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Brief Biography of Blessed Antonio Rosmini
24th March: Antonio Francesco Davide Ambrogio Rosmini was born at Rovereto, a small town in Trentino, North Italy. The Rosmini family enjoyed great wealth and belonged to the nobility of the Austrian Empire. His father, Pier Modesto, was an upright and conservative man, and his mother, Giovanna dei Conti Formenti, was an amiable woman, discreet, warm, educated, and very religious. Antonio had an older sister, Gioseffa-Margherita, and two younger brothers, Giuseppe and Felice (the latter died during the first year of his life).25th March: Antonio was baptised on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
|1804-1812||His father chose a public school for Antonio rather than private education at home by tutors, as was the custom for aristocratic families. He had a happy childhood, with a special gift for friendship.|
|1812-1814||Antonio studied the Humanities and Rhetoric in the Gymnasium at Rovereto. During 1813-1814 he wrote “A Day of Solitude”, and in 1813 he wrote in his Personal Diary, “This year was for me a year of grace: God opened my eyes over many things, and I knew that there is no true wisdom but in God”. This was the start of his priestly vocation.|
|1814-1816||His parents decided not to send him to Trento. He studied Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics at Rovereto with a small group of friends, and the course was done privately, in the house of his cousin Antonio Fedrigotti, guided by the priest Pietro Orsi.|
12th August: Antonio took his examinations in Literature, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Geometry, Algebra, and Physics at the Imperial Lyceum at Trento achieving brilliant results.22nd November: Rosmini arrived at Padua to study Theology at the University. He met Niccolo’ Tommaseo, who became a life-long friend.
|1818||16th and 17th May: Antonio received the tonsure and the Minor Orders. He planned with friends to write a Christian Encyclopaedia in answer to the atheist “Encyclopedie” written by Diderot and D’Alembert.|
|1819||21st November: he returned to Rovereto to prepare for the priesthood. He made plans for a “Society of Friends”.|
January: his father, Pier Modesto, died at the age of 75, leaving Antonio heir of the Rosmini Serbati fortune.
|1821||21th April: Antonio was ordained priest at Chioggia, and on 3rd of May he celebrated a solemn Mass in his parish Church of St. Mark in Rovereto. In line with his “principle of passivity”, he withdrew quietly, engaging in the task of purification, acquisition of virtues, and union with God, and waiting for God to call him into action.|
During Lent, the Bishop sent him to Lizzana, as a helper to the dying parish priest.22nd June: He discussed his doctoral thesis, “De Sibyllis lucubratiuncula” [on pagan prophecies foretelling the coming of Christ] and was declared Doctor of Theology and Canon Law.
6th – 29th April: the Patriarch of Venice, Mons. Ladislaus Pyrcher, asked Antonio to accompany him on his journey to Rome. Pope Pius VII encouraged Rosmini to write books.20th August: at the death of Pius VII, the priests in Rovereto asked Rosmini to preach the Panegyric on the holy and glorious memory of Pius VII. In it, he elevated to God a passionate prayer for the independence of Italy, which marked the start of the persecution of Rosmini by the Austrian authorities.
|1824||His sister, Gioseffa Margherita, joined in Verona the religious Institute founded by the Countess Maddalena of Canossa. Gioseffa Margherita died in 1833 at the age of 39, consumed by her dedication and love for the poor.|
He wrote the book, On the Unity of Education, and another on Divine Providence, which would become the second volume of his Theodicy.10th December: he wrote in his Diary, “On this day I conceived in a flash the plan of the Institute of Charity”. He communicated his religious experience and his thoughts to the Countess Maddalena of Canossa.
|1826||He left Rovereto for Milan where he resided for two years doing research and writing his work on Politics. He met Count Mellerio [ex-Governor of Milan] and Alessandro Manzoni [the most famous of Italian poets and novelists of the 19th century]. They established very strong friendships for life.|
He wrote the first volume of his Theodicy, and other works on Italian Literature.8th June: he met John Baptist Loewenbruck, a fiery priest from Lorraine, who urged Rosmini to found a new religious Order. They agreed to meet at Calvario of Domodossola, where there was a retreat house and a shrine dedicated to the crucified JESUS.
20th February, Ash Wednesday: Rosmini was alone at Calvario in Domodossola and began a period of prayer and fasting, writing the Constitutions of the Institute of Charity. Loewenbruck joined him much later, in June. The date marked the birth of the Institute of Charity. Rosmini remembered the prophecy made to him years earlier by the Countess Maddalena of Canossa, “I wish the Sons of Charity to be born between JESUS on the Cross and His sorrowful Mother”: the shrine at Calvario had at the back of the main altar the powerful statues of Christ on the Cross and of His sorrowful Mother.November: Rosmini was in Rome, seeking direction from the Pope, and planning to publish in the capital city of Christendom his fundamental works on Spirituality [The Maxims of Christian Perfection] and Philosophy [A New Essay concerning the Origin of Ideas].
|1829||15th May: Rosmini’s friend, Cardinal Cappellari [later, Pope Gregory XVI], organised the meeting of Rosmini with the Pope, Pius VIII. It was a truly memorable meeting during which the Pope confirmed Rosmini’s double mission as a Catholic thinker and as a founder of a new religious Order. The words of the Pope were the following: “It is the will of God that you write books, this is your vocation” and “If you intend to begin in a small way, leaving the Lord to do the rest, we give our approval and are very happy for you to continue”.|
He published in Rome the Maxims of Christian Perfection and A New Essay concerning the Origin of Ideas. The latter brought him fame and admiration in philosophical circles in Italy and abroad.
|1832-1833||He wrote the book, The Five Wounds of the Church, but he did not publish it. During this time Rosmini laid the foundation for the Sisters of Providence, giving them the Constitutions and receiving their first perpetual vows in the month of October 1838.|
Rosmini was parish priest at Rovereto, at the request of clergy and people. He was forced to resign after only one year of intense pastoral work, by the constant harassment of the Austrian police. He wrote the important book on the Renewal of Philosophy.15th June 1835: Rosmini sent Luigi Gentili with two companions to England at the request of Bishop Baines. It was the beginning of the Institute of Charity in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Rosmini’s words to Gentili, “Adopt the English way of life little by little in all that is not sinful”.
|1837||Rosmini sent the Constitutions of the Institute of Charity to Pope Gregory XVI for formal approval. After months of unexpected difficulties, the Pope gave his full approval on 20th December 1838. In a letter to his brethren, Rosmini said, “How good is the Child JESUS, He has given us today a great gift, adding happiness to happiness”. In the Apostolic Letters of Approval, the Pope said of Rosmini: “Antonio Rosmini is a man of eminent intellect, adorned with noble qualities of soul, exceedingly famous for his knowledge of things human and divine, outstanding for his remarkable piety, religion, virtue, probity, prudence and integrity, conspicuous for his wonderful love and loyalty to the Catholic religion and to this Apostolic See”.|
|1839||Rosmini moved his residence to Stresa. He wrote A Treatise on Moral Conscience, which was fiercely opposed by anonymous critics. Rosmini was accused of holding heretical views, and Cardinals and Bishops received copies of slanderous and anonymous booklets written by Eusebio Cristiano (a pseudonym). Rosmini defended his views, but to no avail. It was the start of a long and harsh campaign against Rosmini, with the aim of having Rosmini’s works on philosophy and theology condemned by the Church.|
|1841-1843||Rosmini published The Philosophy of Right, in two volumes, of 1700 pages.|
|1842||15th January: Rosmini’s mother, Giovanna, died at the age of 85.|
|1843||7th March: Pope Gregory XVI intervened in the ongoing controversy between Rosmini and some members of the Company of JESUS (Jesuits), imposing silence on both parties. The Pope, however, stood by Rosmini, knowing that the attacks against him were caused by jealousy.|
|1843-1848||A period of relative calm, during which Rosmini dedicated his energy to the Institute of Charity and the Sisters of Providence (Rosminian Sisters). He wrote and published the three volumes of the Theodicy, and other philosophical and theological works.|
|1847||Rosmini was once again attacked as a heretic of the worst kind, and a collection of 327 propositions taken indiscriminately from his works was published anonymously under the title “Postille”. The booklet was sent to Cardinals and Bishops with the request that the works of Rosmini be condemned by the Church.|
|1848||Rosmini published the Five Wounds of the Church and the Constitutions according to social justice. 3rd August: the Government of Piedmont sent Rosmini to the Pope Pius IX with the double mission of fostering a Concordat between the Church and Piedmont and of persuading the Pope to accept to be the President of a Confederation of free Italian States. 15th August: Pius IX welcomed Rosmini and told him to prepare for the cardinalate. He was told of the intentions of the Pope of appointing him Secretary of State. He had free and frequent access to the Pope. 15th November: the Prime Minister of the Papal States was assassinated signalling the start of an insurrection in Rome. The Pope was advised to flee the city in disguise and was welcomed in Gaeta by the king of Naples. The Pope gave the order to Rosmini to follow him into exile in Gaeta, with the Pope’s brother. Cardinal Antonelli, a staunch supporter of Austria, began his work of discrediting Rosmini in the eyes of the Pope, making life difficult and closing all avenues for Rosmini to even see or talk to the Pope.|
|1849||January: Rosmini left Gaeta for Naples, to see to the publications of minor works. His enemies took advantage, rushing through the condemnation of two of Rosmini’s works: The Five Wounds of Holy Church and The Constitutions according to social justice. 6th of June: The Pope gave his formal approval to the condemnation. 9th of June: Rosmini was back in Gaeta and had an audience with the Pope; Pius IX was kind and friendly, as usual, but did not mention the condemnation of the two books. Soon after, Rosmini was told by the local police to leave the kingdom of Naples, and he was denied the opportunity of saying goodbye to the Pope. 15th August: Rosmini, on his way back to Stresa, was informed by letter of the condemnation of his two works and submitted at once in full obedience to the will of the Church. 2nd November: Rosmini was back in Stresa. During the troubled times at Gaeta, Naples, and on the way to Stresa he wrote one of the most profound of his books, The Introduction to the Gospel of St. John.|
|1850||Rosmini published the Introduction to Philosophy. During the year, a small group of Jesuits re-launched their attack on Rosmini with the anonymous publications of malicious books.|
|1851||12th March: Pius IX renewed to both opposing parties (Jesuits and supporters of Rosmini) the imposition of silence. The Pope, in his desire to clear the problem once and for all, instructed the Congregation of the Index to examine all the works of Antonio Rosmini.|
|1854||3rd July: The General Congregation of the Index, presided on the occasion by the Pope himself, declared free from errors all the works of Antonio Rosmini (“Dimittantur Opera Omnia Antonii Rosmini”).|
|1855||22nd February: owing to severe illness, Rosmini was forced to interrupt his work on Theosophy, a profound metaphysical work.|
|1855||1st July: After a most painful agony which lasted 8 hours, Antonio Rosmini died in the early hours, on the feast of the most Precious Blood of JESUS. He was 58 years old.|
|1888||Pope Leo XIII condemned 40 Propositions, taken out of context and mainly from the posthumous and unfinished works of Antonio Rosmini, because “they do not seem conformable with Catholic truth”.|
|2001||1st July: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a Nota which stated: “‘..... It must be recognised that extensive, serious and rigorous scientific literature on Antonio Rosmini’s thought has been developed in the Catholic field by theologians and philosophers of various schools of thought, and this has shown that interpretations contrary to faith and Catholic doctrine do not correspond in reality with Rosmini’s genuine position.’ Further, it concludes that ‘the meaning of the [forty] propositions, as understood and condemned by the Decree [Post Obitum] does not in fact pertain to Rosmini’s genuine position but to possible conclusions from the reading of his works.’|
|2006||26th June: The Holy See declared the “heroic virtues” of the Venerable Antonio Rosmini.|
|2007||18 November: Antonio Rosmini was declared Blessed; he had begun his book on The Five Wounds of the Church on 18th November 1832.|
INSTITUTE OF CHARITY
The Institute of Charity was born ”between JESUS Crucified and His sorrowful Mother” at the shrine of the Crucifixion on Mount Calvary in the outskirt of the town of Domodossola. Rosmini wrote the Constitutions of the Institute of Charity in three months, beginning on 20th February 1828.
The Constitutions received the formal approval of the Church on 20th December 1838. By that time, the Rosminian Family had grown at a rapid pace, in Italy as well as in England; it had Fathers and Brothers, Sisters, Adoptive Sons, and Ascribed members, the latter being lay people who become members of the Institute by adopting the spiritual charism and works of charity of the Institute.
Today, the Institute of Charity is present in Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland, USA, New Zealand, Kenya, Tanzania, Venezuela, and India. The members are bound together by the common effort to pursue holiness and reach the safety of Heaven by consecrating themselves totally to loving God and neighbour. Their vow of universal obedience allows them to be open to any work of charity willed by Divine Providence, through the indications of the Church and of the Superiors.
The Institute is dedicated to the three forms of charity which are the sum of all charity: spiritual, intellectual, and temporal. Spiritual charity, the highest of the three, is pursued by means of the pastoral and spiritual care of souls in parishes, retreat centres, and missionary work. Intellectual charity is pursued by means of education in schools, Colleges, and Universities; by the publications of books and articles, and by other forms of cultural media that advance the human journey to the fullness of truth, and to God. Temporal charity deals with the temporal needs of people, and it embraces all works in favour of the sick, the poor, and the marginalised.
Antonio Rosmini was a great philosopher and theologian, as well as a profound spiritual master. He had his vocation as a writer confirmed in no uncertain words by a number of Popes: Pius VII, Pius VIII, Leo XII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX. They knew the power and solidity of his ideas and urged him to “take people by means of reason to lead them to religion”.
Rosmini wrote more than 100 volumes on philosophy, theology, and spirituality. Translation into English began in earnest, but not in a systematic way. It was only in the early 1990s that a decision was taken to produce an accurate translation of all the works of Antonio Rosmini, and this work was committed to two outstanding Rosminian priests, Fr Denis Cleary and Fr Terry Watson.
They were fortunate to be helped in their endeavour by a trust set up by an Italian benefactor, which allowed them to buy a house in Durham and to publish over 30 volumes in the English language, posting them, free of charge, to all major Universities and Colleges worldwide, as a means of spreading the philosophy and theology of their Fr Founder.
They made a careful selection of the books to be translated, following the principle that translation of the major works of philosophy had their priority. Today, thanks to their efforts, English-speaking readers have the opportunity of become acquainted with Rosmini’s teaching on Epistemology, Ethics, Anthropology, Psychology, Philosophy of Right, Theodicy, Theosophy, and Politics. They did not neglect the theological and spiritual writings, but offered, from time to time, translations of the most important of them, such as the Constitutions of the Institute of Charity, God’s gift of Love, the Maxims of Christian Spirituality, and many others.
Today, Rosmini Publications operates within the same objectives: translation of the works, distribution to all major learning Centres, writings about the philosophy, theology, and spirituality of Blessed Rosmini, articles and the use of other means provided by modern means of communication to help the people of today overcome their existential problems with the aid of a powerful source of ideas.
Rosmini’s writings are highly persuasive: reading his works is an immersion into light and into truth, and a feeling of love and of longing for the fullness of truth and charity in the Trinitarian God. Many people have had their life changed radically by the encounter with the writings of Antonio Rosmini.
This website is meant to keep people up to date on the works of Blessed Rosmini, and to give an opportunity to all to view beforehand all published books, and to buy them. It is also meant to provide explanations of our discussions on Rosmini’s views, making it a true means for exchanges and clarification.
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