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Marist Brother wins honorific Italian prize for outstanding social work



Br Vasco Santi campaigned for blood donation for several decades

26/11/2016: Italy

Italian president Sergio Mattarella has awarded Brother Vasco Santi, aged 89, with the prize of Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana) for his outstanding contribution in promoting and organizing blood donation campaigns.

Br Vasco, who founded a group of blood donators in 1975, was awarded with the prize along 39 other Italians of different fields on Nov. 12.

The group, which has reached its 41st anniversary, continues to work alongside the Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome. As of March 2016, it has obtained 11,247 bottles of blood.

“When he began the blood donation, it wasn’t as common as it is nowadays,” affirmed Fabrizio Guerra, president of the association of alumni of San Leone Magno School, where Br Vasco worked as a teacher.

“Actually, it was students who gathered each week to reflect on the Gospel that asked him to do this because the aunt of one of them had needed blood and had not been able to receive it,” he told the general house press office on Nov. 14.

Fabrizio stressed that Br Vasco was also involved in handing out food packages to poor families and helping children after school with their homework.

“We’ve always thought that that is what a Marist should be like: joyful, contagious, full of energy, humble and modest,” he continued.

Br Vasco, who currently lives in the Marist community of Viterbo, left Rome in 2011 after years of working in San Leone Magno School as a chemistry and biology teacher.

The highest-ranking honour of the Republic, the prize is awarded for “merit acquired for the nation” in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers.

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