Blessed Enrico Rebuschini (1860–1938) suffered from depression and occasional nervous breakdowns, but his love for the sick helped him to ascend to the height of virtues and holiness. A member of the order founded by St. Camillus de Lellis (1550–1614), who was profiled last week, Enrico was declared Blessed by Saint John Paul II on May 4, 1997.
Enrico was born in northern Italy on April 28, 1860. He was the second of five children. As a young man, Enrico studied mathematics and did military service. He did administrative work for his brother-in-law, who managed a silk business. However, after three years, Enrico felt strongly that this work was not suitable for him. He felt persistently attracted to religious life. For years, opposition from his father prevented him from following his vocation, but his father finally relented after a long discussion between them in 1884.
Enrico studied for the priesthood in Rome. He did well in school, but from March 1886 to May 1887, he experienced a profound nervous depression. He had to take a break from studies, and after more than a year of rest, the depression subsided. There would be relapses in the future, but they were less prolonged and less serious. The trial of sickness taught Enrico to trust in God. He loved to contemplate the mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the maternal tenderness of Our Lady.
During the summer of 1887, Enrico worked at the hospital in Como. However, he was soon dismissed because, instead of working in his department, he spent his time in the hospital wards at the bedside of the sick. Enrico also made visits to the poor and the sick in their homes. These contacts with the needy, along with the advice of his spiritual director and the reading of the life of St. Camillus, helped Enrico to discern his vocation as a hospitaller (member of the Order of St. Camillus).
On September 27, 1887, Enrico entered the Camillians in Verona. On April 14, 1889, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, the future Pope St. Pius X. Father Enrico made his final profession as a Camillian on December 8, 1891.
Father Enrico remained prone to depression; he again suffered relapses from 1890 to 1891. According to the explanation of Dom Antoine Marie, OSB, “These relapses were a consequence of his predominant fault – a perfectionist nature which led him to spiritual undertakings that did not take his nervous frailty into sufficient account.”
During his depression, Father Enrico also suffered the spiritual trial of being tempted to believe he was damned. His appointment as hospital chaplain helped him to forget himself and to give himself in serving others. Father Enrico experienced relapses of depression in 1895 and 1922, and on both occasions he made remarkable recovery.
As hospital chaplain, Father Enrico had the gift of touching the hearts of hardened sinners. He convinced sinners to make confession and helped them to receive Holy Communion. Father Enrico was a prayerful man who had a great love for the Holy Eucharist and for Our Lady. He also prayed the Divine Office fervently.
At the beginning of May 1899, Father Enrico was sent to Cremona and served as chaplain to the Camillian Sisters. The following year he was named the bursar of his own community, and he served as bursar until 1937. In 1938, his strength was failing.
In early May, Father Enrico received the anointing of the sick, and asked forgiveness of everyone for the bad examples he might have given, for his imperfections, for everything that might have offended anyone. He also asked them to pray for him. Father Enrico died on May 10 at 5:30 in the morning.
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