Innocent Clementi – Unless the grain of wheat. Luigi Variara an apostle of the Columbia lepers

Father Luigi Variara’s life story epitomizes the journey of a devout Catholic from Italy to the remote and desolate lands of Agua de Dios, Colombia, where he dedicated himself to serving the marginalized and diseased lepers.

The text delves into the transformative journey of Father Variara, tracing his upbringing in a devout Italian family to his encounters with Don Bosco and his eventual call to missionary service. Despite initial reluctance and challenges, Father Variara embraced his mission with zeal, bringing joy and hope to the lepers through music, games, and religious teachings. His commitment to inclusivity led him to envision a new religious congregation, breaking barriers and offering solace to all, regardless of their health or social status. Father Variara’s life serves as a beacon of selfless service, illustrating the power of faith, love, and compassion in transforming lives and communities. His legacy continues to inspire individuals worldwide to reach out to the marginalized and follow the path of service and devotion exemplified by Christ.



  • Foreword
  • Re-entering the Fold
  • The Peter Variara Family
  • Luigi Meets a Saint
  • The Young Salesian
  • Life among Humanity’s Rejects
  • A Bracing Breath of Fresh Air
  • An onerous Endowment
  • A Dream Realized
  • A Painful Break
  • The Daughters of the Sacred Hearts
  • The “Via Dolorosa”
  • The Weight of the Cross
  • Return Visit to His Homeland
  • Draining the Last Bitter Dregs
  • A Cruel Disfigurement
  • Definitive Leave Taking
  • Approaching Life’s Sunset
  • Concluding Notes
  • Additional Information

Reference time period: 1875 – 1923

I. Clementi, Unless the grain of wheat. Luigi Variara an apostle of the Columbia lepers, St. Kieran’s Church, Miami, Florida 1977.

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