Giuseppe Maria Tomasi

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His Eminence Saint
Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, C.R.
Cardinal-Priest of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti
Giuseppe maria tomasi.jpg
Native name Giuseppe Maria Tomasi di Lampedusa
Appointed 11 July 1712
Installed 11 July 1712
Term ended 1 January 1713
Predecessor Marcello d'Aste
Successor Niccolò Caracciolo
Ordination 23 December 1673
by Giacomo de Angelis
Created Cardinal 18 May 1712
by Pope Clement XI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Giuseppe Maria Tomasi
Born (1649-09-12)12 September 1649
Licata, Kingdom of Sicily, Crown of Aragon
Died 1 January 1713(1713-01-01) (aged 63)
Rome, Lazio, Papal States
Buried Basilica of Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome, Papal States
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Giulio Tomasi di Lampedusa & Rosalia Traina
Feast day
  • 1 January
  • 3 January (Theatines)
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 29 September 1803
by Pope Pius VII
Canonized 12 October 1986
by Pope John Paul II
Attributes Cardinal's attire
Patronage Catholic liturgy
Shrines Basilica of Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome, Italy

Saint Joseph Mary Tomasi, C.R. (Italian: Giuseppe Maria Tomasi di Lampedusa)(1649–1713), was an Italian Theatine Catholic priest, scholar, reformer and cardinal. His scholarship was a significant source of the reforms in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church during the 20th century. He was beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1803, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1986.


Early life

Tomasi was born at Licata, in the Kingdom of Sicily, part of the Crown of Aragon, to Giulio Tomasi, the first Prince of Lampedusa and his wife, Rosalia Traina. His life was oriented toward God from his first years. Formed and educated in the family home, where they did not lack riches or moral training, he gave proofs of a spirit very open to study and to piety. His parents cared greatly for this and for his own Christian formation and his instruction in the classical and modern languages, above all in the Spanish language, because he was destined by the family for the royal court of Madrid, as he was bound to inherit from his own father, as his title of nobility, that of Grandee of Spain.

But Tomasi's own spirit aspired, even from youth, to be small in the Kingdom of God, and to serve not the kings of the earth but the King of heaven. He cultivated his pious desire in his heart until he obtained the consent of his father to follow his vocation to the religious life.


After having renounced, by means of a notarized document, the principality, which belonged to him by birth, in favour of his younger brother, as well as his very large inheritance, Tomasi was admitted into the Theatines, a religious Order founded by St. Cajetan of Thien in 1524, as a reform movement in the Catholic Church, and noted for the simplicity of life followed by its members. He joined the Order on 24 March 1665, and finally made his religious profession in the Theatine house of St. Joseph, at Palermo, on 25 March 1666.

Tomasi then studied philosophy, first at Messina, and later, owing to poor health, at Ferrara and Modena; and theology in Rome and Palermo. He was ordained a priest on Christmas Day 1673. To a wide knowledge of Greek, he united the study of Ethiopic, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic and Hebrew—converting his teacher, a Jewish rabbi, to Christianity. From the Psalters in these different languages, he collected the titles of the Psalms. He devoted himself to the study of Scripture and the Fathers. Searching the chief libraries, archives, and monuments, he retraced the ancient ecclesiastical discipline and liturgy.

Urged by his particular love for the ancient documents of the Church and for the sound ecclesiastical traditions, Tomasi considered that a good part of his own religious growth lay in dedicating himself, with the spirit of faith, to the publication of rare liturgical books and of the ancient liturgical texts, thereby bringing to light many ancient texts which until then had been hidden in the libraries.[1]


Tomasi's efforts at reform were directed not to the introduction of the new, but to the restoration and maintenance of the old. He was not always upheld and was sometimes rebuked for his zeal. Pope Innocent XII made him examiner of the bishops, or of the clergy. Pope Clement XI, for whom he served as confessor, appointed him consultor of the Theatine Order, theologian of the Sacred Congregation for Consultations about Regulars and other offices of the Holy See, consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and qualificator of the Holy Office. The same pope created him Cardinal Priest, with the title of the Church of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti, commanding him to accept the honour.

Tomasi taught catechism to the children of the poor in his titular church, also introducing its congregants to the use of Gregorian chant. He died in 1713, mourned by all, especially by Pope Clement, who so admired his sanctity that he had consulted him before accepting the papacy. He was buried in his titular church.


Tomasi's many publications on liturgical subjects, in which piety was united with scholarship, motivated the titles which some of his contemporaries gave to him, those of "the Prince of the Roman Liturgists" and of "Liturgists" and of "Liturgical Doctor".

In truth, not a few of the norms, established by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs and by the documents of the Second Vatican Council and today praiseworthily in use in the Church, were already proposed and ardently desired by Tomasi, among which it is sufficient to recall:

All these were intended to promote a more intimate and personal participation of the people in the celebration of the liturgy.[1]

Tomasi's works (Codici Tommasiani), published chiefly from ancient codices in the Vatican and Vallicellian Libraries and the Library of Christina of Sweden, were praised by the academies of Europe. Chief among his publications are the Codices sacramentorum nongentis annis antiquiores (Rome, 1680), partly transcribed by Mabillon in his Liturgia Gallicana. Following these, in order of time, were: Psalterium (Rouse, 1683), according to the Roman and Gallican editions, published under the name of Giuseppe Maria Caro.[2] In this work Tomasi introduced Origen's symbols, (obeli and asterisks), obsolete for nine centuries.

Under the same pen-name, Tomasi wrote Responsalia et Antiphonaria Rom. Eccl., etc. (Rome, 1686); Sacrorum Bibliorum Tituli, sive capitula (Rome, 1688); Antiqui libri Missarum Rom. Eccl.or the antiphonary of Pope Saint Gregory I, entitled "Comes", written by Alcuin at the order of Charlemagne (Rome, 1691); Officium Domicinae Passionis, used by the Greek Orthodox Church on Good Friday, translated into Latin (Rome, 1695).

Under his own name Tomasi published Speculum (Rome, 1679); Exercitium Fidei, Spei et Caritatis (Rome, 1683); Breviarium psalterii (Rome, 1683); Vera norma di glorificar Dio (Rome, 1687); Fermentum (Rome, 1688); Psalterium cum canticis (Rome, 1697); Indiculus institutionum theologicarum veterurn Patrum ( 3 vols., Rome, 1709, 1710; 1712), an exposition of theological theory and practice, derived from original patristic sources.

Tomasi also wrote numerous opuscula, the last four published by G. Mercati (Rome, 1905). In 1753 Antonio Francesco Vezzosi published his works in 11 quarto volumes.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Joseph Mary Tomasi (1649-1713) Cardinal, of the Order of Clerics Regular Theatine – Biography of Giuseppe Maria Tomasi
  2. Also as J. M. Carus.