Antonio Rosmini

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Antonio Rosmini-Serbati
Antonio Rosmini by Hayez.jpg
Portrait by Francesco Hayez
Born(1797-03-24)March 24, 1797
DiedJuly 1, 1855(1855-07-01) (aged 58)
Nationality Italian
Alma mater University of Padua
Era 19th-century philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of Mind, Moral Philosophy, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Theodicy, Natural Theology, Political Philosophy, Education
Monument to Rosmini in Milan (1896). 9350 - Milano - Giardini Pubblici - Monumento ad Antonio Rosmini - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto 22-Apr-2007.jpg
Monument to Rosmini in Milan (1896).

Blessed Antonio Francesco Davide Ambrogio Rosmini-Serbati (Italian pronunciation:  [anˈtɔːnjo roˈzmiːni serˈbaːti] ; Rovereto, 25 March 1797  Stresa, 1 July 1855) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and philosopher. He founded the Rosminians, officially the Institute of Charity or Societas a charitate nuncupata, pioneered the concept of social justice, and was a key figure in Italian Liberal Catholicism. [1] Alessandro Manzoni considered Rosmini the only contemporary Italian author worth reading. [2]

Beatification recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person

Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name. Beati is the plural form, referring to those who have undergone the process of beatification.

Rovereto Comune in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy

Rovereto is a city and comune in Trentino in northern Italy, located in the Vallagarina valley of the Adige River.

Stresa Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Stresa is a town and comune of about 5,000 residents on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, about 90 kilometres (56 mi) northwest of Milan. It is situated on road and rail routes to the Simplon Pass.



Antonio Rosmini Serbati was born 24 March 1797, at Rovereto, in the Austrian Tyrol. He studied at the University of Padua, and was ordained priest at Chioggia, 21 April 1821. In 1822 he received a Doctorate in Theology and Canon Law. [3]

During this time Rosmini formulated his "Principle of Passivity". Rosmini felt compelled to ask himself: Do my plans spring more from my own subjective desire to do good than from a desire to do the will of God?”. Reflecting in this way, Rosmini articulated the principle in two parts: be ready to undertake any work of charity but only so long as it is God’s Providence that presents it; in the meantime, immerse oneself in the commitment to continual conversion, seeking the amendment of one’s own life. [4]

The Institute of Charity

In 1828 he founded at Monte Calvario near Domodossola, a new religious community, the Institute of Charity, known generally since as the Rosminians. In the autumn of 1830 he inaugurated the observance of the rule at Calvario, and from 1834 to 1835 had charge of a parish at Rovereto. Later foundations followed at Stresa and Domodossola. The Constitutions of the institute were approved by presented to Pope Gregory XVI on 20 December 1838. The institute spread rapidly in England and Italy, and requests for foundations came from various countries. [3]

The Rosminians, officially the Institute of Charity or Societas a charitate nuncupata, are a Roman Catholic religious institute founded by Antonio Rosmini and first organised in 1828.

Pope Gregory XVI 254th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Gregory XVI, born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 2 February 1831 to his death in 1846. He had adopted the name Mauro upon entering the religious order of the Camaldolese.

The members might be priests or laymen, who devoted themselves to preaching, the education of youth, and works of universal charity—material, spiritual and intellectual. They work in Italy, England, Ireland, France, Wales, New Zealand, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Venezuela, and the United States. In London they were attached to the historical Church of St Etheldreda, Ely Place, Holborn. [5] In 1962, Rosmini College School for Boys was founded in Auckland, New Zealand by Father Catcheside. [6]

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Rosmini was retained as a political advisor to the then government of Piedmont. In August 1848, he was sent to Rome by King Charles Albert of Piedmont to enlist the pope on the side of Italy as against Austria. [3] Rosmini was invited to serve in the Roman Curia of Pope Pius IX as prime minister of the Papal States. He participated in the intellectual struggle which had for its object emancipation from Austria, but as a trusted ecclesiastical advisor and diplomat he was not an initiator of the movement which ended in the freedom and unity of Italy. In fact, while eager for the deliverance of Italy from Austria, his aim was to bring about a confederation of the states of the country, which was to be under the control of the pope. [5] Upon establishment of the Roman Republic, the Pontiff was forced to flee and became estranged from his former advisor in political matters. The tenuous political circumstances made it very difficult to reconcile the two men's differing projects: innovative social and juridical reforms, however modest, fell victim to the more pressing existential needs of defending the supremacy of the Church's temporal powers.[ citation needed ]

Pope Pius IX 255th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was head of the Catholic Church from 16 June 1846 to his death on 7 February 1878. He was the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving for over 31 years. During his pontificate, Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council (1869–70), which decreed papal infallibility, but the council was cut short owing to the loss of the Papal States.

The Papal States under Pope Pius IX assumed a much more modern and secular character than had been seen under previous pontificates, and yet this progressive modernization was not nearly sufficient in resisting the tide of political liberalization and unification in Italy during the middle of the 19th century.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, formal name: the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.


Rosmini's works, Of the five wounds of the Holy Church and The Constitution of Social Justice (see Works below), aroused great opposition, especially among the Jesuits, and in 1849 they were placed upon the Index. [7] Rosmini at once declared his submission and retired to Stresa on Lago Maggiore, where he died. Before his death he had the satisfaction of learning that the works in question were dismissed, that is, proclaimed free from censure by the Congregation of the Index. Twenty years later, the word dismissed (dimittantur) became the subject of controversy, some maintaining that it amounted to a direct approval, others that it was purely negative and did not imply that the books were free from error. [5] Vincenzo Maria Gatti, the Dominican professor of theology at the College of Saint Thomas, the forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Master of the Sacred Palace, was instrumental in partially rehabilitating the works of Rosmini. In an article published in L'Osservatore Romano on 16 June 1876, Gatti made clear that Pius IX did not intend the "dimittantur" as amounting to wholesale condemnation. [8]

The controversy continued until 1887, when Pope Leo XIII condemned forty of Rosmini's propositions. Referring to this condemnation, however, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document in 2001 in which it declared that "the meaning of the propositions, as understood and condemned by the Decree, does not belong to the authentic position of Rosmini." [9]

In 1998 Rosmini was named by Pope John Paul II in the encyclical Fides et Ratio as one of the greater Christian thinkers.


The most comprehensive view of Rosmini's philosophical standpoint is to be found in his Sistema filosofico, in which he set forth the conception of a complete encyclopaedia of the human knowable, synthetically conjoined, according to the order of ideas, in a perfectly harmonious whole. Contemplating the position of recent philosophy from John Locke to Georg Hegel, and having his eye directed to the ancient and fundamental problem of the origin, truth and certainty of our ideas, he wrote: "If philosophy is to be restored to love and respect, I think it will be necessary, in part, to return to the teachings of the ancients, and in part to give those teachings the benefit of modern methods" (Theodicy, a. 148). He examined and analysed the fact of human knowledge, and obtained the following results:

  1. that the notion or idea of being or existence in general enters into, and is presupposed by, all our acquired cognitions, so that, without it, they would be impossible
  2. that this idea is essentially objective, inasmuch as what is seen in it is as distinct from and opposed to the mind that sees it as the light is from the eye that looks at it
  3. that it is essentially true, because being and truth are convertible terms, and because in the vision of it the mind cannot err, since error could only be committed by a judgment, and here there is no judgment, but a pure intuition affirming nothing and denying nothing
  4. that by the application of this essentially objective and true idea the human being intellectually perceives, first, the animal body individually conjoined with him, and then, on occasion of the sensations produced in him not by himself, the causes of those sensations, that is, from the action felt he perceives and affirms an agent, a being, and therefore a true thing, that acts on him, and he thus gets at the external world, these are the true primitive judgments, containing
    1. the subsistence of the particular being (subject), and
    2. its essence or species as determined by the quality of the action felt from it (predicate)
  5. that reflection, by separating the essence or species from the subsistence, obtains the full specific idea (universalization), and then from this, by leaving aside some of its elements, the abstract specific idea (abstraction)
  6. that the mind, having reached this stage of development, can proceed to further and further abstracts, including the first principles of reasoning, the principles of the several sciences, complex ideas, groups of ideas, and so on without end
  7. finally, that the same most universal idea of being, this generator and formal element of all acquired cognitions, cannot itself be acquired, but must be innate in us, implanted by God in our nature. Being, as naturally shining to our mind, must therefore be what men call the light of reason. Hence the name Rosmini gives it of ideal being; and this he laid down as the fundamental principle of all philosophy and the supreme criterion of truth and certainty. This he believed to be the teaching of St Augustine, as well as of St Thomas, of whom he was an ardent admirer and defender. [5]

The cause for canonization

On 26 June 2006, Pope Benedict XVI signed a Decree of the heroic virtues, and hence declared Rosmini to be Venerable. [10] On 3 June 2007, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of a decree approving Rosmini's beatification. On 18 November 2007 he was beatified in Novara, Italy.


Of his numerous works, of which a collected edition in 17 volumes was issued at Milan (1842–44), supplemented by Opere postume in 5 volumes (Turin, 1859–74), the most important are:

The following have also been translated into English:

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  1. Kraynak, Robert P. (2018). "The Origins of "Social Justice" in the Natural Law Philosophy of Antonio Rosmini". The Review of Politics. 80 (1): 3–29.
  2. Mingardi, Alberto (2007). Intro to The Constitution Under Social Justice. Lexington Books. p. xl.
  3. 1 2 3 Cormack, George, and Daniel Hickey. "Rosmini and Rosminianism." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 15 November 2016.
  4. "Antonio Rosmini", Rosminians, Ireland
  5. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Rosmini-Serbati, Antonio"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 738–739.
  6. "Rosmini College". Auckland, NZ.
  7. Muratore, Umberto. "Antonio Rosmini", Centro Internazionale di studi Rosminiani
  8. Cattaneo, Massimo (1999). "Gatti, Vincenzo Maria". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). 52. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013.
  9. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "Note on the Force of the Doctrinal Decrees Concerning the Thought and Work of Fr Antonio Rosmini Serbati". Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  10. "A Chronological Summary of the Cause of Antonio Rosmini". Institute of Charity. Archived from the original on 28 January 2015.

Further reading

Lockhart, William S., ed. (1886). Life of Antonio Rosmini-Serbati. 2. London: Kegan Paul, Trench. OCLC   902993060.