“Catania Italy Saints: Profiles of Faith,” Ensign, July 1994, 75–76
At first Luigi Brucchieri didn’t want to hear what Latter-day Saint missionaries had to say when they knocked on his door in Germany. But intrigued by what he heard, Luigi accepted a pamphlet about Joseph Smith and, the next evening, a copy of the Book of Mormon. Less than two weeks later, he was baptized.
Having worked seven years as a farmer and paint factory worker in Germany, the Italian convert now wanted to share his testimony of the restored gospel with his countrymen. He left Germany and traveled south through Italy to eastern Sicily. The Church had not yet been established there; but in response to Luigi’s request, Church authorities sent missionaries to Catania. Thus, on 27 March 1967, nearly a year after the reopening of the Italian Mission following a century-long hiatus, the Catania Branch was formed, with Luigi Brucchieri serving as president.
Today members of the Catania Branch fill the seats of a beautiful new chapel. And at seventy-three years of age, Luigi Brucchieri, still ignited by missionary fervor, serves as a district missionary.
“I always wear my district missionary name tag,” he says. “The Church here is ready to grow. I’ve prayed a lot for my country.” Such enthusiasm and dedication are also common among other Saints in Catania.
Catania, second largest city on the island of Sicily, is an important commercial and fishing port, exporting a rich harvest of olives, oranges, lemons, and grapes. The city has enjoyed many prosperous eras since its founding by Greeks in the late eighth century B.C. However, silhouetted against the sky is majestic Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, which time and again has erupted, burying Catania in a sea of ash and lava. But just as often, the resilient Catanians have rallied to rebuild from ruin until today the bustling city again stands as a prime example that “the field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4).
Consider the story of 21-year-old Tiziana Puglisi. Walking down Via Etnea, she met Latter-day Saint missionaries who invited her to an English class they were teaching at an LDS chapel. Arriving there on the wrong day for the class, Tiziana met another missionary, who sparked her interest in the Church.
On the following Sunday, Tiziana attended a baptism and felt a wonderful spirit as mission president George R. DeWitt spoke in English about the Holy Ghost. She read the Book of Mormon in one month, and two days after her baptism she completed the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as well. All this study fortified Tiziana in her decision to be baptized and to put the Church first, she says.
Such faith sustains Catanian Saints as they confront public misconceptions about Latter-day Saint beliefs and other cultural challenges.
“It is difficult to live in a family who are not Church members,” says Daniela, a mathematics teacher and wife of Catania Branch president Paolo Battezzato. She explains how difficult it is for young couples to marry in Italy, where custom dictates they have everything in order—education completed, a steady job, and a home and furnishings acquired—before marriage. But “the Church helps me make the important choices in my life,” she says, referring to how she and Paolo decided to marry at a comparatively young age. They were sealed in the Frankfurt Germany Temple.
Catanian Saints have a positive outlook that encourages them to always live the gospel and shines as an example to others.
“We have to enjoy life,” says President Battezzato, who works as a microelectronics technician. “Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. We can help others be happy also.”
One way to help spread that happiness is by serving a mission, as Tiziana Puglisi plans to do. She knows firsthand of the gospel’s power to transform lives: “I am more optimistic now about life. I have lived with people who are always sad and have told me to ‘prepare for the storms.’ Now that I am a Latter-day Saint, I feel more content and secure. I have established objectives for life. I finally know what I want to do tomorrow.”
Catanian Saints reflect courage and resiliency—knowing that in Catania they are helping build up not only a city but also the kingdom of God and a testament to their faith.