Father Primo Mazzolari: A Prophet of a Step ‘Too Far’

Biography of the Servant of God Primo Mazzolari, on the Occasion of Pope Francis’ Visit to Bozzolo

Bozzolo, San Pietro / Wikimedia Commons - Massimo Telò, CC BY-SA 3.0

On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, Pope Francis will visit Bozzolo, in Italy. He will pause in prayer at the tomb of Father Primo Mazzolari in the parish church.

For the occasion, we give briefly the most significant phases of the life of the priest, “friend of the poor people,” whom Paul VI described as a prophet of a step “too far.”

According to the writing of Paolo delli Carri for piemontesacro.it, Father Primo Mazzolari was born on January 13, 1890 at Boschetto., in the province of Cremona, to a family of farmers. Very soon he felt and followed the priestly vocation, so much so that, when he was only 10, he entered the Minor Seminary of Cremona, where he remained until his priestly Ordination on August 24, 1912.

The young priest was appointed Vicar of Spinadesco to then be recalled suddenly to the Seminary of Cremona, to teach Letters.

Meanwhile, World War I broke out and Father Primo immediately opposed the German militaristic “mentality.”

The war marked him as a man and as a priest. He understood that peace must be sought at any price, so much as that he said: “If instead of telling us that there are just wars and unjust wars our theologians had taught us that one must not kill for any reason, that slaughter is always futile, and if they had formed us in a clear, precise and daring Christian opposition, instead of having us leave for the front we would have gone down to the squares.”

He left the army in 1920 and was appointed parish priest at Bozzolo, in the province of Mantua. Two years later he was appointed parish priest at Cicognara where, in ten years, he fashioned his style of “priest of the social,” organizing an evening school for farmers and opening a library. In 1932 he was appointed parish priest at Bozzolo.

During this period he wrote numerous works, many of which were blocked by the Holy Office and the Fascist authorities.

His opposition to Fascism, which began even before the march on Rome, was characterized by several episodes: he did not want to sing the Te Deum for the averted attack on Mussolini; he did not want to vote for the sole Fascist list, unleashing the wrath of the squads that exploded three gunshots at his window, but without hitting him.

Father Primo’s opposition was against all, including the clergy that was “tepid” towards the Fascist dictatorial endeavor. In 1924 he wrote: “I feel it my duty to declare myself openly in favor of the oppressed.”

After the fall of Fascism and his adherence to the Resistance, he was forced underground until the liberation.

In 1949, he founded the periodical “Adesso,” which was published until 1951, when he was “suspended” at the request of the Holy See.

Among his many writings, an anonymous work came out in 1955 <entitled> You Don’t Kill. Father Primo’s treatise stresses the need for a peace that must be well rooted in the life of a Christian, and that must give no room to violence. He wrote thus: “Hence the distinctions fall between just and unjust, defensive and preventive, reactionary and revolutionary wars. Every war is fratricide, insult to God and to man.”

Cardinal Montini, the future Paul VI, called him to preach at Milan in 1957. Subsequently, Pope Montini himself, speaking of Father Primo, said: “His was a step too far and we tried to hold him back. So he suffered and so did we. This is the destiny of prophets.”

With the advent of John XXIII, Father Mazzolari’s “modern thought” found fertile ground, making him become the “precursor” of the innovations of Vatican Council II. Cardinal Roncalli and Cardinal Montini received Father Primo, who always left the first place to the Word of God. This was so true of him that, when he became Pope, Roncalli described him as the “trumpet of the Holy Spirit.”

Father Primo Mazzolari, the simple parish priest for the simple, died on April 12, 1959, in the “Saint Camillus” nursing home of Cremona.

In 2015 the opening of his Cause of Beatification was authorized.

Here are some of his works: The Most Beautiful Adventure (1934); The Samaritan (1938); The Estranged (1938); Between the Embankment and the Forest (1938); Time to Believe (1941); Commitment to Christ (1943).

Among his friends were: the Founder of Nomadelfia, Father Zeno Saltini; the poet Father David Maria Turoldo; the Florentine Mayor Giorgio La Pira and the writer Luigi Santucci.

SOURCE: Paolo delli Carri per piemontesacro.it

The page’s link: httop://www.piemontesacro.it/cattolici/biografia_don_primo_mazzolari.htm

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