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Romano Guardini

Romano Guardini in 1920

Romano Guardini (17 February 1885 in Verona – 1 October 1968 in Munich) was an Italian-born German Catholic priest, author, and academic. He was one of the most important figures in Catholic intellectual life in the 20th century.


  • Life and work 1
  • Reputation and influence 2
  • See also 3
  • Selected bibliography 4
  • Major works available in English 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Life and work

Guardini was born in Verona, Italy in 1885. His family moved to Mainz when he was one year old and he lived in Germany for the rest of his life. After studying chemistry in Tübingen for two semesters, and economics in Munich and Berlin for three, he decided to become a priest. After studying Theology in Freiburg im Breisgau and Tübingen, he was ordained in Mainz in 1910. He briefly worked in a pastoral position before returning to Freiburg to work on his doctorate in Theology under Engelbert Krebs. He received his doctorate in 1915 for a dissertation on Bonaventure. He completed his “Habilitation” in Dogmatic Theology at the University of Bonn in 1922, again with a dissertation on Bonaventure. Throughout this period he also worked as a chaplain to the Catholic youth movement.

In 1923 he was appointed to a chair in Philosophy of Religion at the University of Berlin. In the 1935 essay “Der Heiland” (The Saviour) he criticized Nazi mythologizing of the person of Jesus and emphasized the Jewishness of Jesus. The Nazis forced him to resign from his Berlin position in 1939. From 1943 to 1945 he retired to Mooshausen, where his friend Josef Weiger had been parish priest since 1917.

In 1945 Guardini was appointed professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Tübingen and resumed lecturing on the Philosophy of Religion. In 1948, he became professor at the University of Munich, where he remained until retiring for health reasons in 1962.

Guardini died in Munich on 1 October 1968. He was buried in the priests’ cemetery of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Munich. His estate was left to the Catholic Academy in Bavaria that he had co-founded.

Reputation and influence

Romano Guardini on a German postage stamp.

Guardini's books were often powerful studies of traditional themes in the light of present-day challenges or examinations of current problems as approached from the Christian, and especially Catholic, tradition. He was able to get inside such different worldviews as those of Socrates, Plato, Augustine, Dante, Pascal, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and make sense of them for modern readers.

His first major work, Vom Geist der Liturgie (The Spirit of the Liturgy), published during the [3] Pope Paul VI offered to make him a cardinal in 1965, but he declined.

As a philosopher he founded no “school”, but his intellectual disciples could in some sense be said to include Pope Francis). In the 1980s Pope Francis began work on a doctoral dissertation on Guardini, though the decision to take a doctorate was later abandoned for other reasons. Pope Francis cites Guardini's The End of the Modern World eight times in his 2015 encyclical Laudato si', more often than any other modern thinker who was not pope. The thinkers Hannah Arendt and Iring Fetscher were favourably impressed by his work. He had a strong influence in Central Europe; in Slovenia, for example, an influential group of Christian socialists, among whom Edvard Kocbek, Pino Mlakar, Vekoslav Grmič and Boris Pahor, incorporated Guardini's views in their agenda. Slovak philosopher and theologian Ladislav Hanus was strongly influenced in his works by Guardini, whom he met personally, and promoted his ideas in Slovakia, writing a short monograph.[4] In 1952, Guardini won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

The 1990s saw something of a revival of interest in his works and person. Several of his books were reissued in the original German and in English translation. In 1997 his remains were moved to the Sankt Ludwig Kirche, the University church in Munich, where he had often preached.

Guardini's book The Lord, published in English translation in the late 1940s, remained in print for decades[5] and, according to publisher Henry Regnery, was "one of the most successful books I have ever published."[6] The novelist Flannery O'Connor thought it "very fine" and recommended it to a number of her friends.[7]

See also

Selected bibliography

  • Gottes Werkleute. Briefe ueber Selbstbildung, 1921
  • Der Gegensatz, 1925
  • Grundlegung der Bildungslehre, 1928
  • Das Gute, das Gewissen und die Sammlung, 1929
  • Christliches Bewusstsein, 1935
  • Das Wesen des Christentums, 1937
  • Welt und Person, 1939
  • Der Tod des Sokrates, 1943
  • Die Lebensalter, 1944
  • Freiheit, Gnade, Schicksal, 1948
  • Das Ende der Neuzeit, 1950
  • Sorge um den Menschen, 1962
  • Begegnung und Bildung, (together with O. F. Bollnow), 1956

Major works available in English

  • The End of the Modern World. Sheed & Ward, 1957. More recently in a revised edition by ISI Books, 1998. ISBN 978-1-882926-23-7
  • The Art of Praying: The Principles and Methods of Christian Prayer. Sophia Institute Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-918477-21-7
  • The Lord. Regnery Publishing, 1996. ISBN 978-0-89526-714-6
  • The Essential Guardini: An Anthology, edited by Heinz R. Kuehn. Liturgy Training Publications, 1997. ISBN 978-1-56854-133-4
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy. Crossroad Publishing, 1998. ISBN 978-0-8245-1777-9
  • Living the Drama of Faith. Sophia Institute Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-918477-77-4
  • Learning the Virtues. Sophia Institute Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-918477-64-4
  • The Death of Socrates. Kessinger Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4325-5430-9
  • The Rosary of Our Lady. Sophia Institute Press, 1998.


  1. ^ Robert Anthony Krieg, Romano Guardini: A Precursor of Vatican II. University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-268-01661-6
  2. ^ Bradshaw & Melloh (2007). Foundations in Ritual Studies: A Reader for Students of Christian Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. p. 3.  
  3. ^ a b Guardini, Romano. "Open Letter". 
  4. ^ Hanus, Ladislav. Romano Guardini: Mysliteľ a pedagóg storočia. LÚČ, Bratislava, 1994. ISBN 80-7114-124-0
  5. ^ Still in print as of 2012, with an Introduction by Pope Benedict XVI. ISBN 978-0-89526-714-6
  6. ^ [2] Regnery, Henry S., Memoirs of a Dissident Publisher, Publisher: Regnery Gateway Inc., Lake Bluff, Ill., 1985, online edition accessed September 8, 2007
  7. ^ Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being. Letters, edited by Sally Fitzgerald. Vintage Books, 1980. ISBN 0-394-74259-1
  • This article includes text from the German WorldHeritage.

External links

  • Works by Romano Guardini at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Romano Guardini at Internet Archive
  • Romano Guardini (National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood)
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini
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