Il Parroco, the Italian translation of Parish Priest, the major biography of the Order’s founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, was released by Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV) at an event in Rome on Wednesday, June 25. The book was originally published in English in 2006 by acclaimed presidential historian Douglas Brinkley of Rice University and his co-author, historian Julie Fenster.

LEV launched the Italian edition at Rome’s Patristic Institute Augustinianum (Via Paolo VI, 25). The event featured brief presentations by Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson; Professor Kevin Coyne of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, author of a forthcoming history of the Knights of Columbus; and LEV Director Rev. Giuseppe Costa, S.D.B.

The book chronicles the life of the founder of what has become the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. Founded in the basement of St. Mary’s parish in New Haven in 1882, the Knights of Columbus today has more than 1.8 million members organized in 15,000 councils throughout North and Central America, the Philippines, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. With charity as their first principle, Knights donated more than $170 million and more than 70.5 million hours to charitable causes last year alone.

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, to Irish immigrant parents just a few years before the Civil War, Father McGivney grew up at a time when millions of Catholic immigrants — and their children — were struggling to overcome poverty and anti-Catholic prejudice.

Michael McGivney knew well the tenuous realities of life in the immigrant community. He worked in a spoon factory as a youth before entering the seminary. While studying for the priesthood, his father died suddenly, and Michael was only able to continue his seminary studies thanks to the financial support of the bishop of Hartford. Later, as a young parish priest, he observed how throughout the immigrant community, families could be split apart and devastated by the untimely death of a breadwinner. The tragedies he witnessed in his own life and his experiences as a priest had a deep effect on him and led him to found the Knights of Columbus.

“At a time when Catholics in general and Catholic immigrants in particular lived on the margins of society in the United States, Father McGivney saw the opportunity to bring the men of his parish together to strengthen their faith, to reach out in charity to those in need, and to protect the future of their families,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “His work anticipated in many ways the coalescence of the Church’s social teaching beginning with Rerum Novarum, the emphasis on the Catholic laity in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the pontificate of St. John Paul II, the emphasis on charity in the encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI, and the charitable witness and promotion of the Catholic understanding of fraternity by Pope Francis. Father McGivney’s vision has touched millions of lives, while remaining relevant and inspiring today. This edition of the book on his life will now provide an excellent introduction to his life and legacy for Italian readers.”

Father McGivney chose Christopher Columbus as the organization’s namesake because Columbus was one of the few Catholics celebrated as a hero of American history by 19th century Protestants in the United States.

Showing the range of Father McGivney’s pastoral actions, from ministering to prisoners, to confronting head-on the various issues facing his parishioners, to aiding widows and orphans, the book tells the story of a parish priest who in his short life distinguished himself by his tireless efforts on behalf of his flock and who was fully committed to helping those on the margins. In 2008, Father McGivney was declared “Venerable,” a significant step on the road to sainthood. His cause for beatification is under consideration at the Vatican.

More information on Father McGivney is available at

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