Updated: Mar 30
In honor of Veterans Day this past week in the United States; I thought it was only fitting to share some stories and photographs of the young Padre Domenico da Cese's military service from his early years in Florence, Italy - 1925 through various locations through Avezzano, Italy -1946. All photographs were provided by Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner the biographer for Padre Domenico da Cese, O.F.M., Capuchin.
While in L'Aquila, 1923-1925, the young Padre Domenico's studies were interrupted so he could be trained as a paramedic for his military service to begin in Florence.
Below you can see his performance evaluation:
(Excerpts taken from the book entitled: "Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, O.F.M. Capuchin an Illustrated Biography" written by Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner, Vita Communis - Mary, Mother of the Holy Family.)
Padre Domenico went back to L'Aquila in 1937 to complete his studies were he became a military chaplain.
On October 3, 1940 he was called to serve in World War II and was sent to Trieste, Italy. However, before heading to the front he went to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit Padre Pio. It was then that upon seeing Padre Domenico that Padre Pio exclaimed, "Finally I have the honor to see a military chaplain with the cassock". He spent several days with Padre Pio from November 19th to the 23rd.
Based on his postcards to his Provincial he was continually sent to various locations such as: Slovenia - Adelsberg and Bistrica; Italy - Trieste and Avezzano; Croatia - Spalato, Dubrovnik, and Obljaj-Grahovo where the effects of war were seen by Padre Domenico.
On September 26, 1941, the Military Archbishop Angelo Bartolomasi sent a letter to the Provincial of Abruzzi to dismiss Padre Domenico from military service.
"I want to tell you that today I had to order that Father Domenico born Petracca Emidio is dismissed.
He is an excellent religious and there is nothing to say that disgraces his priestly behavior, however he was not able to adjust himself to the duties of a military chaplain and his public speaking was inappropriate, That is why the military authorities asked me to replace him."
Padre Domenico always wanted what was best, to him even during war time which only brought suffering, the religious element was above all the insanity - he could not compromise in his beliefs.
During his military service, Padre Domenico suffered not only spiritually but physically. He wrote the following to his Provincial on October 19, 1941:
"For over a month I have really high fevers, from 105.8 to 109.4 degrees (Fahrenheit), my legs are really swollen and the feet have open wounds which bleed. I always have strong migraines and on top of that I can't even sleep."
Could this have been the beginning of the stigmata?
On October 18, 1941 while still in Croatia, the crucifix of his rosary began to bleed before Mr. and Mrs. Basso. ( This crucifix is now on display in the small chapel dedicated to Padre Domenico inside the Basilica of the Volto Santo, Manoppello, Italy.)
When Padre Domenico's military service ended he returned to Avezzano, Italy to continue his life as a humble priest offering everything he did for the good of souls and as he wrote in an essay, "All for Jesus!" He dedicated himself to the cross and the rosary was always in his hands.