The Gentleman from Verona
Romano Guardini (1885-1968) was born in Verona in Northern Italy, but while he was very young his family moved to Mainz in Germany, where his father was Italian consul. Except for regular trips to Italy, he lived in Germany during his formative years and wrote in German. For many thinkers, this history might be a mere biographical detail. In Guardini’s case, it has considerable significance.
He was a beloved figure among his students and had an enormous influence on the Catholic Church and European culture in the twentieth century – and beyond. He inspired later thinkers as diverse as von Balthasar, Pieper, Giussani, Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), and Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis). His influence probably owes something to his dual heritage, which combines German academic rigor with a gentler Italian humanism.
Guardini’s greatest and best-known books – The End of the Modern World, The Spirit of the Liturgy, and The Lord –have remained in print and influenced generations. The End of theModern World was particularly prescient. In 1950, Guardini could already write that it was easy to describe the modern age because, “in all crucial respects the modern world has come to an end.”