Ven. Giorgio La Pira 1904-1977

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Ven. Giorgio La Pira

1904-1977

 

On the 5th June 2018 during an audience given by the Holy Father to His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, has given the permission for the promulgation of the Decree regarding the heroic virtues exercised by the Servant of God Giorgio La Pira, a dominican Tertiary, a Christian Democrat member of the Constituent Assembly, member of the italiane Parliament, State Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and mayor of Florence. Through this Decree now we can call the Servant of God “Venerable”, which means that the Holy Church, after the investigation done through the Diocesan process and then studied in Rome, recognizes that La Pira has lived up his life as a lay dominican tertiary and an active man in society in conformity to the Gospel in a most distinguished way.

Giorgio La Pira was born in Pozzallo in the island of Sicily, in the diocese of Noto on the 9th January 1904 to a large family. At 10 years of age he was sent to live with his uncle in Messina in order to give him the opportunity to proceed with his studies; this city becomes a point of reference for him in Sicily. He attended caurses at the faculty of Law and became disciple of Emilio Betti, and when this one went to Florence La Pira followed him and Florence became the city where his life took place.

In Florence he embraced in a friendship with Salvatore Quasimondo and other intellectual youths, and together founded the group “Società Letteraria Peloro”. During the time he attended superior school he had as his professor Federico Rampolla, the nephew of the cardinal Mariano Rampolla; it was thanks to him that Giorgio became orientated to the cristian religious values. Thanks to the meetings he had with the Camillian father Ernesto Fochesato and Guido Ghersi gave him the impulse of a mature interiority that led him to declare on Easter of 1924 that he had understood the sense of the Resurrection through the Eucharist and from that moment he began a profound journey of faith.

Although he tended to keep distince between his studies of the Roman Law and his private spiritual life, he always showed a strong attachment to the moral and religious values. In 1927 he joined the Order of the Preachers as Tertiary thanks to the intuition of fra Enrico di Vita, and took as a religious name “fra Raimondo”. His legacy with the Order was consolidated in a particular way during his stay at the convent of San Marco in Florence between 1936 and 1948. During his time in contact with the friars he became interested in the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas which for him became not only an intellectual figure but was for him a guide for his spiritual life.

He gathered around him a group of youth catholics in an association denominated “Ut unum sint” which merced into the pious solidarity of the Missionaries of the Regality of Christ (Pio Sodalizio dei Missionari della Regalità di Cristo) which was founded by fr. Agostino Gemelli. La Pira was also a leading actor in the institution of the Mass for the poors in an old church dedicated to san Paroclo, an initiative that was linked to the Conference of Saint Vincent of which the Venerable was it’s spiritual and material soul.

One of the mayor characteristics  his figure is his political actions against Fascism, with the help of Cardinal Dalla Costa and such opposition was manifestated in particular from the years 1937 and it was extended to all the totalitarian regimes and found its culmination when in Italy where promulgated the Racial Laws in 1938. We can say that his life was marked by two world wars, but it was the second one that saw him in action. The fight against the atheism of communism, the pagan nazism and the italian fascism can be seen in the journal called “Il Frontespizio”. He has elaborated an original communitarian personalism in line with the integral humanism of J. Maritain, of whom he became friend. He was convinced that catholics should involve themselves in the political moral reconstruction of Italy after the war.

During the second world war because of the fascist persecution he needed to leave Florence and lived in Rome during the nine months occupation of the Eternal city by the germans. It was only on the 15th of August 1944 that he could be back to Florence and was given the tusk of the direction of public assistance of the Florence local government. From there on La Pira started his public life: his participation in the Constituent Assembly from 1946-1948; he was elected in parlament from 1948 to 1953, then he was nominated as sub-secretary to Labour during the government of De Gasperi from 1948 to 1950. At last he was Mayor of his beloved city of Florence from 1951 and 1965. From 1965 till his dead in 1977 he was active in local and foreign politics, with the originality of a political man, but at first he always professed as a cristian. He became famous in international level through his trips in the Soviet Union and in Vietnam, although for some he became a source of scandal. Accepted or rejected he became a mayor person of influence in the political life of Italy, giving, in special way during the period he Mayor of Florence, a profetic example of the role of the cristians in society, in particular way in favour of the poor.

 

 

Fra Llewellyn Muscat O.P.

Secretary of the General Postulation