Born in Marseilles, February 24, 1803.
Taking of the habit, Aix, July 16, 1825.
Oblation, Marseilles, July 13, 1826. (no. 23)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, July 30, 1826.
Expelled, November 3, 1828.
Dispensed from his vows, June 24, 1829.
Nicolas, Léonard Riccardi was born in Marseilles, February 24, 1803. He entered the novitiate at Aix on July 16, 1825 and made his oblation at the end of the General Chapter, July 13, 1826. He had, however, left the novitiate at the beginning of 1826. On February 17 from Rome, the Founder had written to him a letter of rebuke and advice, inviting him to put himself under Father Tempier’s direction. This letter was sent to Father Tempier on February 18 with the injunction: “I have written a long letter to [Riccardi]. I am sending it to you because I want you to have it copied before giving it to him. I think it as well that they should know in future what I think of these harlequins, who have as much of the motley in their soul as those fine citizens of Bergamo have in their costumes.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1826-1830 Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 226, p. 42)
Brother Riccardi was already an ordained deacon as of September 24, 1825. He was ordained to the priesthood in Marseilles by Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod on July 30, 1826. The Oblates took on the directorship of the major seminary of Marseilles in 1827. From 1827 to 1829, Father Riccardi was professor of dogma and Sacred Scripture there, but his conduct was most blameworthy. In addition, at the end of July 1828, he asked the Superior General for a dispensation from his vows in order to take care of his mother and, because, as he claimed, he felt it was impossible for him to conform to the spirit of the society. At the General Council held September 3, 1828, the decision was taken to expel him for various reasons: antipathy toward members of the society, rebellion against his superiors, lack of zeal, harmful example in the congregation, etc.
Already on February 17, 1826, Father de Mazenod had written to him: “But as I cannot entirely divest myself of the feelings with which God inspired me in your regard when I took over your direction, and as it is painful for me to rule for an exclusion which would have such grim results for you, I will decide nothing from here and will refrain from making up my mind until I am on the spot.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1826-1830 Oblate Writings I, vol. 7, no. 225, p. 38) Once again in 1828, the Founder did not dare pronounce a sentence of expulsion. He wanted to “exhaust all means of charity” with regard to this young priest who, in the meantime, was not showing “unambiguous signs of repentance and conversion.” He was dispensed from his vows at the end of the school year, June 24, 1829. In the register for the taking of the habit, the Founder wrote: “Expelled one year too late.”
Subsequently, Abbé Riccardi wanted to become a Sulpician. In a July 26, 1829 letter to Fr. Garnier, Superior General of Saint Sulpice, Father de Mazenod gave Abbé Riccardi the following recommendation: “He is a priest of good morals who taught theology for two years at our major seminary in Marseilles. He is studious and loves community life.” In September of 1829, he received excardination from the diocese of Marseilles to become incardinated into the diocese of Fréjus.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.