Doyen of Exorcists Dies - Father Matteo La Grua, "Am just a servant of my Lord"
(Palermo) Yesterday Father Matteo La Grua was burried in Palermo, Sicily. The world-class Exorcist belonged to the Friars Minor. Father La Grua was a judge at the Supreme Court in Church of the Sacred Rota in Rome, a professor of ascetical and mystical theology at the College of the Franciscan Order and the Archbishop's Seminary of Palermo. These are just a few key words describing the rich work of the Franciscan, who was a spiritual guide to thousands of believers. Father La Grua represented a Franciscan who strove always while returning to the origin of the Order in St. Francis of Assisi. A permanent opening of the man towards brotherhood, peace, hospitality and total dedication to the ordained priesthood. Father Matteo La Grua was at the international level, the doyen of the exorcists of the Catholic Church. In 1975 he was appointed by Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, Archbishop of Palermo. As his confessor, Father La Grua was entrusted with the spiritual leadership of the Charismatic Renewal of the Archdiocese.
His Successor as exorcist of the Archdiocese of Palermo is now the Franciscan Fra Benigno, a disciple and companion of Father La Grua. The Exorcist was considered by the Franciscans of Palermo as a "living patron saint" of their city torn by crime and the mafia. He saw himself only as a "servant of the Lord" with the command to "go" comfort and heal. Accordingly, he saw his main task as a special confessor and as an exorcist. When asked about cases of demonic possession, Father Matteo replied stereotypically with the sentence: "I'm not going to discuss it." But he was eager to discuss evil and the demonic activity in the world.
Father Matteo La Grua was born on 14 February 1914 in Castelbuono, Sicily, close to the magnificent Norman cathedral of Cafalù. After joining the Friars Minor he was ordained priest in 1937. According to church law, he was already "retired". "For a priest, there is no retirement," he used to respond to those inquiries who asked why an over 90-year-old was still so active. Last Sunday, Father La Grua died shortly before his 98th Birthday in Palermo.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi