St. John Baptist de Rossi, also known as Giovanni Battista de’ Rossi, was born on February 22, 1698 in Voltaggio, Italy.
From a young age, John excelled in his living faith, piety and gentleness.
When he was 10-years-old, a noble couple from Genoa took him in as a page.
Despite his father’s death in 1710, John went on to study at the Collegium Romanum under the guidance of the Jesuits and later under the Dominicans at the Dominican College of Saint Thomas.
John joined the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin and the Ristretto of the Twelve Apostles. He led the groups in meetings, group prayer and outreach to the poor.
John’s desire to grow in holiness sometimes led him to going overboard in his practices of voluntary mortification and he began to have fits of epilepsy.
Under normal circumstances, his epileptic fits would have excluded him from the priesthood. However, he was granted a special dispensation and was ordained to the priesthood on March 8, 1721.
He devoted himself to serving Rome’s sick, homeless and prostitutes.
John spoke to the dying about Jesus Christ, leading them to salvation.
After the death of the canon of St. Mary in Cosmedin in 1737, John was forced to accept the canonry.
His illness made him afraid of entering the confessional, due to the possibility of having a seizure during the session.
In 1738, he became dangerously ill and was sent away to regain his health. While in Civita Castellana, the Bishop pushed John to hear confessions and gave him the special faculty of hearing confessions in any of Rome’s churches.
From then on, he spent countless hours hearing confessions from the poor and illiterate in hospitals and their homes.
He became known as the “apostle of the abandoned,” and was referred to as a second Philip Neri, a hunter of souls.
In 1762, John’s health began to severely deteriorate.
John Baptist de Rossi passed away on May 23, 1764 in his bedroom in Trinita de Pellegrini.
He was beatified in 1860 by Pope Pius IX and canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII.
He is the patron saint of Voltaggio and his feast day is celebrated on May 23.