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Giuseppe Maria Tomasi

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Giuseppe Maria Tomasi
Giuseppe maria tomasi.jpg
Saint Joseph Maria Tomasi, Cardinal of the Order of Theatine Regular Clerics
Born 12 September 1649, Sicily
Died 1 January 1713, Rome
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1803 by Pope Pius VII
Canonized October 12, 1986 by Pope John Paul II
Major shrine Sant'Andrea della Valle
Feast January 1
St. Giuseppe Maria Tomasi (Tommasi) or Joseph Tommasi (1649–1713) was born at Licata, Sicily, of a princely family. He was an Italian Theatine scholar and reformer, and cardinal. He was beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1803, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1986.


His own life was oriented toward God from his first years. Formed and educated in the noble paternal home, where they did not lack riches nor virtue, 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 court of Madrid, as he was bound to inherit from his own father, for his own noble titles, that of "Grande of Spain".

But his 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 notarial document, the principate, which belonged to him through heredity, and his very rich patrimony, he was admitted into the Order of the Clerics Regular Theatine, founded by St. Cajetan of Thien in 1524. He made his religious profession in the Theatine house of St. Joseph, at Palermo, on 25 March 1666.

Though destined by his father for the Spanish Court, he joined the Clerks Regular of the Theatine Order at Palermo, 24 March 1665, renouncing his primogeniture and the princedom in favour of his brother. He was professed 25 March 1666. He studied philosophy, first at Messina, and later, owing to poor health, at Ferrara and Modena; and theology in Rome and Palermo. He was ordained priest on Christmas Day, 1673. To a wide knowledge of Greek, he united the study of Ethiopic, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic and Hebrew—converting his master 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, he considered that a good part of his own religious perfection lay in dedicating himself, with the spirit of faith, to the publication of rare liturgical books and of the ancient texts of the sacred Liturgy, and so bringing to light many ancient sacred scriptures 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 "Congregatio super Disciplinâ Regulari" and other Congregations, consultor of the Congregations of Rites and Indulgences, and qualificator of the Holy Office. The same pope created him cardinal-priest of the Title of S. Martino ai Monti and compelled him to accept the honour.

He taught catechism to the children of the poor in his titular church. He introduced the use of Gregorian chant in his church. On his death he was mourned by all, even by the pope, who so admired his sanctity that he consulted him before accepting the papacy.


His 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 Father Tomasi, among which it is sufficient to recall: the present-day form of the Liturgy of the Hours for the prayer of the Divine Office; the distinction and use of the Missal and of the Lectionary in the celebration of the Eucharist; various norms contained in the Pontifical and in the Roman Ritual; the use of the vernacular language, which he himself recommended in private devotions and in the prayers made in common by the faithful; all intended to promote a more intimate and personal participation of the People of God at the celebration of the sacred Liturgy.[1]

His 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, entitled "Comes", written by Alcuin at the order of Charlemagne (Rome, 1691); "Officium Domicinae Passionis", used by the Greeks on Good Friday, translated into Latin (Rome, 1695).

Under his proper name he 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.

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


scn:San Giuseppi Maria Tumasi tl:Giuseppe Maria Tomasi

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