Blessed Alfredo Cardinal Schuster, O.S.B.

(18 January 1880 – 30 August 1954)

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Ordination: 19 March 1904
by Pietro Respighi

Consecration: 21 July 1929
by Pope Pius XI

Created Cardinal: 15 July 1929
by Pope Pius XI

Rank: Cardinal-Priest

Feast day: 30 August

Beatified: 12 May 1996
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope John Paul II

His Life

Alfredo Ludovico Schuster was born in 1880 in the Ospedale Santissimo Salvatore in Rome to Johann Schuster (a Bavarian tailor and double widower) and Maria Anna Tutzer (who hailed from Bolzano). Johann was three decades older than Tutzer. His sister Giulia entered the Vincentians as a nun. He also had three half-siblings from his father's second marriage. Schuster was baptized on 20 January as "Alfredo Ludovico Luigi". In his childhood he was kidnappedfor a brief period but the kidnapper was arrested.

Schuster received his Confirmation on 2 April 1887 from Monsignor Giulio Lenti and made his First Communion on Pentecost 1890 in the Santa Anna in Porta Angelica church. His father Johann died on 18 September 1889.

He served as an altar server at the Santa Maria della Pietà in Camposanto dei Teutonici church next to Saint Peter's Basilica. Schuster completed his high school studies (ginnasiali and liceali) at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wallsin November 1891. On 13 November 1898 he joined the Order of Saint Benedict at their novitiate at Saint Paul Outside the Walls when he took the name Ildefonso. He later professed his monastic vows on 13 November 1900. He graduated with a philosophical doctorate on 14 June 1903 and later received a theological doctorate from the Pontifical Atheneum of Saint Anselm in Rome.

Schuster received his ordination as a priest on 19 March 1904 at the patriarchal Lateran Basilica in Rome from Cardinal Pietro Respighi (its archpriest). He returned to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in 1904. His two mentors during his time of education were Father Bonifacio Oslander and Blessed Placido Riccardi.

Abbotship

He became the novice master in 1908 and prior in 1916 before he was elected as the abbot for Saint Paul Outside the Walls on 6 April 1918. He also received the abbatial blessing from Cardinal Basilio Pompili on 14 April there. He served as the Procurator General for the Cassinese Congregation from 1914 to 1929 and also served as the President of the Pontifical Oriental Institute from 1919 to 1922. He visited the seminaries of the northern Lombard region as well as those in the southern regions of Campania and Calabria from 1924 to 1928. Either in November or December 1926 he preached the spiritual exercises to Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (the future Pope John XXIII) at Saint Paul Outside the Walls. In his abbotship he was made a consulter to the Congregation for Rites and the Congregation for Oriental Churches.

Episcopate & Cardinalate

Schuster was selected as the newest Archbishop of Milan on 26 June 1929 to succeed Eugenio Tosi. On the following 13 July he took the oath of allegiance to the Italian state in front of King Vittorio Emmanuele III; he was the first Italian bishop to do this since the new Lateran Concordat required it according to Article 20 of the concordat. Pope Pius XI elevated Schuster to the cardinalate in 1929 as the Cardinal-Priest of Santi Silvestro e Martino ai Monti but later conferred upon him episcopal consecration in the Sistine Chapel. Carlo Cremonesi and Agostino Zampini served as the co-consecrators. In 1933 he was conferred as a bailiff grand cross of honor and devotion to the Order of Malta.

Schuster ordained 1265 priests and consecrated 22 bishops during his tenure as archbishop. He also made five pastoral visits during his episcopate and selected Saint Carlo Borromeo as his model as an archbishop. He emphasized the importance of catechetics and promoted the Catholic Action movement for the faithful. He also believed that the goal of all Christians was holiness.

He served as a papal legate on several occasions. On 15 August 1932 he was appointed as the legate to the celebration of Nostra Signora di Caravaggio; on 21 March 1934 to the millennial commemorations of the Einsiedeln convent 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.

He participated in the papal conclave in 1939 which elected Pope Pius XII on the eve of World War II and was even considered as a papabile candidate for those seeking a more pastoral pope.