Born in Sicily, he was educated at Naples and wanted to enter religious life, despite his father’s opposition. But he persevered and entered the Congregation of Clerks Regular of St. Paul, or Barnabites, though the conflict prompted a long illness. He was ordained in 1797, serving as superior of two colleges for 15 years and in other posts. More and more he exercised his priesthood by hearing confessions, and his health was affected. He was seen as a living saint; one miracle attributed to him was stopping the flow of lava from an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1805.