Fra Marcello Fossataro

Marcello Fossataro from Nicotera

Brother Marcello was born in Nicotera, Calabria, in 1565 and as a boy he was weak and suffering from epileptic seizures.

During one of these seizures, he said he had a vision that led him to place himself at the service of the poorest under the protection of the Virgin Mary. Left orphan of both parents, he moved to Rome, where he met the charitable and educational system of San Filippo Neri, who became his model when, arriving in Naples, he took the committment of rescuing groups of abandoned children from the most terrible misery.
They roamed the city, especially after the severe famine of 1589.

Initially the children he gathered were hosted in Forcella, in a house given by a benefactress.

Later, thanks to the success of his formula for collecting offers based on the processional singing of the young people he led, he managed to buy rooms off the Gerolomini, where a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary “del Pilar” (much venerated in Spain and translated into Italian as “della Colonna”) a first small church born there and in the rooms behind, still visible today, he hosted his “boys” and step by step, the classrooms were created for music lessons.

A considerable income came both from the “alms” left directly by the faithful in the church, and from the activity of the children themselves, who accompanied with singing both processions and funeral Masses or other religious events (such as Sacred representations) to which they were called to render service. Subjected to various “pastoral visits” by the successive archbishops of Naples, in the last years of his life Fossataro gradually moved away from the management of “his” Conservatory, where he remained a guest until his death in 1628 and then a long venerated memory.

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