Are Zatti’s phrases true?


“Good morning, is everyone breathing?” Don Zatti used to say when entering the pavilion for the sick.


Love with humor


Being attentive to the needs of others


Facing adversity


Zatti and Ceferino


Zatti creates community

Artemide Zatti died in 1951. Only three years later his most famous biography was published. It was written by Father Raúl Entraigas, a Salesian and witness to many of the anecdotes that are told in this book, El pariente de todos los pobres (The relative of all the poor).

Entraigas is not only a good writer and biographer, but also a well-known personality in the cultural environment of his time. This text was the fundamental basis for the script of the short film Zatti, our brother.

There we find Zatti with some clever phrases. Some sound like jokes and are still funny, others today may sound very “godly” or outdated and we are not used to hearing them.

These are some of the phrases and anecdotes extracted from Entraigas’ text:

 When waking up the sick in the wards, his greeting was characteristic , “Good morning. Long live Jesus, Joseph and Mary….” Then he immediately ask, “Is everyone breathing?” The old people stirred in their beds and answered in chorus, “Everyone, Don Zatti.” “Thanks God,” he said happily and began to go from bed to bed to see what each one needed.

One cold and windy winter night, he went to bring a remedy to a lady. When he arrived he was told, “But, Don Zatti, with this night….” “And… I don’t have any others,” he said with his good humor. 

To bring the sick closer to God, he spoke to them in his own way. Once he said to them, “Come to the stove, boys.” Everyone paid close attention. They imagined that Zatti was inviting them to drink mate or eat a steak. Then he explained to them that they should get closer to God, who is Life, Strength and Light.

“We’ll have to put iron in it,” he said when surgery was to be done.

 To a girl who was always taking vitamins, he once said, “Look, we call this lady Catalina of Sánchez, we will call you Vitamin Broth”.

A farmer was trying to express his gratitude to Zatti, but he did not know how to do it. Until he closed the conversation by greeting Zatti more or less like this, “Thank you very much, Mr. Zatti, for everything. I take leave of you and ask you to convey my best regards to your wife, even though I don’t have the pleasure of meeting her….” “Me neither I,” Zatti replied, laughing heartily.

“Don Zatti,” some people once told him who were really grateful for his charity “you should have a monument erected.” “You see, you’d better give it to me in cash, for absorbent cotton, gauze and alcohol,” I answered them simply.

 One day he was riding aicycle while it was pouring rain. A doctor who reached him said, “Come on, move a little!” “Why?” “And … so you don’t get wet!” “And you think the water ahead won’t get wet?”

When he said to the wardrobe attendant, “Let’s see: a change of clothes for Our Lord…” it was because he saw Christ in his poor sick people. Zatti asked the best for his asylum seekers. “To Our Lord we must give the best,” he used to repeat. When a poor country child needed garment for his first communion, Artemis always asked like this, “A little garment for Our Lord.”

One of the doctors, seeing that Zatti was receiving a patient who would be thrown away in another hospital sad to him, “You are always the worst” “For me the best,” replied the “relative of all the poor.”

Once, while pouring alcohol on a very painful sore on a lady’s leg, the sick woman, closing her teeth, said to him, “Oh, Mr. Zatti, for the love of God…!” “Madam, I do everything for the love of God…,” he replied.

A person’s phraseology also responds to an era. The important thing we can find out about Zatti in this regard is as follows:

• Zatti is a person of excellent humor: his empathic ability was amazing. Neither the indifference of others nor the roughness of nervous people bothered him. He always smiled.Yes, he was struck by the pain of the sick. Then he used his creativity and compassion, with witty jokes or phrases to cheer them up.

• Zatti is a man of God: “of what the heart abounds, the mouth speaks,” as the saying goes. In Zatti, God’s presence is not an ornament. His encounter with Jesus is real, concrete, made up of simple prayer, visible in everyday life, with its needs and urgencies. Because doing good is urgent and doing it for God is necessary to be holy.

• Zatti is the man of charity: no one in his day doubted the power of his actions. During his lifetime he was followed by all the poor of the region, whether in Viedma or Carmen de Patagones or Fortín Mercedes and other towns and villages. His charity was expansive. It has also been extended in his words. Doing good to others was his daily concern.