Layman, academic and teacher. Born in Milan in 1859, Contardo Ferrini was the son of a teacher. He first studied law, achieving a doctorate. He then won a scholarship and went on to study Roman-Byzantine law in Berlin.
He taught in various schools of higher education until he joined the faculty of the University of Pavia, where he earned a reputation for being an outstanding authority on Roman law.
Contardo was learned about the faith he lived and loved. He said: "Our life, must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity."
Among his many accomplishments, Contardo became fluent in twelve languages, among them the ancient Biblical languages in which he was able to read the Scriptures.
His speeches and papers show a great understanding of the relationship between faith and science. He attended daily Mass and became a lay Franciscan, faithfully observing the Third Order rule of life. He also served through membership in the Society of St Vincent de Paul.
In 1900 Ferrini developed a heart lesion. In the autumn of 1902, in order to rest, he went to his country home in the village of Suna, Novara, (now part of the commune of Verbania, Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola), on the shores of Lake Maggiore. While there, he became ill with typhus. He died at the age of 43 on 17 October 1902. After his death, his fellow professors wrote letters that praised his holiness and the people of Suna where he lived insisted that he be declared a saint. Pope Pius XII beatified Contardo in 1947.
He is a patron saint of universities.