Blessed Teresio Olivelli

Blessed Teresio Olivelli, March 1942Also known as

  • Agostino Gracchi (alias used when in the Italian Resistance)



Son of Domenico Olivelli and Clelia Invernizzi, Teresio grew up in a very religious family. His maternal uncle, Father Rocco Invernizzi, was the boy’s spiritual teacher and director. His family moved to Pavia, Italy in 1926. Studied at Ghislieri College and then in 1934 at the law school at the University of Pavia, graduating there with honors in 1938. Member of Catholic Action and a Fascist student group. Professor of administrative law at the University of Turin, Italy; there he began a personal ministry of caring for the poor and orphaned. He wrote a number of articles on the law, social conditions and current events, and won an oratory competition in Trieste, Italy with a thesis on human dignities for all people, regardless of race.

He volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Studied in Berlin, Germany from 1939 to 1941, and spoke fluent German. Volunteered to fight on the Russian front in 1941, but was injured by frostbite. His experiences in war turned him against Fascism, and he refused to swear allegiance to the Italian Social Republic government in 1943. For this, he was deported to Innsbruck, Austria on 9 September 1943, but managed to return to Milan, Italy on 20 October 1943. There he founded an underground newspaper that promoted Christianity and Christian alteratives to Facism. Due to acts like the deportation of Jews, Teresio gave up all thoughts of reconciliation with Facism, and began fighting in the Italian Resistance. Arrested on 27 April 1944 in Milan, he was imprisoned in a series of prisons, and routinely tortured by the Nazis, he was known for sharing his meagre rations with other prisoners, and treating their injuries. At one point he was imprisoned with and befriended Blessed Odoardo Focherini. Beaten to death for trying to defend a Ukranian prisoner. Posthumously awarded the Medal of Military Valor.






He has borne witness to Christ through the love of the weak, and he is united with the long rank of the martyrs of the last century. May his heroic sacrifice be the seed of hope and fraternity, especially for young people. Pope Francis

To speak of Teresio Olivelli is to speak of a young enthusiast of his faith and a lover of his country. During the war on the Russian front or in the concentration camps, the purity of his simple faith, convinced, touched, encouraged, supported, consoled, comforted. The soldiers found a warm welcome and religious comfort in Teresio. He loved God, he loved the Church, he loved the Pope, he loved others with this evangelical charity taught by Jesus. Charity was the fabric of his life. Cardinal Angelo Amato

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Teresio Olivelli“. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 July 2021. Web. 25 October 2021. <>