified by frequent prayer before the tabernacle, meditation on death, contemplation of the passion and death of Jesus, by the daily exercise of the Way of the Cross and the rosary, which he recited several times a day, and by austere penance, he prepared for the final journey that came on the evening of May 4, 1963, the first Saturday of the month of Mary. To welcome him, there was the Founder, for whom he had nurtured so much love and devotion, and of whom he had spoken so many times to the scholastics and novices; he was welcomed with the indulgence that the good and faithful servant of the Rule and of the Congregation deserved, something that he certainly had in common with him. Most certainly, the Founder discovered in his biographer, who was also subject to the fury of the mistral, that mixture of strength and gentleness which had perhaps marked him too much before the closeness of Sister Death made him fully docile to the soft breath of the Spirit. The last words of his diary are: “My soul is like a weaned child within me. Like a weaned child resting against his mother. (Ps 130), O God … O Mary!”
Francesco Trusso, O.M.I.