He was born on May 11, 1827 at Meta of Sorrento and was baptized with the name of Aniello Maresca. Not much is known about his family and early life except that he was a student of Nautical Institute. At the age of 17, while he was studying there, he felt that he is being called by God. One day, he knocked at the door of the Convent of Portici to follow his calling to be a priest. He began his Franciscan life in the convent of Sta. Lucia al Monte in Naples under the name of Simpliciano of the Nativity.
Years later, he was appointed as the Superior of the Convent of di Portici where he used a portion of the convent for the free education of poor children.
On June 5, 1869, he went to Aracoeli, Rome as he was appointed to be the Secretary of the General Office of the Recollect and Alcantarini Friars. It is in this place where he would start a very important mission of his life.
While working for his new post, he also heard confession of prostitutes suffering from syphilis at Hospital of the Consolazione. One day, after celebrating the Sunday mass, these prostitutes gathered around him asking him to help them. He replied with assurance.
He went to Fr. General, Fr. Bernardino of Portogruaro and got the permission to form an institution that would help wayward women to work for their living, renew themselves and stay away from prostitution. He founded the Istituto di Sta Margherita which later became the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
After 6 years, he was able to shelter and sent for re-education 200 women.
At the time when more Romans are pushing for the total separation of the state and the church, In 1878, he held a conference on “Whether the Church is or not in the nation “. In the conference, he stood his ground and explained that the state and the church must be together in achieving common good.
Being a devotee of St. Jude Thaddeus, he studied the life of the saint and wrote a booklet about it. He professed that his health got better after praying to St. Jude and advised others to do the same.
Other manuscripts or books that Father Simpliciano wrote were CONSTITUTION AND THE DECLARATION of the RULES and the DISCIPLINA REGOLARE.
CONSTITUTION AND DECLARATION of the RULES has 10 chapters corresponding to the ten chapter of the Third Order of St. Francis.
The DISCIPLINA REGOLARE or the Regular Discipline proposed to the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters “Margheritine”
In 1879, he led the construction of the Hospice of St. Margaret which would house the home for many wayward women.
In 1893, he founded and directed the newsletter called Rehabilitation and Work which contains parish events and other important events in town. It also contains messages from Fr. Simpliciano being the editor of the publication. The last issue of the newsletter was May 1898, which contained the news of Fr. Simpliciano’s passing.
On May 25, 1898. Father Simpliciano died at the age of 71. He called to his room the Sisters and gave them his last blessing.
A year later, on his first death anniversary, Msgr. Stanislao Gentili in commemoration of Father Simpliciano said, “His funeral was a triumph… I remember to have heard people exclaiming that a saint has died, blessed be him “
Up to this day, his memories live in the missionary works of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts in the countries of Italy, Philippines and Columbia.
On July 16, 2015, the title Venerable was bestowed upon him by Pope Francis.
Let us all pray for the beatification of Father Simpliciano of the Nativity, OFM.
Prayer for the Beatification of Father Simpliciano
O Jesus, Good Shepherd, You have enkindled
the heart of Your faithful servant Fr. Simpliciano
of the Nativity with the living flame of Your
love and as a sign of Your compassion, have
guided him in the work for the poor and
abandoned brethren of society, listen to our
humble prayer and glorify this faithful witness of
your love. Let the great examples of his life
teach us to share with the suffering of those
who are in very great need and extreme
necessity. Let our difficult times experience the
radiance of your bounty through witnessing
of your Saints for the salvation of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary
Glorify your faithful servant, Father Simpliciano of the Nativity.
For graces and miracles obtained through the intercession of
Fr. Simpliciano, please communicate with
The Provincial Superior
D. Savio St. Better Living Subdivision
Tel +63 02 88237707
History and Life (Fr. Simpliciano of the Nativity)
By Paolo Di Somma
Catholic World News
8 beatification causes advance
July 17, 2017