In the early 1920s, a small parish nursing home was operating in Negrar called “Sacro Cuore”. The founder, Father Angelo Sempreboni, who had served as parish priest since 1908, also wanted to build a hospital to meet the needs of the population, an idea which was supported by the vast majority of followers.

Father Angelo died prematurely in 1932 and the Negrar facility was entrusted to Father Calabria and the priests of his Congregation, who have run the facility since late 1933 in collaboration with the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, along with a growing number of lay healthcare workers.

It essentially began operating as a hospital in 1944. Following the Law on Hospitals of 1968, in 1970 the Negrar Hospitals were classified as “Local General Hospitals” and as “Long-stay Provincial Hospitals” and therefore entered by law into the regional programming for the provision of public healthcare services. They were set up as “classified hospitals”, i.e. religious hospitals that provided public care but under private management. The healthcare reform of 1978 (Law No 833/78) reconfirmed this arrangement.

The “Citadel of Charity” in Negrar

Chronology

1932: Father Angelo Sempreboni, the Negrar parish priest, died: among the parish work he started was a nursing home for the elderly and needy, known as “Casa del Sacro Cuore”. 1933 – August: Representing Father Calabria, Brother Antonio Consolaro met with Mr Luigi Salgari, the President of the Casa del S. Cuore, along with Dr Brugnoli, on behalf of his Aunt Maria, in order to handle the transfer of the hospice to Calabria’s Congregation.

1933 – 20 December: The property was handed over. In attendance: Father Calabria, Father Franchini and Brother Consolaro, accompanied by Dr Brugnoli. The transfer was made official the following day with the signing of the deeds by the new Negrar parish priest, Father Francesco Beltrame, which took place at the Bishop’s Curia.

1935 – 28 March: The Casa purchased the building of the Cassa Rurale, which had been used as a Religious School up until that point. It was immediately occupied by 60 elderly guests.

1937: Father Calabria met with the Mayor of Negrar at Casa Nazareth in Verona to decide what would happen to the nursing home.

1943: Partly occupied by German troops, the Verona Hospital was bombed. Not knowing where to house the patients, the Verona healthcare authorities asked the Casa del Sacro Cuore to accommodate a few of these patients. This made way for the real possibility of fulfilling Father Sempreboni’s dream, the founder of the Casa: to turn the hospice into a hospital.

1944 – 8 May: In a hastily prepared surgical theatre, the surgeon Dr Zanuso, returning from the front, performed the first surgical procedure on a strangulated hernia. Despite lacking most equipment, the operation was quickly performed.

1945: By now, the number of guests and their various needs required the construction of a new home for the elderly, which would be separate from the hospital but operate as part of the same facility.

1952 – 31 May: A notarised deed of purchase was signed for 22,000 m2 of land. Faced with pressing demands for payment from the owners, Father Calabria insisted: “Do not worry about the moneyBuild the project, start as soon as possible“. Father Calabria died in 1954 with a prophetic vision of the magnificent new building, although he did not see the work commence.

1955 – April: The work on the “Geriatric Hospital” began. The first stone was blessed on the feast day of the Sacred Heart.

1958 – 12 September: The work on the “Geriatric Hospital” was finished and inaugurated by Archbishop Giovanni Urbani. The new building could accommodate up to 400 people and was called the “Don Calabria Geriatric Hospital”. Over the following decades, this hospital and its predecessor (the old “Casa del Sacro Cuore”) underwent the necessary expansions and upgrades until they reached the size of the current healthcare facility.

1970: Following the Law on Hospitals of 1968, the Sacro Cuore Local General Hospital and the Don Calabria Long-stay Provincial Hospital were “classified”, i.e. defined for all extensive purposes as public, yet privately run, hospitals. This arrangement was reaffirmed by the subsequent healthcare reform of 1978.

1984 – 26 November: The construction of the “Casa Fr. Francesco Perez” was completed on the hospital grounds, which would take in poor and marginalised people who could not stay with their families (the outcome of the famous “Law 180”), as well as elderly priests from the diocese and certain religious institutes.

1996 – 14 June: the “Casa Fr. Pietro Nogarè” was officially opened, operating as a care and nursing home for the elderly. Since November 2001, it has also housed a ward for patients in permanent comas.