David Maria Turoldo. la Vita, la Testimonianza (1916-1992)

By Faggioli, Massimo | The Catholic Historical Review, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

David Maria Turoldo. la Vita, la Testimonianza (1916-1992)


Faggioli, Massimo, The Catholic Historical Review


David Maria Turoldo. La vita, la testimonianza (1916-1992). By Mariangela Maraviglia. [Storia, vol. 74.] (Brescia: Morcelliana. 2016. Pp. 464. €30,00 paperback. ISBN 978-88-372-2956-6.)

David Maria Turoldo was one of the most influential Italian Catholics of the twentieth century, and Mariangela Maraviglia has written an incredibly detailed and complete biography that covers his whole life. A priest of the Order of Friar Servants of Mary (Servites), Turoldo lived the most important moments of Italian church history, in the most important places in Italy. He is a key figure for those who try to understand the complex relations between religion, culture, and politics in the last century in Italy.

The first chapter discusses the origins of Giuseppe (David Maria was his monastic name), born into a poor family of sharecroppers in northeastern Italy during World War I, not far from the frontline with Austria. His first experiences of clerical formation (beginning in 1929-30) in the institute of the Servite order were shaped by the legacy of the anti-Modernist purge of 1907 and an environment suspicious of intellectualism that Turoldo would have to deal with his whole life. Maraviglia delves also into Turoldo's early fascination, that he shared with many Italian catholics, with the Fascist regime. The second chapter sees Turoldo as one of the members of the catholic resistance against Fascism during World War II, after his arrival at the convent of San Carlo in Milan in 1941, disabused of the illusion of a restoration of catholicism thanks to Fascism. In Milan Turoldo got in touch with important figures of Italian Catholicism, thanks to his enrollment at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (1942), which began to work as the cradle of the post-World War II Italian Catholic political leaders: there he read French nouvelle théologie, but also Jacques Maritain, Romano Guardini, Gilbert K. Chesterton, and, in 1946, the pastoral letter of Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard of Paris, deciding afterward to publish an Italian translation (chapter three).

Chapter four follows Turoldo in the effervescent postwar Italian Catholicism: Turoldo moved from Milan to the small college town of urbino to teach philosophy (1947), and wrote for the journal Cronache Sociali edited by Giuseppe Dossetti. In this period, Turoldo began to publish poetry, an activity that was to make him known to a large audience in Italy. His relations with the leadership of the Servite order continued to be complicated, if not difficult, because of his intellectual and political contacts (Christian-Democrats but also Communists) and friendships (for example, Father Primo Mazzolari), contacts considered unorthodox and lacking prudence. Between 1949 and 1951 (chapter five) Turoldo was at the community of Nomadelfia, one of the most famous experiments of Christian community in Italian modern Catholicism, but also an occasion of divisions between the Servites and their superiors: Turoldo was forced to leave the community, in a decade when the pontificate of Pius XII intervened to suppress many different kinds of pastoral experiments, not only in Italy. …

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