Schuster, Alfredo Ildefonso, Bl.
SCHUSTER, ALFREDO ILDEFONSO, BL.
Cardinal archbishop of Milan, Cassinese Benedictine, liturgist; b. Jan. 18, 1880, Rome, Italy; d. Aug. 30, 1954, at Venegono Seminary near Milan, Italy.
Although his father, Johannes (d. 1888), a tailor in Rome, was born in Bavaria, and his pious mother, Anna Maria (Tutzer), came from Bolzano in the Austrian South Tyrol, Alfredo Ludovico Schuster grew up a thorough Roman. He was accepted as a Benedictine monk by the Roman Abbey of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls at the age of 11 in 1891, and given the name Ildefonso; he made his monastic profession on Nov. 13, 1899. After priestly studies at Sant'Anselmo, Rome, he was ordained on March 19, 1904. He then developed into a model religious, thanks in large measure to the counsel of his saintly confrère (Bl.) Placido riccardi, O.S.B. Schuster served his abbey as master of novices (1904–16) and as prior (1916–18). From 1914 to 1929 he was procurator-general of the Benedictine Cassinese Congregation. On April 6, 1918, he was elected abbot-ordinary of the abbey nullius of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls.
Recognizing his talents, the popes gave him various assignments, including consultorships on the Congregation of Rites (Liturgy, Causes of Saints) and the Congregation for the Oriental Church. Additionally, he was censor of the Academy of Sacred Liturgy, president of the Commission for Sacred Art and Apostolic Visitator for Italian seminaries. Pius XI named him archbishop of Milan on June 26, 1929, created him cardinal priest of SS. Silvestroe Martino ai Monti on July 15, 1929, and personally consecrated him on July 21, 1929. The frail ascetic, with a spirit worthy of a successor of St. Charles Borromeo and St. Ambrose, embarked upon a tireless episcopal career notable for both its liturgical emphasis and its contemporary pastoral awareness. He emphasized catechetics and promoted the role of the laity in parishes and in Catholic Action. During the German military occupation of Lombardy (1943–45), the cardinal gave his flock strong and provident guidance, and the advice to surrender that he gave to the German commandant in 1945 had a decisive influence.
From 1938 on Schuster had stood firm against the racist views and other "Germanizations" of Italian Fascism. Prior to that, however, he had shown public benevolence toward the Fascist regime, to the particular chagrin of many Catholics in other lands. Whether rightly or wrongly—and he was content to let history judge—he had chosen this course for pastoral, not political, reasons. He also interpreted strictly the pledge of loyalty that he, before his consecration, had made to the king, pursuant to art. 20 of the Lateran Concordat of 1929. He was the first Italian prelate to be affected by that rule. Had he not maintained his punctilious personal concern for Mussolini, he might never have had that last interview of April 25, 1945, at which he urged the dictator to make peace with God and man. Unfortunately, Mussolini spurned the admonition, to his own quick disaster.
Although his spirituality is best characterized by his intense prayer life; his opposition to racism was simply a manifestation of his egalitarian spirit: He believed that the goal of all Christians is holiness. He worked toward this ideal by seeking justice during and after World War II and founding the Institute of Ambrosian Chant and Sacred Music to inspire the faithful through beautiful liturgy. Schuster also won great esteem as a liturgical and monastic historian. During his lifetime he wrote many scholarly articles and several books. Among the books were Storia di San Benedettoe dei suoi tempi (Viboldone 1943), which was translated into English as St. Benedict and His Times (St. Louis 1951), and the classic Liber Sacramentorum (9 v. Turin 1919–29). The latter, a most influential work, has been translated into several languages [Eng. ed., The Sacramentary: Historical and Liturgical Notes on the Roman Missal (5 v. New York 1925–31)].
Having tended his flock through nine turbulent postwar years, Schuster died in 1954 with a reputation for high sanctity. He was entombed in the metropolitan cathedral of Milan. The diocesan process for his canonization was initiated in 1957 by his successor, Giovanni Battista Montini, who became Pope Paul VI. A miracle attributed to his intercession was approved on July 11, 1995.
During Schuster's beatification on May 12, 1996, Pope John Paul II observed: "Schuster's pastoral ministry was motivated by the spirit of prayer and contemplation proper to the Benedictine tradition. His monastic spirituality, nourished by daily meditation on Sacred Scripture, thus expanded into active collaboration with the Holy See and into his generous service to the Ambro-sian community, edified and consoled by him until the very end by the regular, devoted celebration of the sacred mysteries and by the example of a clear and consistent life" (Ambrosian Missal, Preface of the Memorial).
Feast: Aug. 30.
See Also: lateran pacts.
Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition. no. 29: 5. L'epistolario card. Schuster-don Calabria, ed. a. majo and l. piovan (Milan 1989). Scritti del Cardinale A. Ildefonso Schuster, ed. g. oggioni (Varese 1959); Gli ultimi tempi di un regime, 2d ed. (Milan 1946). Ildefonso Schuster: Cenni biografici (Viboldone 1958). g. basadonna, Cardinal Schuster. Un monaco vescovo nella dinamica Milano (Milan 1996). d. a. binchy, Church and State in Fascist Italy (New York 1941). a. m. bozzone, "Schuster, A.I.," in a. mercati and a. pelzer, Dizionario ecclesiastico, 3 v. (Turin 1954–58) 3:756. e. cavaterra, Salvate Milano! La mediazione del cardinale Schuster nel 1945 (Milan 1995). g. judica cordiglia, Il mio Cardinale (Milan 1955); Così sorrideva il Cardinale Schuster (Milan 1957). a. m. fortuna, Incontro all'Archivescovado (Florence 1971). a. majo, Gli anni difficili dell'episcopato del card. A. I. Schuster (Milan 1978); Schuster: una vita per Milano (Milan 1994); with g. rumi, Il cardinal Schustere il suo tempo (Milan 1979).
[r. f. mcnamara]