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Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

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Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster (January 18, 1880—August 30, 1954) was a Benedictine monk and Cardinal Archbishop of Milan during World War II. He was beatified on May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II.

Early life and family

Ildefonso Schuster (born Alfredo Ludovico Schuster) was born on January 18, 1880 in Rome, Italy, the son of Giovanni (Johann) Schuster, a Bavarian tailor and double widower, and Maria Ana Tutzer. Schuster's sister, Giulia, entered the Order of 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 Teutonic 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 (S. Paolo fuori le mura) in November 1891. On November 13, 1898 he joined the Order of St. Benedict at the novitiate of the monastery of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, where he took the name Ildefonso and professed on November 13, 1900. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy on June 14, 1903 and then a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Academy of S. Anselmo in Rome.[1]

Church career


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

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


Schuster was elected archbishop of Milan on June 26, 1929. On July 13, 1929 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]


Template:Infobox deadcardinalstyles Schuster was created cardinal-priest by Pope Pius XI on July 15, 1929, receiving the title of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti on July 18, 1929. He was consecrated on July 21, 1929 in the Sistine Chapel by Pius XI personally, assisted by Carlo Cremonesi and Agostino Zampini.[1]

On August 15, 1932, he was made Papal legate to the celebration of Our Lady of Caravaggio; on March 21, 1934 legate to the 10th centennial of Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland; on September 15, 1937 legate to the inauguration of the new facade of the cathedral of Desio; and on August 2, 1951 legate to the National Eucharistic Conference in Assisi.[1]

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

Relations with fascism

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.[2] On October 28, 1935, while celebrating mass in the Duomo di Milano, Schuster asked God to protect the Italian troops as "they open the door of Ethiopia to the Catholic faith and Roman civilisation", and blessed the banners of the departing troops. The ensuing conflict led to the deaths of around 750,000 Ethiopians, and included the use of chemical weaponry.[3]

April 1945

On 25 April 1945 he hosted in the archibishop's palace in Milan a meeting between Italian partisans and Mussolini in order to obtain a truce between the two parts, but Mussolini didn't accept demand for unconditional surrender made by Marazza and Pertini (who was late and could not meet the Duce), 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 at 6. Mussolini had a chat with Schuster, who gave him a glass of rosolio to drink and a copy of a book he had written about the life of a Saint, and then he started preaching humility to the Duce. 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.

At the time, the Nazis were in full control of Northern Italy. Mussolini may have heard for the first time of peace ouvertures made by SS General Karl Wolff in Switzerland with Allen Dulles, but a real surrender of all German forces in Italy could be signed only after the death of Adolf Hitler. Therefore, Schuster's meeting had no hope of success and perhaps put the resistance leaders who agreed to participate at geat risk.[4]

Death and legacy

IMG 6910. - Milano - Duomo - Corpo Idelfonso Schuster - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto - 8-Mar-2007

Schuster's tomb in the duomo of Milan

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

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


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Miranda, Salvator. 1998. "Biographical Dictionary: (1903-2005): S."
  2. Lee, 1987, p. 126; Chadwick, 1988, p. 8.
  3. Farrell, 2005, p. 268.
  4. Storia d'ItaliaMontanelli Cervi,Rizzoli 2001


  • Chadwick, Owen. 1988. Britain and the Vatican During the Second World War. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Farrell, Nicholas. 2005. Mussolini: A New Life. Phoenix: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Lee, Stephen J. 2000. European Dictatorships, 1918-1945. New York: Routledge.
  • Bl. Ildefonso Schuster
Preceded by
Eugenio Tosi
Archbishop of Milan
Succeeded by
Giovanni Battista Montini
la:Alfredus Ildefons Schusterno:Alfredo Ildefonso Schusterru:Шустер, Альфредо Ильдефонсо

fi:Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

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