Luigi Giovanni Orione was born June 23, 1872, to a poor family at Pontecurone, Italy. His father, Vittorio, was a street paver and his mother, Carolina, was a pious, homemaker.
When he was thirteen years he entered the Franciscan Friary of Voghera but had to leave after a year because he was ill. From 1886 to 1889 he was a student at the Valdocco Oratory in Turin operated by the Salesians, where he gained the attention of John Bosco, the founder, who said he was one of his favorite students. From the age of 13, Luigi had health problems. However, three years later, in 1888, at Bosco’s death in Turin,his ailments were miraculously cured.
Orione was determined to become a priest and entered the seminary of the Archdiocese of Turin. In 1892, thankful for the education he had received from the followers of John Bosco, he opened his own oratory to educate the poor boys of Turin. The next year he started a boarding school for the poor, He was ordained a priest on April 13, 1895.
Starting in 1899, Orione started to gather a group of priests and clerics that were to become Little Work of Divine Providence). In 1903 the group received permission of the bishop as a religious congregation called the Sons of Divine Providence. One of his priest friends was Lorenzo Perosi, who later became Perpetual Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir and one of the most famous composers of sacred music. They remained lifelong friends.
In 1908 Orione went to Messina, Sicily, and Reggio Calabria, Calabria, both of which had been destroyed by earthquakes. He spent three years helping, especially the caring of orphans.
In 1915 he went to Marsica when that region had a similarly devastating earthquake. That same year he founded the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity.
At the end of World War I, Orione began to expand his work. He founded schools, farming colonies, charity organizations and nursing homes—always with a special emphasis on helping orphans and the poor. Over the next two decades, he started foundations throughout Italy and the Americas.
In 1931, he founded the Shrine of the Madonna della Guardia in Tortona, the principal church in the world for the Orionine order. It is also a center for annual music festivals in honor of Orione’s friend, Perosi.
In the winter of 1940, Orione started to suffer serious cardiac and pulmonary ailments. He went to Sanremo to recuperate. On March 12, 1940, Luigi Orione died. He is the Patron Saint of the abandoned people.