Did Zatti and Ceferino really meet?
The dialogue between Ceferino and Zatti is fictional, but considering Ceferino’s health situation, it could be understandable that he had those thoughts.
Love with humor
Being attentive to the needs of others
Zatti and Ceferino
Zatti creates community
Among the “highlight” scenes of the short film is the one where Zatti recalls his time of convalescence in that same hospital some 40 years earlier. He also spends that period as an assistant to Father Evasio Garrone, considered the doctor and first director of St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Garrone takes him under his care when he arrives, on March 4, 1902, and then asks him to take care of Ceferino Namuncurá, who arrives the following year. Looking at both stories at the same time, we see the interweaving that God arranged for them to meet.
Ceferino’s deteriorating health complicated his future as a Salesian in early 1902. Medical examinations determined that he had contracted tuberculosis. It was then that Monsignor Juan Cagliero decided to transfer him to Viedma, in the hope that the country air would help him recover.
In the meantime, Artemide cared for Father Ernesto Giuliani, a Salesian who died of tuberculosis on January 4, 1902, in Bernal. Having contracted the disease, Zatti traveled on March 4, 1902 to the city of Viedma to be cured. There he made a promise to the Virgin Mary: if he healed, he would devote himself to the care of the sick at the San José Hospital in Viedma.
Once he recovered, he began his long pilgrimage as a nurse for the poor. As time went by, his service to the poorest of the poor deepened and with it his reputation of sanctity. So much so that years later, in 1915, he published in the Catholic weekly magazine “Flores del Campo”, a piece about his healing: “I believed, I promised, I healed”.
The following year, on January 15, 1903, Ceferino arrived at the Saint Francis de Sales School in Viedma, where he began his secondary studies as an aspirant within the Salesian Congregation. Father Evasio Garrone, together with the hospital nurse, Artemide Zatti, took care of him.
On March 5, 1903, Artemide began working as the manager of the “Saint Francis de Sales” pharmacy at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
On July 6, 1904, Ceferino left Viedma, and on July 19, 1904 he embarked for Italy. The Salesians thought that there he would recover his health and be able to continue his studies for the priesthood. Thus, at the age of 17, Ceferino accompanied Monsignor Cagliero and Father Garrone to Turin and then to Rome, where he died on May 11, 1905. He was 18 years and 9 months old.
The dialogue between Ceferino and Zatti is redacted, but considering the situation of Ceferino’s deteriorating health, it could be understandable that he had these thoughts about abandoning his life in God’s hands. Ceferino wanted by all means to be a Salesian and a missionary, to continue the process of evangelization of his people. Zatti, on the other hand, now moderately recovered and wanting to be a Salesian too, will understand over the years the greatness and truth of Ceferino’s words.
Ceferino died in the hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God on the Tiber Island, in Rome, on May 11, 1905. In 1930, Father Luis Pedemonte began to collect testimonies of his life, having already achieved in 1924 the repatriation of his mortal remains from Italy.
Among those summoned to testify, of course, is our brother Zatti. And so he narrates in his testimony:
I had been entrusted with the care of Ceferino, weak in the lungs. The most effective cure at that time was to strengthen the body with healthy and abundant food. Every morning I would wait for him in his infirmary, and I would see him arrive smiling at ten o’clock, during school recess. I had a good steak fresh from the grill, a glass of wine and fresh bread. The two of us would eat together this medicine prescribed by our dear doctor, Father Garrone.
In the afternoon, after school, we met again for the second daily medication. It consisted of this: Father Garrone would give us a few coins, and we would take a walk, get some good air, and buy some eggs of the day in the neighboring farms. When we returned we would prepare cocktails to strengthen our organism.
I always remember Ceferino’s sweetness, his smile and his deep gratitude. Often returning from the walk he would say to me:
– “Look, Zatti, how much kindness in our Superiors. They love us as if they were our father and mother. Let’s pray the Rosary for their intentions…”
And we walked praying the mysteries of the Rosary.
In 1904, Monsignor Cagliero, when he left for Italy, took Ceferino with him. I received from him a prayer card with this dedication: “To my nurse Artemide Zatti, cordial greetings.”