Alfredo Schuster was a Benedictine monk and archbishop of Milan during World War II. He was beatified on May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II.
Ildefonso Schuster (born Alfredo Ludovico Schuster) in Rome on January 18, 1880, Italy, the son of Giovanni (Johann) Schuster, a Bavarian tailor and double widower, and Maria Ana Tutzer. Schuster’s sister, Giulia, entered the Order of Sisters of Charity of S. Vincenzo di Paul.
Schuster also had three half-siblings from his father’s second marriage. As a young child Schuster was briefly kidnapped and served as an altar boy at the church of the Teutonic Cemetery, next to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Schuster completed his early studies at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (S. Paolo fuori le mura) in November 1891.
On November 13, 1898 he joined the Order of St. Benedict at the novitiate of the monastery of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, where he took the name Ildefonso and professed on November 13, 1900. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy on June 14, 1903 and then a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Academy of S. Anselmo in Rome.
Schuster was ordained on March 19, 1904 at the patriarchal Lateran Basilica in Rome by Pietro Cardinal Respighi, its archpriest and vicar general of Rome. At the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls he became master of novices in 1908, prior in 1916, and was elected abbot-ordinary of the abbey nullius on April 6, 1918, and also received the abatial blessing of Basilio Cardinal Pamphili on April 14 there.
He was also the Procurator general of the Congregation of Monte Cassino from 1914 to 1929 and President of the Pontifical Oriental Institute from October 7, 1919 to July 4, 1922. He visited the seminaries of Lombardy Campania and Calabria from 1924 to 1928.
Schuster was elected archbishop of Milan on June 26, 1929. On July 13, 1929 he took an oath of loyalty to the Italian state in front of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, the first Italian bishop to do so, as required by the Lateran Treaty.
Schuster was created cardinal-priest by Pope Pius XI on July 15, 1929, receiving the title of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti on July 18, 1929. He was consecrated on July 21, 1929 in the Sistine Chapel by Pius XI personally, assisted by Carlo Cremonesi and Agostino Zampini.
On August 15, 1932, he was made Papal legate to the celebration of Our Lady of Caravaggio, on March 21, 1934 legate to the 10th centennial of Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland, on September 15, 1937 legate to the inauguration of the new facade of the cathedral of Desio, and on August 2, 1951 legate to the National Eucharistic Conference in Assisi.
Schuster participated in the papal conclave, 1939, which elected Pope Pius XII on the eve of World War II.
Schuster was an enthusiastic supporter of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, comparing it favorably to the Crusades and viewing it as a potential source converts. On October 28, 1935, while giving mass in the Duomo di Milano, Schuster asked God to protect Mussolini’s troops as “they open the door of Ethiopia to the Catholic faith and Roman civilisation,” and blessed the banners of the departing troops. The ensuing conflict led to the deaths of around 750,000 Ethiopians, and included the use of chemical weaponry.
On 25 April 1945 he hosted in the archbishop’s palace in Milan a meeting between the member of Italian partisan and Mussolini in order to obtain a truce between the two parts, but Mussolini didn’t accept the instrument of unconditional surrender as request by Marazza and Pertini the partisan delegates.
Schuster died on August 30, 1954 in the Archiepiscopal Seminary Pio XI, Venegono Inferiore near Milan. Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (future Pope John XXIII) celebrated his funeral. He was buried on September 2, 1954 in the metropolitan cathedral of Milan, next to his two immediate predecessors.
Archbishop Giovanni Montini (the future Pope St. Paul VI) succeeded him.
The diocesan process of his cause for sainthood was opened on August 30, 1957 by archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini (future Pope Paul VI) and concluded on October 31, 1963.
After his tomb was opened and his body found to be intact on January 28, 1985. Schuster was beatified on May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II.