Blessed Antonio Rosmini-Serbati

Blessed Antonio Rosmini-Serbati (March 25, 1797 – July 1, 1855) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and philosopher. He founded the Rosminians, officially the Institute of Charity or Societas a charitate nuncupata.

Born at Roverto in the Austrian Tyrol, he belonged to a noble and wealthy family. At an early age decided to enter the priesthood. After studying at Pavia and Padua, he was ordained priest in 1821.  In 1848 Rosmini was invited to serve in the Roman Curia of Pius IX as prime minister of the Papal States. He participated in the intellectual struggle which had for its object emancipation from Austria, but as a trusted ecclesiastical advisor and diplomat he was not an initiator of the movement which ended in the freedom and unity of Italy. In fact, while eager for the deliverance of Italy from Austria, his aim was to bring about a confederation of the states of the country, which was to be under the control of the pope. However upon establishment of the Roman Republic, the Pontiff was forced to flee and became estranged from his former advisor in political matters. The tenuous political circumstances made it very difficult to reconcile the two men’s differing projects: innovative social and juridical reforms, however modest, fell victim to the more pressing existential needs of defending the supremacy of the Church’s temporal powers.

The most comprehensive view of Rosmini’s philosophical standpoint is to be found in his Sistema filosofico, in which he set forth the conception of a complete encyclopaedia of the human knowable, synthetically conjoined, according to the order of ideas, in a perfectly harmonious whole. Contemplating the position of recent philosophy from Locke to Hegel, and having his eye directed to the ancient and fundamental problem of the origin, truth and certainty of our ideas, he wrote: “If philosophy is to be restored to love and respect, I think it will be necessary, in part, to return to the teachings of the ancients, and in part to give those teachings the benefit of modern methods” (Theodicy, a. 148).

 In 1828 he founded a new religious community, the Institute of Charity, known generally since as the Rosminians.  The members might be priests or laymen, who devoted themselves to preaching, the education of youth, and works of universal charity—material, spiritual and intellectual. They work in Italy, England, Ireland, France, Wales, New Zealand, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Venezuela, and America.  In London they are attached to the historical Church of St Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn. In 1962, Rosmini College School for Boys was founded in Auckland, New Zealand by Father Catcheside.

On 26 June 2006, Pope Benedict XVI signed a Decree of the heroic virtues, and hence declared Rosmini to be Venerable.  On 3 June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of a decree approving Rosmini’s beatification.  On November 18, 2007, he was beatified in Novara, Italy.

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