This member of the Order of Saint Augustine in the nineteenth century has been called "the restorer of the Augustinian Order in Italy", and for good reason. Pacifico Neno was born in UItaly during 1833, and made his first profession as an Augustinian at Genazzano, Italy, in April 1851. Sometime after he became a priest, he was sent to teach at Villanova College (now Villanova University) in Pennsylvania, United States of America, and by 1880 was Provincial of the Villanova Province.
In 1880 the Augustinian Order in Italy was seriously short of friars and was in real danger of dying out. Many Augustinian houses in Italy had been confiscated into government ownership during the previous decades. The Order in Italy seemed to lack the leadership and the will to respond effectively to the drastic circumstances prevailing. Pope Leo XIII, always a supporter of the Order from his youth, was successfully encouraged to recall Neno back to Italy. He appointed Neno to be in charge of the Order internationally.
For his eight brief years in charge of the Order, Neno held the position on the authority of Leo XIII. A General Chapter was called only after his death in order to elect his successor. Neno was born at Grotte di Castro, Italy, in 1833, entered the Augustinian Order in 1850 and was ordained to the priesthood in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran at Rome in 1856. He came to the United States in 1865 to act as Regent of Studies in the ecclesiastical department of Villanova College (now Villanova University), Pennsylvania. At the Provincial Chapter of 1878 he was elected Prior Provincial of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova (which at that time was the sole Province for the whole United States).
He reached Italy in February 1881 and within weeks there was a new vigour sensed in the Order. He released all members of the previous Curia, and formed a completely new one. Nobody on his Curia was more than fifty years of age. Neno immediately set up four novitiates (houses of first formation) in Italy, and established an international College of Saint Monica in Rome for the education of future candidates to the Order. By a vigorous correspondence with Augustinian Provincials internationally, he injected some of his own characteristic vigour and hope throughout the Order.
Spirits rose when Pope Leo XIII on 8th December 1881 proclaimed Clare of Montefalco O.S.A. a saint of the church. Leo declared Alonso of Orozco O.S.A. one of the blessed (beati) of the church on 15th January 1882. His declaration of Rita of Cascia O.S.A. as a saint took place in 1900, after the death of Neno.
In 1887 Neno began visitation of some Augustinian Provinces outside of Italy - England, Ireland, Holland, Germany and Bohemia. Exhausted by his tireless work for the Order Neno died at the age of fifty-six years on 21st February 1889. He left the Order in a far more positive mood than that in which he had found it when he began leading it a brief eight years previously.
Pacifico Neno O.S.A. (1833 – 1889). From the website of the Eastern U.S.A. Augustinian Province. http://www1.augustinian.org/who-we-are/the-augustinians/province-timeline/neno AN4357