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As If God ExistedReligion and Liberty in the History of Italy$
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Maurizio Viroli

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691142357

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691142357.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021



(p.145) 15 Masters
As If God Existed

Maurizio Viroli

, Alberto Nones
Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the Risorgimento's moral and political leaders: Vincenzo Gioberti, Giuseppe Mazzini, Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, and Giuseppe Garibaldi. Albeit in different ways, all of them lived by a religious conception that regarded Italy's liberty as the fundamental principle of life. They were aware that national emancipation required a religious sentiment. Gioberti, the main advocate of the project of national unification under the aegis of the pope, fought against the religion of idleness in the name of the religion of virtue. Mazzini, the most influential apostle of the religion of the fatherland, taught a theory of political emancipation based on the principle that a people can resurrect themselves only by means of virtue and the “religion of truth”—that is, not by means of Machiavellian devices or Jesuitical reticence. Cavour considered Christian religion a support for the construction of secure liberal institutions, but only if religion emancipated itself from the superstition and profound corruption that rendered it a prop for reactionary regimes.

Keywords:   religion, liberty, Risorgimento, Vincenzo Gioberti, Giuseppe Mazzini, Camillo Benso, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy, national unification

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