Saint Anthony Gianelli
Early Years

     The bells of St. John the Baptist Church were joyfully proclaimed the feast of Easter on April 12, 1789, when Anthony Gianelli was born miraculously to Maria Tosso and Giacomo Gianelli, in Cerreta. This small hamlet clings four hundred twenty meters up the side of the foot hills of the Western Ligurian Apennines, in Northern Italy, about ten hours from Rome. Anthony was called "Son of the Prayer" because his mother was dying but both the mother and the son survived thanks to their neighbors’ prayers. He received Baptism on April 19 of the same year.

     In spite of the turmoil that rocked Europe at the end of the eighteen-century, the small town of Cerreta remained quiet and uninterested in any revolutionary movement. Most of the inhabitants in town were farmers; thus, it was in this spirit of hard work and respect for the land that Anthony spent his formative years. At a young age Anthony learned to emulate his mother’s faith and piety, his father’s love for work and sacrifice, and their mutual generosity toward the poor and the afflicted.

     Anthony attended classes at a parochial school that Father Francis Ricci had recently opened for the children of the neighboring villages in Castello, a town located forty-five minutes from Cereta.