Giorgio La Pira considered his uncle, Luigi Occhipinti, as a kind of second father; he had taken Giorgio in as a boy and looked after him until almost the end of his university years (…for you, my dear uncle to whom I feel ties of authentic filial affection, I cannot refrain from wishing that all good may descend unto your heart to lighten your days and herald an ever brighter future …).

This immense gratitude is, however, marred by the hostile stance that Occhipinti took towards the Church and what he considered to be “excesses” in his nephew’s faith, with the latter missing no opportunity of pushing him to change his attitude.

(…) Dear uncle, I pray you to look at your life from this point of view, to view thus the very reason you called me, a mere ten-year-old boy, to Messina (and in so doing enabling me by study to become part of the social body and thence into the dramatic course of world history!) – to view the whole sphere of your tireless labours in this perspective, the good you did in every way for so many years and the disinterested generosity that has been a hallmark of your whole life. (…)

(…) The time has come for you to formally re-embrace the Church of our Lord in the body of Christ that you belong to by its baptism. Re-embrace it with joy in the awareness of the call endorsed with a wealth of fruitfulness: it is our Lord calling you through all these “voices” that come to you from all directions to happily come into His citadel – the city of grace, peace, love and hope, the first glimpse and anticipation of the eternal city.


Click here to read some sentences of a letter La Pira wrote to his uncle in 1925 (Letter of a salesman) . At that time he was working for him while he was studying at the University of Messina.

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