Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Giacomo Margotti

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A Catholic publicist, born 11 May, 1823; died 6 May, 1887. He was a native of San Remo, where his father was president of the Chamber of Commerce, and there he studied the classics and philosophy, after which he entered the seminary of Ventimiglia; in 1845, he obtained the doctorate at the University of Genoa and was received into the Royal Academy of Superga, where he remained until 1849. Already in 1848, in company with Mgr. Moreno, Bishop of Ivrea, Professor Audisio, and the Marquis Birago, he had established the daily paper "L'Armonia", which soon had other distinguished contributors; among them, Rosmini and Marquis Gustavo, brother of Cavour; the managing editor, however, and the soul of the publication, was Margotti, whose writings combined soundness of philosophy and of theological doctrine with rare purity of style, while his ready ability for reply, and the brilliancy of his polemics made him feared by the sects and by the Sardinian government, which at that moment, in furtherance of its policy of territorial expansion, had entered upon a course of legislation that was hostile to the Church and at variance with the wishes of a great majority of the people. As a result, Margotti underwent frequent trials, and was often subjected to fines and to other impositions; and in 1859, Cavour suppressed the "L'Armonia". This publication was replaced by "Il Piemonte"; but when the period of agitation passed, "L'Armonia" reappeared; its name was changed, however, conformably with the wish of Pius IX, on the twenty-fifth of December, 1863, after which date it was called "L'Unità Cattolica". On the other hand, Margotti continued to be the object of attacks and of plots, and once, at Turin, an attempt was made upon his life; but nothing intimidated him; while his journalistic proficiency was eulogized by the "British Review" in its issue for August, 1865.

For a long time, the opinion of Margotti on questions of Catholic interest had the force of oracle for Italian Catholics; and if he was not the author of the axiom "nè eletti, nè elettori" - "be neither elector nor elected" - he, more effectually than any one else, presented its truth to the Catholics, to convince them that, in the face of revolutionary triumphs, it was idle to hope for a successful reaction through parliament; in which he was in accordance with the views of Pius IX, who, in 1868, said to Margotti that Catholics should not go to the ballot-box: "Non si vada alle urne". He was foreign to all sense of personal aggrandizement; Pius IX, referring to this fact, once said "Margotti never asked me for anything: he was right for any dignity that I could have conferred upon him wouid have been inferior to his merits". By his will Margotti left nearly 100,000 lire for charitable purposes. Besides the articles in "L'Unità", Margotti wrote "Il processo di Nepomuceno Nuytz, prof. di Diritto Canonico nella Università di Torino" (1851); "Considerazioni sulla separazione dello Stato dalla Chiesa in Piemonte" (1855); "Le vittorie della Chiesa nei primi anni del Pontificato di Pio IX (1857); "Memorie per la storia dei nostri tempi" (1863, 6 vols.); "Le consolazioni del S. P. Pio IX" (1863); "Pio IX e il suo episcopato nelle diocesi di Spoleto e d'Imola" (1877).

Civiltà Cattolica (Rome), ser. XIII, vol. VI, p.485; vol. VII, p.1 sq.; DELLA CASA, I Nostri (Treviso, 1903), 31 sq.

U. BENIGNI