GTranslate Up Top

English French Italian Portuguese Spanish
separator barseparator barweatherseparator bar

Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli

Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli was born in the city of Fiume/Rijeka on May 1, 1933. He is the sixth of twenty-one children born to the Servants of God Settimio Manelli and Licia Gualandris, whose causes of beatification are now pending in Rome.

At an early age, he moved together with his family to the area surrounding San Giovanni Rotondo, where the celebrated Capuchin priest, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, lived. It is impossible to speak of Fr. Stefano’s youth without mentioning the decisive role played by the Saint, who became his confessor, catechist and spiritual director. Little Stefano received his First Holy Communion from the stigmatized hand of Padre Pio in 1938, and in the succeeding years he served the priest’s Mass hundreds of times.

Following Padre Pio’s counsel, he entered the Minor Seminary of the Conventual Franciscans at Copertino on December 8, 1945, at the age of twelve. He made his first profession of vows on October 4, 1949, and his solemn profession on May 27, 1954. He was ordained a priest on the Solemnity of Christ the King, October 30, 1955. In 1960, he completed his Laureate in Sacred Theology at the “Seraphicum” in Rome, after defending his thesis on Peter Auriola’s doctrine on the Immaculate Conception. He then taught theology (Patristics and Mariology) at various seminaries of his Order, at the Archdiocesan Seminary of Benevento and the Institute of Religious Sciences in Avellino. He was later named Prefect of Studies for the Conventual Province of Naples.

At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Stefano began an intensive period of study and meditation on the early Franciscan Sources and the writings of the great Franciscan saints, in order to delve as deeply as possible into the authentic roots of the spirituality of St. Francis. He looked, in particular, to the figure of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe as a luminous example of how to faithfully live out the charism of St. Francis in the modern era.

With the permission of his Minister General, and following the counsels of Padre Pio (who had died in 1968), Fr. Stefano drew up a practical blueprint for returning to the pure roots of Franciscan life, by giving the fullest possible expression to the Marian dimension of St. Francis’ own life and Rule. On August 2, 1970, Feast of St. Mary of the Angels, he began living this new form of Franciscan life together with Fr. Gabriele Maria Pelletieri, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Counsel, in Frigento.

Fr. Stefano was the superior of Casa Mariana (as the new community was called) from 1970 to 1973 and again from 1979 to 1982. He was Novice Master from 1972 to 1982, and served as Minister Provincial of the Conventual Province of Naples for three consecutive terms, from 1982 to 1988. On November 1, 1982, Frs. Stefano and Gabriele founded the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Novaliches (Manila, the Philippines).

Fr. Stefano was Rector of the Theological College of St. Bonaventure in Benevento from 1988 until 1990. When Pope John Paul II erected the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate as a new Religious Institute, on June 23, 1990, Fr. Stefano was chosen as Minister General. He is now serving his fourth consecutive term. Fr. Stefano is also the founder, together with Fr. Gabriele, of a lay association called the Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix (1990) and, more recently, of the Poor Clares of the Immaculate (2002).

A number of Fr. Stefano’s publications are available in English translations, including:

  • Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love
  • All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed
  • Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
  • Devotion to Our Lady
  • Come & Follow Me
  • Blessed John Duns Scotus: Marian Doctor
  • The Marian Vow
  • As well as various Mariological conferences published in Mary at the Foot of the Cross: Acts... (8 volumes)

Our Co-Founder: Fr. Gabriele Maria Pelletieri

Fr. Gabriele was born at Vaglio Basilicata (Potenza) on June 11, 1940. In Baptism, his parents gave him the name Antonio. At the age of ten, he entered the Minor Seminary of the Conventual Franciscans at Ravello. He pursued his classical studies at St. Anastasia’s in Naples, then studied at the Conventual Seminary in that same city. It was there that he met Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli, who was first his Choir Director and then his professor. He took the religious name of “Gabriele,” and made his first profession of vows on September 17, 1957.