Giovanni Minzoni (1885-1923) became parish priest of Argenta, in the province of Ferrara, Italy in February 1910.
As soon as he arrived, he immediately set to work with young people. He created a new recreation center, an after-school club, a library, and a parish theatre.
He was convinced that the Church had to update methods and contents.
“Thinking of our clergy, certainly there is little to be flattered, who knows how to correspond to their current mission. (…) Priests interested only in today and in the table, these, my God, are the alter Christus! Who must renew the society!” the priest wrote.
He took it out on respectability and the gossip of the clergy, but above all, he acted. He did not want priests to be separated from the world or live on a pedestal.
100 Years Since the Martyrdom of Don Minzoni: “Prayer (…) will never fade from my lips for my persecutors”
He experienced the brutality of trench warfare firsthand. Back then in Argenta, he started the cultural club, the parish cinema and revitalized Catholic Action.
Finally, in April 1923, he announced the formation of a scout group.
However, in the meantime, fascist raids were unleashed, with attacks on party and union offices, killings, and Catholic organizations being targeted.
After founding the ASCI department, on the evening of Aug. 23, 1923, two Squadristi beat him on the head while he returned to the rectory.
Shortly before his death, he wrote: “With an open heart, with the prayer that will never fade from my lips for my persecutors, I await the storm, the persecution, perhaps death for the triumph of the cause of Christ.”
His martyrdom has been recognized and the cause for beatification is underway.