Agostino Gemelli

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Agostino (Edoardo) Gemelli (born January 18, 1878 in Milan , † July 15, 1959 in Milan) was an Italian doctor and psychologist, he belonged to the Franciscan order and was the founder of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.


The way to the priest

Agostino Gemelli as a field doctor in the First World War (1917)

Edoardo Gemelli was born into a wealthy Milanese family. His father was a freemason . He studied medicine at the University of Pavia and adopted the positivist , socialist and anti-clerical attitudes that prevail among the students there . He was involved in the social and political conflicts that shook Italy after the Hunger Uprising in Milan in 1898 and the massacre ordered by General Fiorenzo Bava Beccaris . Edoardo Gemelli completed his final oral examination with the later Nobel Prize winner Camillo Golgi .

After completing his studies, Gemelli did his military service in the Sant 'Ambrogio hospital in Milan (named after the Milanese bishop and doctor of the church Ambrosius ). In the hospital he came into close contact with the Catholic faith. In 1903 he unexpectedly entered the Franciscan monastery of Rezzato near Brescia and was given the name Fra Agostino. He was ordained a priest there on March 14, 1908 .

Scientific basis

In 1909 Gemelli founded the journal of neo-scholastic philosophy ( Rivista di filosofia neoscolastica ) with like-minded people with missionary intent and in 1914 the cultural newspaper Leben und Denk ( Vita e Pensiero ). In it Gemelli published the article Medioevalismo , in which he argued that only a return to the theocentric and organic conception of the medieval Christian faith could solve the problems of modern civilization. In the years from 1909 to 1912 Gemelli dealt with the miracle healings in Lourdes ; about this he wrote pamphlets and a scientific book. He completed specialist training as a histologist at the Catholic University of Leuven . Then he turned to psychology . He participated in neurophysiological and psychological experiments, for example with Oswald Külpe and Emil Kraepelin in Munich. He developed psychological theories, among other things, for the “psychological assessment and selection of pilots in aircraft”; Similar studies and approaches soon followed in several European countries and in the United States of America .

First World War

During the First World War he did military service as a field doctor and priest. In a laboratory he directed, he dealt with the psychological stress on soldiers . There he put into practice the aptitude tests he had designed for pilots.

After the end of the war he returned to research and worked in various areas of psychology, neurology , experimental psychology , industrial psychology and criminal psychology . He made use of the knowledge gained during the World War.

Founding of the order

Together with Armida Barelli , he founded the female and male branches of the secular institute of the missionaries of the kingship of Christ in 1919 and 1928 .

Rector of the Catholic University

With Filippo Meda , he founded the Istituto di studi superiori Giuseppe Toniolo on April 16, 1919 . This resulted in the project to establish a Catholic university . Education Minister Benedetto Croce granted state approval as early as 1920 . On February 9, 1921, he also received the approval of Pope Benedict XV. On December 7th of the same year, the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart ( Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore ) opened in Milan, initially with two faculties: Philosophy and Social Sciences . Gemelli became its first rector . In 1924 he was elected President of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC), from 1925 to 1951 he was its General Secretary, at times together with Joseph Charles François Hubert Schrijnen (1869–1938), the founding rector of the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen .

Despite his workload as rector and doctor, he continued to write numerous specialist articles and treatises on the Franciscan order. He advocated the active participation of lay people in missions - a concern that was by no means generally approved in the Catholic hierarchy at the time .

His big dream came true only posthumously . Gemelli was a co-initiator of the polyclinic in Rome, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1961 and which had grown into a university clinic by the time it opened in 1964. This university hospital bears his name in his honor: Gemelli Clinic .


In 1937 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina . In the same year he took over the chairmanship of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences , which he held until his death.


Web links

Commons : Agostino Gemelli  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Agostino Gemelli. In: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, April 18, 2005, archived from the original on June 26, 2007 ; Retrieved January 20, 2015 (Italian, biography).