San Juan Bautista Scalabrini

San Juan Bautista Scalabrini

San Juan Bautista Scalabrini, born on July 8, 1839, in Fino Mornasco, Italy, was a prominent figure whose legacy reverberates through history due to his profound commitment and advocacy for migrants and refugees. As a Catholic bishop, founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Saint Charles (Scalabrinians), and a staunch defender of migrants’ rights, Scalabrini dedicated his life to alleviate the plight of immigrants and displaced individuals, leaving an indelible mark on global humanitarianism.

Early Life and Education

Scalabrini’s upbringing in a devout Catholic household deeply influenced his spiritual and moral compass. His education and formation in theology and philosophy at the seminary in Como, Italy, laid the groundwork for his future vocation. Ordained as a priest in 1863, Scalabrini’s early pastoral work brought him face-to-face with the struggles of migrants, sparking a passion within him to address their hardships.

Advocacy for Migrants

The late 19th century witnessed a surge in migration, primarily from Europe to the Americas, driven by economic hardships and seeking better opportunities. Scalabrini keenly observed the challenges faced by these migrants—poverty, exploitation, discrimination, and a lack of support structures in their adopted countries. Motivated by empathy and a deep sense of justice, he became an unwavering advocate for their welfare.

Scalabrini established shelters, educational programs, and social services to aid migrants upon their arrival, recognizing the need for both material assistance and spiritual guidance. His initiatives aimed not only to provide immediate relief but also to empower migrants to assimilate and thrive in their new environments.

Foundation of the Scalabrinians

In 1887, Scalabrini founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Saint Charles, commonly known as the Scalabrinians. This religious order was specifically dedicated to serving migrants and refugees globally. Scalabrini envisioned a network of priests and missionaries committed to offering holistic support, addressing the multifaceted needs of migrants, and advocating for their rights within host societies.

Under his guidance, the Scalabrinians expanded their reach, establishing missions, schools, and centers across continents, providing invaluable aid and creating a sense of belonging for countless migrants. Scalabrini’s leadership instilled in the Scalabrinians a steadfast commitment to social justice and solidarity with the marginalized.

Contributions and Legacy

Scalabrini’s impact extended far beyond his immediate actions. He authored numerous writings, including pastoral letters, essays, and books, articulating a compelling vision for a more compassionate and inclusive society. His works emphasized the dignity of migrants, the importance of integration, and the obligation of nations to welcome and support those seeking refuge and opportunity.

His advocacy laid the groundwork for modern migration policies focused on human rights and dignity. Scalabrini’s principles continue to inspire individuals and organizations dedicated to migrant and refugee causes worldwide, shaping discussions on immigration, social inclusion, and global solidarity.

Canonization and Continued Relevance

San Juan Bautista Scalabrini’s tireless efforts in defending the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees have led to calls for his canonization within the Catholic Church. His life and teachings remain profoundly relevant, especially in today’s world, marked by ongoing migration crises, displacement due to conflicts, and the need for compassionate responses to vulnerable populations.

In commemorating his legacy, institutions, including Scalabrini centers, educational facilities, and advocacy groups, continue to honor his memory by upholding his values and providing essential support to migrants and refugees.


San Juan Bautista Scalabrini‘s life serves as a testament to the transformative power of compassion and advocacy. His unwavering dedication to the cause of migrants and refugees, coupled with his visionary leadership, has left an enduring legacy that transcends borders and resonates through generations. As the world grapples with complex migration challenges, Scalabrini’s principles of empathy, solidarity, and justice stand as guiding beacons, inspiring collective efforts toward a more inclusive and humane society for all.