A Catholic politician, defender of the poor

Blessed Alberto Marvelli died on October 5, 1946, was killed at the age of 28, hit by a truck while bicycling to a meeting of the Christan Democratic Party in Rimini, of which he was a leader.

Born and raised in Rimini, Italy, his mother was a major influence in his life – not only for her piety but for her openness to the poor. At times she would take half of Alberto’s meal and give it to the poor. “Jesus has come and he is hungry,” she would say.

He studied in the Salesian oratory in Rimini and later obtained an engineering degree at Bologna University.

He was active in Catholic Action in Rimini and at the university. One of his major concerns was caring for the poor.

After graduating he worked for a while with Fiat.

During the Second World War his family moved out of Rimini, but Alberto would bicycle into the city after the air raids, rescuing people and bringing supplies for the hungry and homeless. He at times returned home without his shoes or bicycle, because he had given them to the poor.

But there is one story about him that touches me deeply. At times during the war he would go to the railroad station, cut the locks on the trains that were carrying people to concentration camps, and letting them go free. One of the rescuers! What courage!

After the war he was put in charge of allocating housing in the ravaged city, where he soon was named a town councilor. he even opened  a soup kitchen.

After the war he joined the Christian Democratic Party, because he saw politics as a way of being faithful and of seeking justice. He was respected by all, even by the Communists. One of them said, “I don’t mind if my Party loses. So long as the Engineer Marvelli becomes mayor”.

He sounds almost larger than life. But I think there may be others like him, hidden sources of love and identification with the poor, who keep our world from falling into chaos.

I found it hard to find many quotes from him, but here’s one to think about:

What a great deal of work is needed in this world which is so far from Christ; it is necessary for us to offer sacrifices; we must act to the utmost of our strength to make Christ known and loved. It is the call of duty we are urged by, and we are obliged to realize it.

Blessed Alberto, pray for us that God may give us courage to be true to God and the poor.


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