On 17 April 1958 the Pilot completed his journey, at 11.15 pm. Don Lolli died in his own bed, surrounded by the religious Family he had founded. When the news of his death was made public, a single echo rang throughout Ravenna: ”A saint has died”. The artist Sergio Casadio made a cast of Don Lolli’s face and took a number of photographs. At 11 am the following day, under the guidance of Monsignor Salvatore Baldassarri, the body was carried to the crypt of the Opera’s church, which had been inaugurated only five months earlier, and there the chapel of rest was prepared.
The funeral took place on the following Monday, 21 April, and was celebrated in the Opera’s church, the Archbishop presiding. A vast crowd accompanied the body as it was borne from the church to the cemetery. L’Amico degli Infermi, the Opera’s newspaper, devoted a special issue to Don Lolli and in the ‘Local news’ section reported: “The Archbishop with the priests preceded the hearse, its ropes held by the Hon. Zaccagnini, the mayor of Ravenna, the Vicar General of the Diocese and the archpriest of Cervia. Some dozens of our sick in wheelchairs preceded the cortège of priests. Outside the city a long procession of motorcars formed, and these went all the way to the cemetery, where there was the last, moving contact with the body.”
Four years later, at the forceful behest of the religious Family, Don Lolli’s body returned with due solemnity to the crypt of his church. Once again, it was a triumph of faith and admiration: as one witness recalls: ”From the sky an aircraft dropped rose petals. Children in white flanked the bier.” Since that day, the body has rested in the church of St Therese, which is the destination of continual visits and prayers for graces and spiritual favours. So intense is the fame of holiness that steps were immediately taken for the cause of beatification.
“It’s not anybody’s death: hope in the Lord; put your trust in the Lord; give him your pains, your suffering, your despair – He will take care of them, don’t you worry; love one another, stand together in the Lord; never give up; be good; be detached; put yourselves in His hands and forget about it”.
Don Angelo Lolli
to his spiritual daughters on his deathbed (11 April 1958)
“He gave blessings to the very end. At 2.30 pm on 17 April all the Sisters gathered together, for it seemed that the moment of his death had come [in reality he died later]. Until the evening, very late, already in a coma, now and then you could see that hand he was trying to raise in blessing. Finally at 11.15 pm, after three hours of dreadful agony, he flew away into Heaven, surrounded by the whole male and female religious family and by many Priests of the community and elsewhere.”
Sister Rina Molducci
“His name was already a portent: Angelo, ‘angel’, means ‘one who constantly sees the face of God’; Angelo means ‘sent by God to help men’; and he really was an angel: his gaze was always set on the Father who is in Heaven, his work always focused on helping his brothers on earth.”
Monsignor Salvatore Baldassarri
Homily for the funeral of Don Lolli