Biography of The Servant Of God Michael Ansaldo
Birth of Michael Ansaldo
He was born to a noble couple who was from a noble family, which was a very pious and God-fearing family. This pious couple was blessed with two male children, the elder one is Joseph Ansaldo and the younger one is Michael Ansaldo. The eldest son was born in the year 1737 and was named Joseph Ansaldo because in Europe there is a custom to name the eldest son in the family as Joseph, thus the brother of Michael Ansaldo was named Joseph Ansaldo. And the younger son, our Servant of God Michael Ansaldo was born on 29th September, at Messina, in the year 1739 on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel thus, his parents named him Michael Ansaldo. Ansaldo did his primary and higher secondary education in three different places namely at Caltagirone, Siracusa and Messina in which the Jesuit fathers instruct the children and the youth. Michael Ansaldo did his primary studies in his home city of Messina in the college of St. Francis Xavier with the adjacent Church of San Giovanni Battista of Jesuits. These institutions were existing since the time of St. Ignatius who is of the 16th century. Also in Siracusa he continued his academic studies in Jesuit college.
Became a Jesuit
On 15th January 1754 when Servant of God Ansaldo was just fifteen years old, he and his elder brother Joseph Ansaldo entered the Society of Jesus (Novitiate) at Messina. At that time Rev. Fr. Simone Castiglia SJ was Rector and novice master. After their novitiate both of them were still considered as young to study philosophy hence, they were sent to study new languages and grammar (grammar of Latin, Italian, Spanish etc..).
In the year 1765 both Michael Ansaldo and his brother Joseph Ansaldo had studied their first-year theology at the College of Massimo at Palermo. Michael Ansaldo studied his second-and third-year theology in the years 1766 and 1767 at Palermo instead his brother Joseph studied second and third-year theology at Messina. At the end of the third year on 19 September, 1767 Michael Ansaldo and his elder brother Joseph Ansaldo both were ordained together as priests at Palermo.
Missionary journey to Pondicherry
Ansaldo made every effort to know about the lives of a few of those missionaries who traveled oceans to preach the good news. With due permission from Rev. Fr. Lorenzo Ricci the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (May 21, 1758, August 16, 1773, November 24, 1775, July 21, 1773 (Suppressed)).
He began his journey soon after his final profession as an obedient Jesuit in the Society of Jesus along with his 5 more companions “Saint-Amour; Busson; Ansaldo; Fabri; Sincére; Jean Baptiste Choiseille”. They have travelled in one of the French ships that was going to India along with the French missionaries. After a long travel of struggling with the wind and bad weather on the high seas, Ansaldo landed in Pondicherry in 1771.
Suppression of the Society and the plight of Ansaldo
In 1764, the Society of Jesus was suppressed in France by an order of Louis XV. The Capuchins of Pondicherry cherished for a while with the hope of taking the place of the Jesuits in the Carnatic Mission. But the French Government did not want to suppress the activities of the Jesuits in its Colonies. However, when Pope Clement XIV in 1773 by his decree Dominus Ac Redemptor suppressed the Society all over the world, the situation changed completely in India. All the Jeesuit missionaries had undergone number of hardships during their mission. The missionaries were reduced in number and receiving no support from Europe, they had to carry on as best they could. Thus, in spite of such crisis as a true missionary, Servant of God Ansaldo loved his mission and continued to serve the Lord through his various missionary activities in Pondicherry. Two former religious of the Society of Jesus, Father Carret and Father Ansaldo, remained alone in Pondicherry, waiting for better days to allow the exiles to return. He was trusting in the providence of God in taking care of his Spiritual daughters, his beloved children and the faithful were entrusted to him by his superiors.
Life at Pondicherry and his missionary activities
Ansaldo was welcomed wholeheartedly by Rev. Fr. MM. Mosaic the Superior of the Jesuit Community in Pondicherry. A Memorandum from Fr. Vernet, dated May 13, 1771, will give us the names of the Jesuit missionaries and their respective positions in Pondicherry: MM. Mosaic, Superior; Coeurdoux, blind; Vernet, Prosecutor; Guirbaldi, in Ariancoupam: Saint-Amour; Busson; Ansaldo; Fabri; Sincere; Jean-baptiste Choiselle, non-priest, apotiquary (brother hood).
Father Coeurdoux started Carmel Convent in 1748 before the arrival of Fr.Ansaldo and proclaimed that he would never be able to forget his convent and that he would be eternally faithful to it; this object of his dearest affections. Then, he entrusted the management of this convent to the Rev. Father Ansaldo who was very pious, highly esteemed, extremely talented, very good at administration. Thus Fr. Coeurdoux he left this life at the age of eighty-two, on 15th June 1779. Father Coeurdoux had entrusted his work to a worthy successor: “Father Ansaldo was a man of genius and a saint. He is an Italian, belongs to the kingdom of Sicily, he was born with an ardent temperament and lively passions; but, he was very gentle, kind, loving, fatherly natured like Saint Francis de Sales. Fr. Ansaldo served as Director and Superior of the Carmel Convent which was entrusted by Fr. Coeurdoux a French Jesuit. He founded the Congregation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga also was the Superior of the three Religious Convents in Pondicherry. He started for the first time a small Ansaldo’s school for Girls and established handloom cotton mills for widows. He worked as a procurator of Malabar mission. He was also in charge over the most of the city of Pondicherry. He taught Catechism in school, at the parish, and in the Cotton mills. He was also nominated as the Delegate of the Bishop Champenois for the Apostolic Visitation to the Capuchin Convent at Madras.
Death of the Servant of God Michael Ansaldo
The Prophet of the 18th century, a Father of hundreds of orphan children, the Director of the Pondicherry Carmelite Convent, the Founder of the Congregation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga and the Apostolic Visitor to the Madras Capuchin Convent. He therefore left on October 16, 1805 for Madras and making the sacrifice of his enlightenment and his tastes (however, what follows has proven that this visit was impracticable then). On the way, he fell ill, we don’t really know how; arrived on the 20th, he was seized with a difficulty in swallowing such that until November 2 he took almost nothing, in spite of all the help that we have been able to give him; the doctors did not understand anything about his illness, and they would have opened it after his death if all the Christians there had not opposed it. The Servant of God Michael Ansaldo died at Madras, in the Capuchin convent, on 2 November on the feast of “ALL SOULS” in 1805.