Giuseppe Lazzati

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Giuseppe Lazzati (June 22, 1909 – May 18, 1986) was rector of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan and for a time an Italian parliamentarian.

The cause of beatification is in course and in 2013 Pope Francis had Lazzati, as a Servant of God, declared Venerable.[1]


Born in 1909 in Milan, the son of Carlo Lazzati and his wife Angela (née Mezzanotte), as a teenager and young adult he experienced the dramatic upheavals in Italian society of the years that followed the First World War, with the violent rise to prominence of Fascism.

In 1927 Lazzati became a student in the Faculty of Classical Literature of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, which was under the direction of Father Agostino Gemelli, and in 1931, received his degree with the grade summa cum laude. That same year he arrived at a decision to remain celibate and to opt for a consecrated life in the world. In 1934 he embarked upon a career as a university lecturer and in the same year became president for the diocese of Milan of the youth wing of Catholic Action (G.I.A.C.), remaining in the post until 1945. In 1939 he was appointed to the grade of “docente incaricato” (Reader) in Ancient Christian Literature at the Catholic University and in the same year founded under the name Milites Christi an organization for consecrated laymen which in 1969 assumed the name Secular Institute of Christ the King.

With the outbreak of the Second World War Lazzati was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Fifth Alpine Regiment, in the Trent Division, and in the wake of the 8 September 1943 Armistice of Cassibile, upon his refusal to swear allegiance to the Fascist puppet rump state, the Italian Social Republic, he was arrested in Merano and interned in Nazi concentration camps, first at Rum, near Innsbruck in Austria, then at Dęblin in Poland and subsequently at Oberlangen, Sandbostel and Wietzendorf in Germany.

He returned to Italy in August 1945 and immediately became involved with Giuseppe Dossetti and Giorgio La Pira in efforts for rebuilding Italian civic life in connection with the convocation of the Constituent Assembly and then entered politics directly. In 1946 Lazzati became part of the national administration of the Christian Democratic Party and was elected to the Constituent Assembly (1946–1948) and then to the Chamber of Deputies of the new Italian Parliament (1948–1953).

With the end of his parliamentary service, he returned to Milan and devoted his energies to the formation of Catholic laity,[2] but the appointment to Milan of a new Archbishop, Giovanni Battista Montini, later Pope Paul VI, led to his appointment to a number of roles, including in 1961 the onerous position of editor of the Catholic daily L'Italia, a post he held until 1964.[3]

Having returned to university lecturing, from 1958 as Ordinary Professor, in 1968, during the storm of student upheavals, Lazzati was appointed to succeed Ezio Franceschini as Rector of the University,[4] a position he held for five three-year terms until 1983. In this period he entrusted the post of Director of the Departiment of Religious Studies to his former assistant Raniero Cantalamessa,[5] at the time Ordinary Professor of the History of Christian Origins. In 1979, upon reaching the age limit, Lazzati retired from the Chair of Ancient Christian Literature and was succeeded by his former student Luigi Franco Pizzolato.

The last years of Lazzati's life were spent trying to find a way out of the profound crisis of Italian politics by relaunching a programme of political ideals through the foundation in 1985 of the association “Città dell'uomo” (A City for Man),[6] a revival in large part of the post-war "Civitas Humana".

Giuseppe Lazzati died in Milan on 18 May 1986, Pentecost Sunday, aged almost 77.

In 1991 the Secular Institute of Christ the King began promoting the cause for Lazzati’s beatification, of which the diocesan phase concluded in 1996, with the personal support of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Archbishop of Milan.[7]

On 5 July 2013 Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to promulgate a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Giuseppe Lazzati, thus in effect conferring on Lazzati the title Venerable.[8]


  • Teofilo d'Alessandria, Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1935.
  • L'Aristotele perduto e gli scrittori cristiani, Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1938.
  • Introduzione allo studio di Clemente Alessandrino, Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1939.
  • Gli sviluppi della litteratura sui martiri nei primi quattro secoli, Torino: Società editrice internazionale 1956.
  • Il fondamento di ogni ricostruzione, Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1947.
  • I Laici nella Chiesa, Milano: Gioventù italiana di azione cattolica, Presidenza diocesana milanese, 1954.
  • Il valore letterario della esegesi ambrosiana, Milano, 1960.
  • Azione cattolica e azione politica, Vicenza: La Locusta, 1962.
  • Maturità del laicato, Brescia: La Scuola, 1962.
  • Lo Spirito Santo nella vita della Chiesa, Milano: Edizione Corsia dei Servi, 1964.
  • La scuola cattolica, Trento: Edizioni scuola cattolica diocesana, 1978.
  • Francesco d'Assisi nell'ottavo centenario della nascità, Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 1982.
  • La città dell'uomo: costruire, da cristiani, la città dell'uomo a misura d'uomo, Roma: AVE, 1984.
  • Laicità e impegno cristiano nelle realtà temporali, Roma: AVE, 1985.
  • Per una nuova maturità del laicato: il fedele, Roma: AVE, 1986.
  • Il laico, Roma: AVE, 1986.
  • Chiesa, laici ed impegno storico: scritti (1947-65) riediti in memoria, Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1987.
  • La carità, Roma: AVE, 1987.
  • La verità, Roma: AVE, 1987.
  • La prudenza, Roma: AVE, 1987.
  • Pensare politicamente, Da cristiani nella società e nello Stato, Roma: AVE, 1988.
  • La vita come vocazione, Roma: AVE, 1990.
  • Il Regno di Dio, Roma: AVE, 1990.
  • Il cristiano nella città dell'uomo, Bezzecca: Citta dell'uomo Valle di Ledro, 1991.
  • La spiritualità laicale, Roma: AVE, 1992.
  • Lo Spirito Santo, Roma: AVE, 1992.
  • Spiritualità della professione, Roma: AVE, 1993.
  • La verità vi farà liberi, In Dialogo, 2006.
  • Chiesa, cittadinanza e laicità, In Dialogo, 2004.
  • Laici cristiani nella città dell'uomo: scritti ecclesiali e politici, 1945-1986, Cinisello Balsamo: San Paolo, 2009.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Giovanni Volta, Lo stile educativo di Giuseppe Lazzati [1]
  3. ^ "L'Italia" di Lazzati. Il quotidiano cattolico milanese agli inizi degli anni sessanta
  4. ^ Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Storia
  5. ^ Novecento controluce, 25 December 2009, interview by Cantalamessa
  6. ^ cittadelluomo - Chi siamo
  7. ^ ::Istituto Secolare Cristo Re - Gli ultimi anni::
  8. ^ Lazzati Venerabile

Secondary Works[edit]

R. Cantalamessa & L.F. Pizzolato (edd.), Paradoxos politeia: Studi patristici in onore di Giuseppe Lazzati, Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1979.

  • A. Oberti (ed.), Giuseppe Lazzati: vivere da laico, Edizioni AVE, Rome, 1991.
  • A. Oberti, Giovanni Battista Montini e Giuseppe Lazzati, Roma: AVE, 1992.
  • Lazzati, il lager, il regno, Roma: AVE, 1993.
  • Lazzati, i laici, la secolarità, Roma: AVE, 1994.
  • Lazzati e le ACLI, Roma: AVE, 1995.
  • Lazzati, Dossetti, il dossettismo, Roma: AVE, 1997.
  • M. Rizzi, Lazzati e l'Ad Diognetum, Roma: AVE, 1999.
  • Il “progetto culturale” di Giuseppe Lazzati, Roma AVE 1999
  • T. Turi, Laicità e laicato nel pensiero di Giuseppe Lazzati, Città del Vaticano: Pontificia Università Lateranense, 1990.
  • A. Oberti, La Città dell'uomo nel mistero di Dio: Giuseppe Lazzati, Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2002.
  • M. Malpensa & A. Parola, Lazzati. Una sentinella nella notte (1909-1986), Bologna: Il Mulino, 2005.

See also[edit]

External Website[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Ezio Franceschini
Rector of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
1968 - 1983
Succeeded by
Adriano Bausola