don Lorenzo Felicetti


He was born in Predazzo, he was a parish priest and cooperative member in different places of Trentino, including Vigo Darè, San Lugano, Someda di Moena e Predazzo. He was an intellectual, poet and translator from German. He was described by mons. Dalponte: “an interesting person, encyclopedic scholar, lover of the history of music, poet and translator of German that he knows perfectly

He was active in the cooperative movement of that time, he took part in the congresses of the newborn federal society and he was promotor of the cooperative society, the social bakery and the credit institution. Don Lorenzo writes: ”Already at the beginning of the cooperation in 1890, when don Guetti began to spread this spark that had to ignite such a big outbreak all over Trentino, I also got interested about this economic social movement, and I became an enthusiastic developer” Thanks to the interest of Lorenzo Guetti, the Rural savings and loans fund (Cassa rurale di Prestiti e Risparmi) was established on 25th February 1897in Vigo Rendena.

He was the voice of the confessional tendency, always active in the debate within the cooperative world in Trentino: he noticed in fact the necessary confessional influence that the Bank of S.Vigiulus should have made clear. As a federal councillor, he initially declared himself against the constitution of a central store of cooperatives, defining it an utopist project, too centralising and manageable with difficulty. He justifies his participation in the new consortium project: ”I sincerely confess that until recently I wasn’t likely to make cumulative purchases and my acquaintances of Cooperative Societies know that; now instead, after the last Meeting of Federal Council where vice president dr. Lanzerotti talked at length and with true expertise about the Agricultural Industrial Union...I declare that I am and will be a passionate and fervent advocate of that”. However a few years later he was an active councillor of SAIT, the statute of which he diffused and promoted through multiple conferences on the provincial territory.

The work of outreach and education compared to the cooperative movement always characterised Felicetti’s action: in 1899 together with don Regensburger he made efforts for improving some courses for cooperative members and for a better planning of conferences on the territory, always with the confessional approach that made him stand out. These were his words to the cooperative members concerning the social issue: “be therefore religious without hypocrisy, catholic without human regards; follow the social economic rules given by Leone XIII, the pope of workers, social-catholic of the catholic world; join loyally the ranks of catholic cooperative members and you’ll contribute to the resolution of the intricate social issue”.

Don Felicetti moved to Trento in 1901, taking care of the administration of the diocesan typography and managing the publication of the periodical “Fede e Lavoro”. At the beginning of the century he wrote a lot, also under the pseudonyms of Felice Renzotti and “D’Oltre i Monti”, stimulating an increasing commitment in the company and remembering the catholic roots of such an approach. At the congress of the Federation of cooperative Consortia in 1902 he gave a remarkable speech that retraced the short but already rich history of cooperation in Trentino, beginning from the establishment of the first cooperative of sale and consumption by the will of don Lorenzo Guetti in Santa Croce of Bleggio: “the spark of a big flame that in few years spread all over Trentino in the cooperative world”.

The cooperative idea was born and developed during the first years, nevertheless, according to Felicetti with “narrow minded ideas”, “lacking of the breath of life”, although with good intentions. Felicetti’s speech highlighted: “the confessionalists from Trentino infused life to cooperation, giving to it the democratic- christian influence or rather (let’s say this terrible word!) that catholic spirit that is the only one capable of withstanding the hostile waves that assault the cooperation!! Felicetti recommended thus Emanuele Lanzerotti as the first and vigorous opponent of the end-of-century socialist attacks, mentioning him with don Panizza and don Sartori within the Congress of Mori in 1897 opposed to neutralists.

After remembering the success of the Catholic Bank, in parallel with the failure of the Bank of Saint Vigilius, the speech continued by remembering don Guetti’s death “deep down the confessionalist soul but for external circumstances and opportunities of the moment in neutral field and our enemy, but loyal and not bad tempered” and observing his own panizzardian position: “Well! We were Panizzardi, we are and we will be, not in the sense of people but in the sense of ideas, us not being people’s adorers, although very skilled, but supporters of a principle! People go by, principles remain. This was the ideal to which we devoted our young forces to; this the goal we aimed at: to work for the good of the working people, both agricultural and in factory, without forgetting that not by bread alone is man alive (...) the future was still uncertain though. Damocles’ sword still hung over the head of each party, confessionalist on one side, neutral-liberal-socialist on the other side! The solemn,crucial moment arrived at the time of the Congress of Mori on 27th April 1899. There the field battle took place and it decided the destiny of the Federation without damaging the merit of the cooperative members based on neutralism, nor the well deserving founder don Guetti, every person who judges impartially won’t fail to recognise that after the congress in Mori the cooperation from Trentino rose with the wings of an eagle into space; felt a new aura of life hovering around itself; and soared into the fields hitherto unknown”.

In the first issue of the newspaper “Fede e Lavoro”, published in 1896, the following text well reflects the thought of don Felicetti and other priests who belonged to the confessionalist movement: “As catholics we still want people’s moral and material needs to be taken into account for the people’s fight, so that one cannot harm the other. So in a moral sense we want the people to be assured their religion, church school, family’s christian constitution. In a material sense we want the people to be rightfully assured a position that is the more comfortable as possible, not to be abandoned for a and to be effectively protected in all their needs against misery and hunger, as much as an isolated individual so in their relationship with the family and then to remove the material troubles above mentioned. Lastly, and we say it frankly, we want to be positive and therefore we don’t want to lull the people into chimerical dreams, we don’t want to deceive them with impossible ambitions.

In 1919 he was the promoter and founder of the “Cassa rurale” in Predazzo. Known as “the tireless”, he always kept on with his activity of cooperative member and communicator, interrupting it only during the first world conflict. On his death in 1937 he was remembered for “his passion as a tireless christian cooperative member”.

Further readings:

• F. Giacomoni, R. Tommasi, 100 anni di SAIT. Una storia del Trentino. Le radici della cooperazione di consumo trentina: 100 personaggi per 100 anni SAIT, 1999, pp 145-152

• Walter Facchinelli, Storie di cooperazione e credito nel centenario della Cassa rurale di Javrè, Antolini Centro Stampa, 1997, pp. 173-175

• Giuseppe Fusi, Don Lorenzo Felicetti. Uno spadaccino della penna, Trento, Cassa Rurale Alta Val di Fiemme, 2001