There is a Japanese concept Ikigai, which translates to ‘life value’. It is used to describe the place where what you love, what you are good at and what the world needs intersect.
A fully lived Christian vocation is one that finds the intersection of what you love, what you are good at and a deep response to the needs of the world; which is then all done in union with the God who calls us to a well lived life vocation.
Artemide Zatti was an Italian immigrant to Argentina who lived well in this intersecting space between his talents, God’s love and the needs of others.
Artemide knew the power of prayer. As a young man he contracted tuberculosis while caring for a sick priest. At that time Artemide made a promise to Mary Help of Christians that if he was cured he would devote his life to caring for the sick. He was mysteriously healed and was faithful to his promise to care for the sick for the rest of his life.
Artemide later summed up this experience with the phrase “I believed, I promised, I was healed”. Artemide saw Christ in every poor and sick person, treating them with reverence and respect.
The secret to his well lived life was that he was doing what he loved, what gave him joy, and he experienced deep fulfilment as he shared his life for others.
Artemide’s talents lay in caring for the poor and sick and being a positive and supportive presence to them. As a pharmacist, nurse and later a hospital administrator, he was more than a dispenser of medicines, he affirmed the dignity of each person in his care.
He was perceptive in recognizing diseases and doctors put their trust in Artemide’s recommendations, often including him in the healing process. Even as a hospital administrator he would get his hands dirty by cleaning if it was needed.
Artemide lived out a life of love and service; rising at 4.30 or 5am for prayer and Mass, he would then visit the hospital wards with a cheerful greeting. He was a tireless worker, visiting the homes of those who could not get to hospital without asking for any payment, and he was always ready to respond night or day without complaint.
Artemide's limitless support to those who were suffering brought invaluable solace
One of his patients affectionately described him as a mother caring for her sick children. His assistance to the sick was not just physical, he was a comforting and spiritual support to them.
He healed people by his self-giving presence: through his jokes, soothing singing, engaging conversation; whatever the patient needed, Artemide would provide to distract them from their pain and remind them of the humanity. He would spend hours writing letters for those who could not write and would often leave some money in the locker of poor patients.
A man of prayer, Artemide prayed with his community as a Salesian Brother, but also returned to the wards to pray with patients in the evening. Artemide’s vocation was strengthened and deepened by his prayer life.
He shared his love of God in action and word. Patients who couldn’t afford to pay might pay him with a prayer or Zatti might settle the bill with the request to go and make a good confession.
Artemede’s vocation was lived out in the intersection of his love for God and those in need, his talents and the needs of the world. He was canonised on 9 October 2022 by Pope Francis. Pope Francis described Artemide Zatti as an intercessor for vocations and he highlighted the importance of religious brothers, “which gives a special witness of consecrated life.”
Artemide Zatti found the joy of living out his vocation as a Brother in the Salesian Society caring for the poor. What can we learn from Saint Artemide Zatti? I think it is in prayerfully discerning what you love doing and then lovingly do it in response to the needs of others.
To find out more about Salesian Vocations, click here!