NAPLES BETWEEN TWO CENTURIES – SECULAR SACREDNESS

The Piedigrotta feast in 1860 was marked by the arrival in Naples of Garibaldi and the refugees from 1848, among whom was Matilde Serao.

matilde serao

Matilde Serao in spite of the   lack of early  education during childhood,   was able to graduate and work in the State telegraph company. Being lead to the journalist career by her father, she was the first journalist woman in Italy.

In 1885 she founded  the “Corriere di Roma” ( Rome Courier) and after its failure she came to Naples  to lead the “Naples Courier” and start in 1892  the newspaper  “Il Mattino”. In 1904 she left the  Mattino’s editorial staff, divorced  from her husband and founded a new daily newspaper “Il Giorno” where she worked till the end of her life.

Another protagonist of the Naples scene was Benedetto Croce.

benedetto croce

He was born in Pescasseroli in 1866, he was registered in the College founded by Father Ludovico from Casoria. In that college he happened to meet Francesco De Sanctis.

Benedetto Croce carried out his studies in the Institute Genovesi. In 1883, during the summer holidays in Ischia, his parents and brothers died because of an accident, but one brother  who was in a college. Healed from the  body wounds but  deeply marked in his soul B. Croce and his brother  went to Rome where he started his university law  studies never accomplished.  In 1886 he came back to Naples. In 1890 he was appointed administrator of public elementary and middle grade  schools.

In 1903 he founded the magazine “La Critica (Critics) and later he published “La letteratura della Nuova Italia” (Literature in the New Italy). In 1910, already a famous literary man,  he was named State Senator.  On the eve of the first World War Croce belonged to  the interventionists. On his magazine he started a fight for the defense of European culture.

In 1920 Giolitti chose  Benedetto Croce as Minister of Public Education. At the end of his Minister experience he continued his studies, just  before the 1922 crisis and the arrival of fascism.

In 1925  he wrote  the   manifesto of   anti-fascist intellectuals. Croce took part in all the Senator chamber  sittings to oppose laws  menacing freedom. The political engagement of B. Croce ended by the vote against the “Concordato” (Concordat with the Vatican City), but he  indirectly continued his action on  the newspaper  “La Critica”.

In 1947 in his house  the “Italian Institute for History Studies” was opened, in 1948 he became  director of the Suor Orsola Benincasa Institute. He died in 1952.

The period between the 19th and 20th century was called the period “of new religion”, when the word  “secular/laic” is no longer synonymous with anti-Christian.

A man  well expressing the meaning of secular sacredness is Giuseppe Moscati.

San Giuseppe Moscati

He was born in Benevento in 1880.  Due to his father’s  job necessities Giuseppe Moscati first moved to Ancona and than to Naples. Family Moscati was bound to the Volpicellis  and the young Giuseppe received his first communion in the  Holy Heart Maidservants’ church. He finished primary school and graduated at the Classic Lyceum “V. Emanuele”.

In 1897 he joined the  University Faculty of medicine and thereafter he lost his father due to a cerebral haemorrhage. In 1903 he  graduated and started his job as medical doctor at the Hospital  “Gli incurabili”  (the incurable). In 1914 he lost his mother because of diabetes. In 1922 G. Moscati was the first one in Naples to promote the use of insulin.

In 1917 he refused the chair of chemistry at Naples University, and in 1919 he became primary physician   at the “Incurabili” Hospital. Giuseppe Moscati dedicated his whole life to the care for the sick, mainly the poorer ones. He died in 1927 in his cabinet.

He was sanctified in 1987 by Pope John  Paul II, the year while  vocation  and  secular missionaries in the church and in the world were widely discussed. Moscati was always coherent with his ideas, he attended  the Holy Mass in  secular  dressing, with his patients he talked about religion, even living during a period when anticlericalism and anti-christianism were at the top, he never hid his faith.

In 1927 he attended a medical Convention held by Leonardo Bianchi famous for his anticlericalism – to the point  of leading a conference against Christ. At the end of the conference L. Bianchi   suddenly was taken ill and being unable to talk he  tried to catch the gaze of Moscati who told him consoling words and let him give the holy sacraments  by a priest.

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