Politician and teacher, born in Pozzallo (Ragusa), La Pira was Mayor of Florence, tertiary Dominican and Franciscan, member of the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the kingship of Father Agostino Gemelli, Servant of God for the Catholic Church. Eldest son of a family of humble social conditions.
In 1926 he moved to Florence where he graduated with honors with a thesis on inheritance and became professor of Roman Law at the University of Florence. In 1939 he founded “Principi”, a magazine in Latin where he defended human rights, criticized the fascism and openly condemned the invasion of Poland: the magazine was suppressed by the regime. Persecuted by the police he fled to Rome -he will return to Florence in 1945. In 1946 he was elected to the Constituent Assembly playing a crucial role in the drafting of the fundamental Principles of the Constitution. The current Art. 2 of the Italian Constitution is modeled around his initial proposal and reads: “The Republic recognizes and guarantees the inviolable rights of man, as an individual, and in the social groups where he expresses his personality, and demands the fulfillment of the mandatory duties of political, economic and social solidarity.”
Elected to the Chamber in 1948, La Pira was appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. In 1951 he was elected mayor of Florence. Among the main achievements during his leadership of the city (on and off until 1965) the reconstruction of bridges Alle Grazie, Vespucci and Santa Trinita destroyed by the war, the creation of the satellite district “Isolotto”, the construction of many public housing, the rebuilding of the municipal theater, the repaving of the historic center. He established twin-city programs between Florence, Philadelphia, Kiev, Kyoto, Fez and Reims. He also promoted the International Committee on Space Research and launched the idea of a “European university” to be set up in Florence. In the difficult years of the crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union he managed to arrange, in Florence, the ninth session of the East-West round table on disarmament.
In 1967 La Pira was elected president of the World Federation of United Cities -his slogan was “Unite cities to unite nations.” The political work of La Pira was defined with the expression “the art of peace.” It was strongly oriented towards multilateralism, the parity and the presence of several levels of dialogue to do justice to the complexity of the conflict. In 1986 Pope John Paul II started his process of beatification. Many religious and public constructions have been dedicated to La Pira including the oratory of the cathedral of Caserta, the heliport, the town hall, the Institute of Higher Education, the Tourist Institute and the Institute Marketing and Finance of Pozzallo.