Italian Australians, the church, war and fascism in Melbourne, 1919-1945

Cappello, Anthony (1999) Italian Australians, the church, war and fascism in Melbourne, 1919-1945. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


There is no doubt that the Irish have played a major part in Australian Catholic Church history, but I question the notion that they have been the only contributor to the Australian Catholic Church in Australia. Numerous Australian Catholic Church histories fail to acknowledge the Italian contribution at all. It comes as no surprise that none of the Australian Catholic Church histories(written to date) do not mention the Italian Jesuit fathers who were chaplains to the Italians in Melbourne, Vincenzo de Francesco (1921-1934) and Ugo (Hugh) Modotti (1938-1945) and their influence in the life of the Catholic Church during 1919 to 1945. Those who do write about the Italian contribution begin their assessment after the Second World War and regard the Italians as latecomers. Yet, the evidence illustrates that there is sufficient data to demonstrate that there was an Itahan contribution before the end of the Second World War. In fact, there is considerable evidence revealed in this thesis that the Italian contribution was not only important but also crucial in changing the nature of the Australian church from its predominately Irish beginnings.I n the years 1919-1945 there was a world war, there were fascists, communists and movements such as the Campion Society and Catholic Action, internments, major Episcopal changes, escaped POWs and American secret agents, and associated in all of these areas was the Italian community, particularly its chaplains. This thesis argues that the Italian contribution to Australian Catholic history during the years 1919- 1945 cannot remain merely a footnote or a paragraph.

Additional Information

Master of Arts

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2003 Language Studies
Keywords Ugo Modotti, Australian Catholic Church, Melbourne, Italians, Australia, Hugh Modotti, Church history, Vincenzo de Francesco, fascism, Campion Society, Catholic Action
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