Luigi Giovanni Giussani was born on October 15, 1922, in Desio, a small town in Brianza, north of Milan, Italy.
Giussani was ordained a priest on May 26, 1945. During high school, he fell in love with the study of literature, especially the works of the poet Giacomo Leopardi, because his “questions seemed to overshadow all others for me.”
After his priestly ordination, his superiors decided the young Giussani should stay at the seminary to continue his studies and begin teaching. In 1954, he completed his doctorate in theology, with his thesis on Man’s Christian Sense According to Reinhold Niebuhr.
Giussani received permission from his superiors to teach religion in a public high school. Beginning in 1954, he taught at Liceo Berchet, a high school in Milan with a focus on the classics, where he remained until 1967. His presence in the school gave new energy to Gioventù Studentesca (GS or “Student Youth”) and gave it the contours of a true movement. So began the history of Communion and Liberation.
Beginning with the 1964-1965 school year, Fr. Giussani taught at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, a position that he would hold until 1990. An organic synthesis of what he taught was published in Italian between 1986 and 1992 in the form of the trilogy: The Religious Sense, At the Origin of the Christian Claim, and Why the Church?
Among his other books are The Risk of Education and The Journey to Truth is an Experience.
He also edited a series entitled Books of the Christian Spirit and provided the liner notes for a collection of classical music albums, “Spirto Gentil,” produced with Deutsche Grammophon.
On February 22, 2005, he died in his home in Milan. The funeral Mass was celebrated in the Duomo in Milan by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, serving as the personal representative of Pope St. John Paul II. He was buried in the Monumentale Cemetery in Milan. His tomb has become the destination for a steady stream of pilgrimages from Italy and around the world.
At the end of the Mass celebrated at the Duomo in Milan on the seventh anniversary of Fr. Giussani’s death, on February 22, 2012, Fr. Julian Carrón, Giussani’s successor as leader of Communion and Liberation, announced that he had submitted the request to open the cause for canonization of the priest from Desio. The petition was accepted by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan.