Luigi Cerutti

(Venezia 1865-1932)

He was a priest, leader of catholic cooperativism, he founded the first confessional “cassa rurale” in Italy in Gambarare (a village in the Venetian hinterland). The terrible conditions the population, mostly composed of farmers, was experiencing, urged him to act concretely to improve the economic conditions of his people. In an inquiry of the time peasants were described as “brutes, intoxicated by the mephitic air always feverish, with death before their eyes, condemned to die young”.

The reference model was that of Raiffeisen in Germany and the intent was triple:
• economic support to rural population,
• diffusion of catholic values,
• obstacle to the spread of the socialist mindset.

Inspired by the cassa in Gambarare, thirty more were established; together with other expansions and variations of the mutual-solidarity model: consumer cooperative, social dairies, organisations for the collective purchase, first exclusively dedicated to farmers but then expanded to workers too.

Cerutti founded the magazine “La Cooperazione popolare” in 1894 as a connecting and supporting link of various cooperatives ventures. Cerutti was the voice of cooperativism as a “mark of Christianity”: he held several roles in the Cathoilc Opera and Catholic Action and he gave a stimulus to a wide-ranging initiative such as the establishment of St. Marco Bank in 1895.

The numerous brochures and operating manuals written by him are essential to know his way of thinking and his activities:

Della questione sociale rispetto al contadino e le casse rurali di prestito. Memoria per il IX Congresso cattolico di Vicenza, 1891;
Statuto di una cassa rurale cattolica di prestito, Gambarare 1894;
Le Casse rurali cattoliche. Numero unico compilato per il Congresso di Pavia, Treviso 1894;
La Cassa rurale di prestito di Gambarare: relazione statistica, 1894;
Studio sulle casse rurali cattoliche di prestito,1894;
Le Casse rurali cattoliche di depositi e prestiti ossia l'organizzazione cristiana del credito agrario, Perugia 1894;
Manuale pratico per le casse rurali, I, Costituzione, II, Funzionamento, III, Contabilità, Parma 1894;
Le Casse rurali cattoliche dell'alta Italia, Lendinara 1895;
Manuale pratico per le società cooperative di consumo, Parma 1900;
Programma di azione cattolica nel campo economico, Torino 1894;
Morale ed economia, 1897;
Che cosa sia e che cosa voglia il socialismo, Venezia 1898.


Further readings:
• Silvio Tramontin, La figura e l'opera sociale di Luigi Cerutti. Aspetti e momenti del movimento cattolico nel Veneto, Morcelliana, Brescia, 1968.
• Silvio Tramontin, Cerutti Luigi, in Dizionario storico del movimento cattolico in Italia 1860 - 1980, II, I protagonisti, a cura di F. Traniello - G. Campanini, Milano, 1982.
• Silvio Tramontin, Luigi Cerutti, Luigi Luzzatti e le prime case operaie a riscatto assicurativo, in BOLLETTINO DELL'ARCHIVIO PER LA STORIA DEL MOVIMENTO SOCIALE CATTOLICO IN ITALIA - 1996 - 3
• Luigi Trezzi, Cerutti Luigi, in L. Trezzi - M. Gallo (a cura di), Protagonisti e figure della cooperazione cattolica (1893 - 1963), Roma, E.C.R.A., 1986.
• M. De Biasi, Luigi Cerutti 1865-1934, Cooperativa Muranese di consumo ed., 1991
• M. De Biasi, Mons. Luigi Cerutti e la sua Chiesa, Cooperativa Muranese di consumo ed., 2006
• Treccani, CERUTTI, Luigi in "Dizionario Biografico"