Simone Srugi, Salesian of the Holy Land, witness of holiness in daily life

Posted on Mar 1, 2019

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” is one of the biblical verses of the Gospel of John. The facts have shown that it is possible. The Messiah was from Nazareth, the Holy Family lived in this small city of Galilee…but that is not all!

A little more than 140 years ago, a certain Simon Srugi was born in Nazareth! Catholic of Greek-Melkite and Maronite rite, he was baptized and confirmed in this chapel which was the synagogue of Jesus’ time, near the Basilica of the Annunciation!

Not far from there are the ruins of the house where he lived with his family. He lost his parents very young and at the age of 11 he was taken to Bethlehem, precisely to the Orphanage directed by Father Antonio Belloni, founder of the Brothers of the Holy Family, which later became part of the Salesians.

We visited this place, where, besides breathing the atmosphere of the charism founded by Don Bosco, we learned details of the past of this man who lived holiness in his daily life.

Fr. GIANNI CAPUTA, sdb Vice Postulator Simone Srugi “What did he learn here? Most of all the devotion to the Sacred Heart, to Saint Joseph and to Our Lady, because the Congregation of Don Beloni was called “The Brothers of the Holy Family”. And that was what a very sensitive, very diligent, attentive young orphan needed. Here he learned three crafts: the baker, the tailor, and the nurse.”

Every day Srugi walked along these roads to reach the Grotto of the Nativity, where he prayed with the other orphans for the Salesian benefactors… And he discovered a great treasure!

Fr. GIANNI CAPUTA, sdb Vice Postulator Simone Srugi “There, of course Simon was filled with a great love for the Child Jesus. Seeing him so small, so humble, certainly inspired him to have his spirituality characterised by great humility, great simplicity and poverty. If God made Himself poor, humble, suffering, if He faced exile on His way to Egypt, I must imitate Him in these virtues.”

Fr. Gianni told us that Srugi immediately distinguished himself for his mercy and kindness and that in 1892 he was admitted as a Salesian aspirant in the agricultural school of Beit Gamàl, the ancient countryside of Gamaliele.

He lived in a complex social context, marked by wars, poverty and diseases such as malaria… A tortuous path in which he was presented with more than one opportunity to help those in need.

Fr. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO, sdb Director of the Salesian School of Jesus the Adolescent – Nazareth “His Salesian charism was a charism of service, first for the children and young orphans and then especially for the poor who were sick, who truly sought in him the man of God who knew how not only to console, to give medicine but above all to give a word of trust and hope.”

Fr. GIANNI CAPUTA, sdb Vice Postulator Simone Srugi “People used to say that in his hands there were the strength and the grace of God, so when we entrust our sick to him, we are sure that they will recover.”

And the actions of this “Good Samaritan” of modern times were not directed only to Christians!

Fr. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO, sdb Director of the Salesian School of Jesus the Adolescent – Nazareth “I remember very well a former pupil of Betgamàl, a Muslim who, when we spoke of him, immediately began to cry because he remembered the beautiful moments of this man who showed much simplicity by indirectly presenting an image of God and Jesus through his goodness and his service”.

He died in 1943, but his memory remained so alive that in 1966 he was declared a Servant of God and 50 years after his death he was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II.

We could see objects that belonged to him, like small notebooks which preserve his accurate calligraphy, and prayer and meditation books in Arabic and Italian which reveal traits of his spirituality…

The expectation now is that he will be elevated to the altars. For this, proof of a miracle is required!

Fr. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO, sdb Director of the Salesian School of Jesus the Adolescent – Nazareth “Anyone who feels he needs his presence, his intercession, should invoke him, because he has truly given all of himself to others and consequently understands the needs and concerns of so many people who find themselves living in poverty or sickness”.