Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

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Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, O.S.B.
Archbishop of Milan
Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster (1944)
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Milan
Metropolis Milan
See Milan
Appointed 26 June 1929
Term ended 30 August 1954
Predecessor Eugenio Tosi
Successor Giovanni Battista Montini
Ordination 19 March 1904
by Pietro Respighi
Consecration 21 July 1929
by Pope Pius XI
Created Cardinal 15 July 1929
by Pope Pius XI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Alfredo Ludovico Schuster
Born (1880-01-18)18 January 1880
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Died 30 August 1954(1954-08-30) (aged 74)
Venegono Inferiore, Varese, Italy
Buried Cathedral of Milan
Previous post
Coat of arms Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, O.S.B.'s coat of arms
Feast day 30 August
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 12 May 1996
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope John Paul II
  • Pastoral staff
  • Cardinal's attire
Patronage Archdiocese of Milan

Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, O.S.B. (18 January 1880 – 30 August 1954), was a Benedictine monk and served as Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan during World War II.

He was beatified on 12 May 1996 by Pope John Paul II.

Early life and family

Alfredo Ludovico Schuster was born on 18 January 1880 in Rome, Italy, the son of Giovanni (Johann) Schuster, a Bavarian tailor and double widower, and Maria Anna Tutzer. Schuster's sister, Giulia, entered the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. Schuster also had three half-siblings from his father's second marriage. As a young child, Schuster was briefly kidnapped. He served as an altar boy at the church of the German Cemetery, next to St. Peter's Basilica.[1]

Schuster completed his secondary-level studies (ginnasiali and liceali) at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in November 1891. On 13 November 1898, he joined the Order of St. Benedict at the novitiate of the monastery community of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, when he took the name Ildefonso and later professed monastic vows on 13 November 1900. He graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy on 14 June 1903 and later received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome.[1]

Church career


Schuster was ordained on 19 March 1904 at the patriarchal Lateran Basilica in Rome by Cardinal Pietro Respighi, its archpriest and Vicar general of Rome. He returned to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in 1904. He became Master of novices in 1908, prior in 1916, and was elected abbot-ordinary of the abbey nullius on 6 April 1918. He also received the abbatial blessing from Cardinal Basilio Pompilj on 14 April there.[1]

He was the Procurator General of the Cassinese Congregation from 1914 to 1929 and President of the Pontifical Oriental Institute from 7 October 1919 to 4 July 1922. He visited the seminaries of Lombardy, Campania, and Calabria from 1924 to 1928.[1]


Schuster was elected Archbishop of Milan on 26 June 1929. On the following 13 July, he took the oath of loyalty to the Italian state in front of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, the first Italian bishop to do so, as required by the Lateran Treaty.[1]


Schuster was created Cardinal priest by Pope Pius XI on 15 July 1929, receiving the titular church of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti on 18 July 1929. He was consecrated on 21 July 1929 in the Sistine Chapel by Pope Pius personally, assisted by the Vicar General of Rome, Cardinal Carlo Cremonesi, and the first Vicar General for the Vatican City State, Bishop Agostino Zampini, O.S.A.[1]

He served as a papal legate on several occasions. On 15 August 1932, he was appointed legate to the celebration of Our Lady of Caravaggio; on 21 March 1934, to the millennial anniversary of Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland; on 15 September 1937, to the inauguration of the new facade of the cathedral of Desio; and on 2 August 1951, to the National Eucharistic Conference in Assisi.[1]

Schuster participated in the papal conclave of 1939, which elected Pope Pius XII on the eve of World War II.[1]

Relations with Fascism

There were claims during the process for Schuster's beatification that he was sympathetic to Italian Fascism.[2] While there is evidence of some support for Italy's military ambitions, there is also evidence that he denounced the anti-Christian element of Fascist philosophy. He reportedly refused to participate in ceremonies involving Mussolini, and condemned racist legislation during the Fascist period.[2]

Before World War II

Schuster was an enthusiastic supporter of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, comparing it to the Crusades and viewing it as a potential source of converts.[3][4] On 28 October 1935, while celebrating Mass in the Cathedral of Milan, Schuster asked God to protect the Italian troops as "they open the door of Ethiopia to the Catholic faith and Roman civilisation",[5] and blessed the banners of the departing troops.

In a speech at the School of Fascist Mystique in Rome in 1937, he spelled out a fanciful direct link between Imperial Rome, Christian Rome, and Fascism: "God has chosen to reward the Duce by drawing his historical figure closer to the great spirits of Constantine and Augustus, through the work of Benito Mussolini reconnecting Rome and its King to a shining new imperial crown of Roman peace."[6]

In 1938, Schuster's views changed sharply, after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany and the introduction of German racial doctrines into Italy with the Italian Racial Laws.[7]

Relationship with Mussolini

During World War II, the Cardinal was attacked by the Fascist and Nazi press without suffering any loss of esteem among his people. On 25 April 1945, Schuster hosted in the archbishop's palace in Milan a meeting between Italian partisans and Mussolini in order to obtain a truce between the two parties, but Mussolini didn't accept the demand for unconditional surrender made by Marazza and Pertini, the partisan delegates. Mussolini arrived punctually at 5 p.m., but nobody from the other side was there. The delegates Cadorna, Lombardi, and Marazza arrived an hour later. Mussolini had a chat with Schuster, and gave him a glass of rosolio to drink and a copy of a book he had written about the life of a saint. Schuster made an effort to preach humility to Mussolini. Later, Graziani and other Fascist leaders arrived, but all the versions given by the people who were present, which include Schuster's, differ greatly from one another.[8]

In the postwar years, Cardinal Schuster frequently emphasized the danger of totalitarianism inspired either by Fascism or Communism.[9]

Death and legacy

Schuster died on 30 August 1954 in the Archiepiscopal Seminary Pio XI, at Venegono Inferiore near Milan. Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (the future Pope John XXIII) celebrated his funeral. He was buried on 2 September 1954 in the metropolitan cathedral of Milan, next to his two immediate predecessors.[1]

Equestrian order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem BAR.svg Schuster was honoured with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.


The diocesan process of his cause for sainthood was opened on 30 August 1957 by Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) and concluded on 31 October 1963. After his tomb was opened on 28 January 1985, his body was found to be intact. Schuster was declared Venerable on 26 March 1994 by Pope John Paul II and beatified on 12 May 1996.[1][2]

Collect prayer

The collect prayer for the memorial of Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster reads:

Almighty God, through your grace, Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, by his exemplary virtue, built up the flock entrusted to him. Grant that we, under the guidance of the Gospel, may follow his teaching and walk in sureness of life, until we come to see you face to face in your eternal kingdom. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Miranda 1998.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Terry 2010.
  3. Lee 2000, p. 126.
  4. Chadwick 1988, p. 8.
  5. P. Beltrame Quattrocchi, Al di sopra del gagliardetti. L'arcivescovo Schuster: un asceta benedettino nell'era fascista, Marietti, Casale Monferrato (1985), s.v. "Etiopia". (Italian)
  6. Harris 2007, p. 218.
  7. E. Nobili, La parabola di un'illusione. Il cardinale Schuster dalla guerra d'Etiopia alle leggi razziali, NED, Milan (2005), s.v. "Leggi razziali". (Italian)
  8. P. Beltrame Quattrocchi, Al di sopra del gagliardetti. L'arcivescovo Schuster: un asceta benedettino nell'era fascista, Marietti, Casale Monferrato (1985). (Italian)
  9. T. Leccisotti, Il cardinale Schuster, S. Benedetto (1969), Vol.II. (Italian)

Works cited

  • Chadwick, Owen (1988), Britain and the Vatican During the Second World War, New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-36825-1CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lee, Stephen J. (2000), European Dictatorships, 1918–1945, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-23046-2CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Miranda, Salvador (1998), "Schuster, O.S.B., Alfredo Ildefonso", The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Florida International University Libraries, retrieved 24 June 2011CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Terry, Jones (11 August 2010), "Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster", The Patron Saints Index, retrieved 24 June 2011CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Harris, Judith (2007), Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery, New York: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, ISBN 1-84511-241-5, retrieved 20 October 2011<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Leccisotti, T. (1969), Il cardinale Schuster, S. Benedetto, Milan. (Italian)
  • Nobili, E. (2005), La parabola di un'illusione. Il cardinale Schuster dalla guerra d'Etiopia alle leggi razziali, NED, Milan. (Italian)

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Eugenio Tosi
Archbishop of Milan
Succeeded by
Giovanni Battista Montini