A saintly family – sister is beatified
Reading of the Decretum super virtutibus December 21, 1991. Vice postulator: Fr. Gaetano Compri.
Vincenzo Cimatti was born in Faenza on July 15, 1879 to James and Rosa Pasi, last of seven children. Of the three surviving brothers, and his sister, Sr. M. Raffaella of the Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy, the latter has been Beatified; Louis, Salesian Brother missionary in Latin America, died a saintly death, and he, Vincent, has been declared Venerable.
“Look, there is Don Bosco!”
When he was three, they lost their father. His mother brought him to the parish church where Don Bosco was preaching: “Vincent, look, look there at Don Bosco!” He would recall the kindly face of the old priest for the rest of his life.
Taught at Valsalice as a young Salesian
When he was 17, he became a Salesian and was sent to Turin-Valsalice, where he taught and also completed further studies: a diploma in music composition from the Parma Conservatorium, a degree in agriculture, philosophy and pedagogy from Turin.
When he was 24, he was ordained priest. He taught for 20 years and was a brilliant composer at Valsalice. Generations of clerics knew him as their teacher. Meanwhile, he was insistently asking the Rector Major: “Find me a place somewhere in the poorest, most difficult, most abandoned mission. I want nothing to do with comfort.”
Sent to lead the Salesian foray into Japan
He was satisfied in his demand when he turned 46! Don Rinaldi sent him to lead the group founding the Salesian presence in Japan. He worked there for 40 years. He won the hearts of the Japanese by his kindness, getting involved, like Don Bosco, in the apostolate of the press and of music. He translated the life of Dominic Savio into Japanese.
His music more Japanese than the Japanese
On the 2600th Anniversary of the foundation of the Japanese Empire, he was invited to compose a sonata to be broadcast by radio. Japan’s chief daily newspaper judged it to be “more Japanese than the Japanese.” He founded a youth band which toured the nation.
Rector at Miyazaki, first superior of Vice Province
As rector of the first Salesian community in Miyazaki, he would become, three years later, the Superior of the new vice province. He traveled a lot to keep encouraging the first Salesians in Japan, opening works for those who were poor and abandoned.
Appointed Prefect Apostolic
In 1935, he was appointed Prefect Apostolic. After the difficult war years, complete with all its difficult sacrifices, he founded “Boys Town” in Tokyo, accommodating 260 orphans and providing primary, secondary and technical schooling. In 1949, when he was 70 years old, he continued one as rector of the studentate of philosophy and theology at Chofu for a further nine years.
Lies in crypt at Chofu
He died in Japan, with patriarchal status, on October 6, 1965. He was recognised by both Italian and Japanese civil authorities. His body – re-exhumed in 1977 and found to be perfectly intact – now lies in the crypt in Chofu.