[After the October 25, 2009 Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]
I offer a special greeting first of all to the thousands of faithful gathered in Milan, in the Piazza del Duomo, where this morning the liturgy of the beatification of the priest Don Carlo Gnocchi was celebrated. He began as a sound educator of boys and young men. In the 2nd World War he became the chaplain of the Alpini (The mountain infantry of the Italian army), with whom he participated in the tragic retreat in Russia. It was then that he dedicated himself completely to a work of charity. Thus, in Milan during reconstruction, Don Gnocchi worked to "restore the human person," gathering orphaned and mutilated boys and offering them help and formation. He gave all of himself to the very end, and dying gave his corneas to two blind boys. His work continued to develop and today the Don Gnocchi Foundation is on the cutting edge in the care of persons of every age who need rehabilitative therapy. As I greet Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, and I rejoice with the Ambrosian Church, I make the motto of this beatification my own: "Alongside of life, always."
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
...and from what Zenit reported:
Blessed Gnocchi (1902-1956) is remembered as a hero of solidarity with victims of World War II. He was called father for the mutilated and of combatants' orphans, since the center he created offered rehabilitation to those who suffered as a consequence of the war.
"Rather than a political or economic crisis, there is a profound moral crisis, more than that, a metaphysical crisis," he wrote in 1946. "As such, it affects all peoples because it touches man and his existential problem."
Father Rodolfo Cosimo Meoli, the postulator of Father Gnocchi’s cause for canonization, told ZENIT that the priest was particularly characterized by his charity.
"More than virtues, I would speak of ‘the virtue’: charity, on which all the others rested," Father Meoli said. "Also nobility, charity turned into action, tenderness, compassion, hospitality, availability."
The postulator recounted how Father Gnocchi was a volunteer chaplain during World War II.
"Then the tragic experience of the retreat from Russia matured in him the specific plan to offer assistance to orphans of the mountaineers and of many other little innocent victims of the war battles," he continued.
Father Gnocchi created a foundation in 1947 that has evolved into centers that receive patients with various disabilities, as well as patients who are in need of surgical intervention and rehabilitation, elderly people who are not self-sufficient and terminal cancer patients.
The postulator of his cause described the priest as "the modern face of sanctity."
Father Gnocchi saw his vocation "to be light and support, strength and hope for all those he met," Father Meoli said. "His life was consumed in doing good to others. He was an alter Christus, something that every priest, yesterday, today and always, is called to live."