Deccan Herald

A native of Switzerland, Rev Fr Faustine Corti, was born at Curio on November 5, 1856, as the youngest son of the nine children of Francis and Lucy Jerosa couple.

After his initial schooling, he joined the Society of Jesus (SJ) in 1878. However, in 1884, he bid goodbye to his country and arrived at Mangalore. During his stay at Jeppu, he learnt Tulu and Konkani languages and also taught at St Aloysius school for two years. He was ordained a priest in 1891, and subsequently taught in St Aloysius College for 10 years.

Though he was teaching in the college, his heart was yearning for for the poor. As a result, he landed in Naravi in the year 1905. Soon after his arrival at Naravi, he started to work among the Dalits and poor people.

One of the first things Fr Corti did upon his arrival at Naravi was to erect a large wooden cross measuring about seven meters high, on a hill, now known as ‘Kurusugudde’ (Hill Cross), where the present convent of the Sisters of Charity exists. During his 21 years of thankless service at Naravi, he worked strenuously for the poor, when people fondly called him the Living God as well as “Guru of Harijans”. For a long period, Fr Corti used a horse named ‘Kempi’ for his travelling. Quite interestingly, it is said that Kempi saved Fr Corti from dangers on several occasions.

Though he lived in Naravi, he served the people of the surrounding regions like Moodbidri, Peradi, Shirthady, Alangar, Arva, Badyar, Venor, Madanthyar, Ujire and Nellikar among other places. Interestingly, most of the places have their own parishes now.

When a large number of Dalits suffered from small pox, Fr Corti extended all his help, lived with them in their huts and treated them with care against all odds.
The British government which recognised the service of Fr Corti, awarded him with ‘Kaisar-I-Hind’ title in 1918. It is during the same period Fr Corti decided to build a church in the vicinity.

When he realised that he needed money to realise his dreams, he returned to Italy to collect money for the church building in 1920.Due to his tireless efforts, he became ill and passed away on October 9, 1926. His mortal remains were buried at Jeppu cemetery.

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