Saint of the Day – 30 August – Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster OSB (1880-1954) aged 74 Cardinal, Archbishop of Milan, Benedictine Monk and Abbot, Writer, Liturgical scholar – born Alfredo Ludovico Luigi Schuster on 18 January 1880 at Rome, Italy and died on 30 August 1954 at Venegono, Italy of natural causes. Patronage – Archdiocese of Milan. His body is incorupt.
Alfredo Ludovico Schuster was born on 18 January 1880 in Rome, Italy, the son of Giovanni (Johann) Schuster, a Bavarian tailor and double widower and Maria Anna Tutzer. Schuster’s sister, Giulia, entered 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 German Cemetery, next to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Schuster completed his secondary-level studies at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in November 1891. On 13 November 1898, he joined the Order of St Benedict at the novitiate of the monastery community of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, when he took the name Ildefonso and later professed monastic vows on 13 November 1900. He graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy on 14 June 1903 and later received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Atheneum of St Anselm in Rome.
He was ordained on 19 March 1904 at the patriarchal Lateran Basilica in Rome by Cardinal Pietro Respighi, its archpriest and Vicar general of Rome. He returned to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in 1904 and became Master of novices in 1908, prior in 1916 and was elected abbot-ordinary of the abbey on 6 April 1918.
On 26 June 1029 he was elected Archbishop of Milan. On the following 13 July, 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.
He was created Cardinal priest by Pope Pius XI on 15 July 1929, receiving the titular church of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti on 18 July 1929. He was consecrated on 21 July 1929 in the Sistine Chapel by Pope Pius personally. Cardinal Schuster served as a papal legate on several occasions. On 15 August 1932, he was appointed legate to the celebration of Our Lady of Caravaggio; on 21 March 1934, to the millennial anniversary of Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland; on 15 September 1937, to the inauguration of the new facade of the cathedral of Desio; and on 2 August 1951, to the National Eucharistic Conference in Assisi. Bl Alfredo participated in the papal conclave of 1939, which elected Pope Pius XII on the eve of World War II.
There were claims during the process for Schuster’s beatification that he was sympathetic to Italian Fascism. While there is evidence of some support for Italy’s military ambitions, there is also evidence that he denounced the anti-Christian element of Fascist philosophy. He reportedly refused to participate in ceremonies involving Mussolini and condemned racist legislation during the Fascist period.
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. On 28 October 1935, while celebrating Mass in the Cathedral of Milan, he 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. In 1938, Bl Alfredo’s views changed sharply, after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany and the introduction of German racial doctrines into Italy with the Italian Racial Laws. During World War II the Cardinal was attacked by the Fascist and Nazi press without suffering any loss of esteem among his people. In the postwar years, Cardinal Schuster frequently emphasised the danger of totalitarianism inspired either by Fascism or Communism.
Although the cardinal sought Mussolini out on 25 April 1945 and urged him to make his peace with God and his fellow man, Mussolini spurned the admonition and was assassinated within a week.
Bl Alredo died on 30 August 1954 in the Archiepiscopal Seminary Pio XI near Milan. Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (the future St Pope John XXIII) celebrated his funeral. He was buried on 2 September 1954 in the metropolitan cathedral of Milan, next to his two immediate predecessors. He was honoured with the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
The diocesan process of his cause for sainthood was opened on 30 August 1957 by Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini (the future St Pope Paul VI) and concluded on 31 October 1963. After his tomb was opened on 28 January 1985, his body was found to be intact. Schuster was declared Venerable on 26 March 1994 by St Pope John Paul II and Beatified on 12 May 1996, after acceptance of a miracle involving the curing of an eye disease.
As a Liturgical scholar. his mosst famous work Liber Sacramentorum, known in its English translation as The Sacramentary, was written while he was still a Benedictine monk of the Roman Rite and although dated in some respects, remains an invaluable reference point for liturgical scholarship. When he was appointed Archbishop of Milan by Pope Pius XI, (who was himself Milanese and had held that office for six months before his Papal election), he embraced the Ambrosian liturgy wholeheartedly, and as the ex-officio head of the Congregation for the Ambrosian Rite, strongly defended and promoted the authentic uses of that tradition. He also oversaw important new editions of the Ambrosian musical books, which are still used in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Rite to this day. He wrote:
“The Church’s Liturgy may…be considered as a sacred poem, in the framing of which both heaven and earth have taken part and by which our humanity, redeemed in the blood of the Lamb without spot, rises on the wings of the Spirit even unto the throne of God Himself. This is more than a mere aspiration, for the Sacred Liturgy not only shows forth and expresses the ineffable and the divine but also, by means of the sacraments and of its forms of prayer, develops and fulfils the supernatural in the souls of the faithful, to whom it communicates the grace of redemption. It may even be said, that the very source of holiness of the Church is fully contained in her Liturgy; for, without the holy sacraments, the Passion of our Lord, in the existing dispensation instituted by almighty God, we would have no efficacy in us, since there would be no channels capable of conveying its treasure to our souls.”
Ildefonso Schuster, The Sacramentary, vol. I
Almighty God, through Your grace,
Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster,
by his exemplary virtue, built up the flock entrusted to him.
Grant that we, under the guidance of the Gospel,
may follow his teaching and walk in sureness of life,
until we come to see You face-to-face in Your eternal kingdom.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your son, who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.