Saint of the Day – 16 January – Blessed Giuseppe Tovini OFS (1841-1897) Italian banker and lawyer who became a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, Social and Catholic educational activist, as well as charitable assistance and involved in the beginnings of Catholic Action. His nephew was Blessed Mosè Tovini (1877– 1930). He was born on 14 March 1841 as Giuseppe Antonio Tovini, in Cividate Camuno, Brescia, Italy and died on 16 January 1897 in Brescia, Italy of natural causes. Patronages – Franciscan tertiaries, Lawyers, Bankers, Cividate Camuno.
Giuseppe Antonio Tovini was born in 1841 as the first of seven children to Mosè Tovini and Rosa Malaguzzi. He went to high school in Bergamo from 1852 to 1858 and later graduated from the University of Pavia in August 1865. He then moved to Brescia in 1867 to become a lawyer and obtained all the appropriate qualifications to practice law in 1868.
He later married Emilia Corbolani on 6 January 1875 and they went on to have a total of ten children. One son became a Jesuit priest and two daughters became nuns. From 1871 to 1874, Tovini served as the mayor of Cividate Camuno, his birthplace. As mayor, he made important decisions in the life of the city from promoting the establishment of banks to the construction of infrastructure like railway lines. Most importantly, he worked to defend and help the poor and alienated.
Tovini also became a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and was among the founders of a Catholic newspaper which published its first edition in 1878 after its founding on 3 April. He founded Banca di Valle Camonica in 1872, Banca San Paolo di Brescia in Brescia in 1888, Banco Ambrosiano in Milan in 1896.
In 1882 he founded Saint Joseph’s Kindergarten and helped founded the Union Leone XIII to support the faith of students in university in Brescia and worked support similar groups in other schools. He founded the magazine Modern Italian School in 1893 and the weekly journal La Voce del Popolo in 1893. He helped the Canossian sisters found a teaching college in Cividate Camuno in 1894. He also supported the Catholic University Federation and the creation of Catholic universities in Italy. Further still, Blessed Giuseppe founded the Banca Santa Paolo in Brescia in 1888 and the Society for the Preservation of the Faith in Italian Schools in 1890. The journal Faith and School was founded by Giuseppe in 1891.
He died in 1897 with a reputation for personal holiness.
The cause of beatification was introduced on 14 April 1977 under Pope Paul VI (who was a great admirer of Bl Giuseppe). St Pope John Paul II declared he lived a life of heroic virtue and made him Venerable on 6 April 1995 and approved a miracle attributed to his intercession on 18 December 1997. He was beatified on 20 September 1998.