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Joseph Toniolo

Joseph Toniolo


Joseph Toniolo

Two degrees in your pocket and a family to support

by Andrea Bernardini - “Toscana Oggi” 7 March 2012

The venerable Giuseppe Toniolo was born in Treviso on 7 March 1845. His birthplace is no longer there, destroyed by bombing. On its ashes another building was built between the fifties and sixties of the last century. The "new" building, yellow in color, structured on four floors, stands on the left side of Piazza Sant'Andrea - that is the highest point in Treviso - a stone's throw from the fountain of the Zodiac.
On the facade of the building, on the first floor, there is a plaque with the inscription: "So that the memory of Prof. Giuseppe Toniolo remains marked and sacred over the centuries to the loving gratitude of the workers from all over the world by the words and example of the revered sublime believer enlightened and urged to unite with Christ! ».
Our virtual "journey" around the early years of Toniolo's life begins here. We do it in the company of Pietro Furlan, teacher, originally from Pieve di Soligo, brother of the late Pierluigi, professor of modern literature and parish priest of Mezzana for almost forty years. Pietro Furlan, born in 1929, knows the venerable well. His booklet: «The Servant of God Giuseppe Toniolo. A lay saint for the third millennium ».

What do we know about the family of the venerable Giuseppe Toniolo?
«Giuseppe was the son of Antonio Toniolo, a native of Schio (Vicenza) and of Isabella Alessandri of Massanzago (Padua). The father practiced the profession of engineer and was civil engineer officer. The mother was a housewife.
The parents were of sound and upright principles and transmitted genuine human, moral and religious values ​​to Joseph ”.

Due to the father's profession, the family often had to move from city to city ...
«It is for this reason that, in order not to compromise Giuseppe's education, his parents decided to entrust him to the“ Santa Caterina ”boarding school, now Foscarini, in Venice. Here he refined his character and enriched his mind under the wise guidance of the rector Monsignor Dalla Vecchia.
Then Giuseppe followed his family to Padua, where he enrolled in the Faculty of Law of the local university. It will be released in 1867, therefore only twenty-two, with a degree in civil and canon law in his pocket after having discussed the thesis on “the ethical element as an intrinsic factor of the economy”.
Unfortunately, the father died prematurely. And Giuseppe Toniolo, as the eldest son, to provide for the maintenance of his family - with his mother, also two brothers and a sister who died at the age of thirteen - was forced for some time to practice as a lawyer to help the his family found themselves in financial straits. But his soul and his intellect were for social and economic studies. Thus it was that he resumed and completed his studies in economic and political sciences at the University of Padua; and in these he graduated brilliantly supporting the thesis “the ethical element as an intrinsic factor of the economy” which aroused the admiration and strengthened the esteem of his professors: Angelo Messedaglia, Fedele Lampertico and Luigi Luzzati. With the latter, who later became president of the council of ministers, Toniolo will maintain an affectionate friendship throughout his life ».

The beginning of a brilliant professional career ...
«At the age of only 26, therefore in 1873, Giuseppe obtained a free lecturer in Political Economy. A year later he went to teach at the technical institute of Venice and, after having made the substitute teacher of Messedaglia at the University of Padua, he was called as an extraordinary professor at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (1878), to finally land as full professor at the University of Pisa, where he held the chair of Political Economy from 1883 until his death in 1918 ».

What was the cultural climate that reigned in those years?
«Toniolo is considered the creator of Christian sociology who, by his brilliant intuition and fervent impulse, had to reconcile the new ferments with the indestructible teachings of truth, justice and charity contained in the Gospel and with the consequent directives of the Church. All this at a time when Moleschott was teaching materialism at the University of Turin, Lombroso was applying materialism to the criminal sciences and Labriola to economics, Anguilli and Siciliani were teaching positivism at the University of Bologna ".

Let's talk about friendship with the Schiratti ...
«While studying at the University of Padua, Giuseppe had made friends with Gaetano and Renato Schiratti from Pieve di Soligo (Treviso). Of the two brothers, Gaetano is perhaps the best known: he was mayor of Pieve di Soligo from 1885 to 1890, provincial councilor from 1890 to 1895 and in 1895 deputy to parliament for the district of Conegliano Veneto. Giuseppe Toniolo will often exchange hospitality with the Schiratti brothers on summer holidays and will establish bonds of familiarity, which will lead him to meet his life partner, Maria Schiratti, and to choose his favorite stay: the charming Pieve di Soligo, where Giuseppe and Maria will marry on 4 September 1878, being Archpriest of Pieve Monsignor Sebastiano De Zorzi. A curious anecdote: it was Monsignor Sebastiano Zorzi, requested by Toniolo, who interposed his good offices so that Giuseppe Toniolo could frequent the Schiratti house.
How different our times are from those in which our venerable, blessed neighbor lived! ».