The Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum of Rome celebrated its 50th anniversary this week with several events, including an audience with Pope Francis in which he recalled the richness of the school of St. Augustine and of this Augustinian institution
The Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum was founded on February 14, 1969. The Congregation for Catholic Education confirmed its birth with a decree on February 17 of the same year. A year later, on May 4, 1970, Pope Paul VI personally attended the solemn inauguration of the Institute. Since then, the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum has been dedicated to the study and research of the Fathers of the Church, particularly St. Augustine, training hundreds of students, including Augustinian Recollects.
The half century of life of the Institute was celebrated with a solemn Eucharist on February 12 in the largest auditorium of the Patristicum, which was presided by the Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine, Alejandro Moral, who was accompanied by the current Director of the Institute, Guiseppe Caruso, and Cardinal Agustino Prosper Grech, founder of the Institute and its first director. At the Mass not only the lay professors of the Institute participated, but also the professors and religious students and priests, in such a way that 130 priests joined the main celebrants.
However, one of the main events of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Institute was the private audience with Pope Francisco on Saturday, February 16. At 12.00 noon, Pope Francis made his entrance into the Clementina room, amid the applause and emotion of all present. Once Pope Francis had sat at his headquarters, the Prior General of the Order of St. Augustine, Alejandro del Moral took the floor to thank Pope Francis for the kindness of having received the Patristicum teachers and students on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Institute.
Later the same Pope addressed the assembly to thank the work done by the Patristic Institute, emphasizing the importance of the work done by their teachers, and for this he made mention, leaving the text he had in his hands, Maria Grazia Mara, who was a Patristicum teacher for many years, and who now at 95 years old continues to write and catechize the children of her parish. Finally, Pope Francis gave everyone his Apostolic Blessing, and Patristicum teachers and students who were present in the Clementina room had the opportunity to personally greet Pope Francis. Three Augustinian Recollects were present at this meeting with Pope Francis: Enrique A. Eguiarte, professor of the Patristicum, and Bruno d’Andrea and John Eder Delgado, students of the same.
Speech by Pope Francis to the teachers and students of the Patristic Institute Agustinianum
Dear brothers and sisters:
I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Patristic Institute Augustinianum. I thank Father Alejandro Moral Antón, Prior General of the Augustinians and general moderator of the Institute; I greet the president, Father Giuseppe Caruso, the counselors, the collaborators, the members of the faculty, the administrators and the students. In a special way, I greet one of your Augustinian brothers who was one of the founders of the Institute, Cardinal Prospero Grech. And I would also like to greet so many professors emeritus, who are not here, but who have left their mark on the Institute. And I remember the teacher Maria Grazia Mara who taught so many things and who, at the age of 95, continues to publish and give catechesis to children. Also Cardinal Grech: his homilies are very simple … The wise, when they reach that age, become a great simplicity, which does so much good. Thanks to all the elders, to the teachers who are retired. I am very happy to have the opportunity to share this anniversary with you.
This means, first of all, to thank God for all that the Augustinianum has been and has done for half a century. But today’s circumstance invites us to return with a fond memory to the origins -which Father Prior has reminded us recently- when, in the context of the centennial tradition of the Order of Saint Augustine, the Studium dedicated to the sacred sciences, especially the Fathers of the Church, St. Augustine and his legacy.
As the repository of the great Augustinian “school”, characterized by the search for wisdom, the Augustinianum was founded to help preserve and transmit the richness of the Catholic tradition, especially the tradition of the Fathers. This contribution is essential for the Church. It has always been so, but especially in our time, as Saint Paul VI affirmed in the inauguration speech of the Institute: “The return to the Fathers of the Church,” he said, “is part of that going back to the origins of Christianity, without which it would not be possible to carry out the biblical renewal, the liturgical reform and the new theological research desired by Vatican II »(May 4, 1970). And St. John Paul II, visiting the Institute in 1982, confirmed this premise by saying, among other things, that “to put oneself in the school of the Fathers means to learn to know Christ better and to know man better” and that “this knowledge [helps ] to the Church to a large extent in [her] mission »(May 7, 1982).
Therefore, I encourage you to be true to your roots and to your task; to persevere in the commitment to communicate the intellectual, spiritual and moral values that prepare your students to participate with wisdom and responsibility in the life of the Church and in the debates about the crucial challenges of our time. This service is closely linked to evangelization and helps to promote the growth of the human family towards its definitive fullness in God (cf. Const. Ap. Veritatis gaudium, 1).
The recent Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium opens with these words: «The joy of truth -Veritatis gaudium- expresses the vehement desire that leaves the heart of man restless until he finds, inhabits and shares with all the Light of God» (n 1 .). The echo of St. Augustine is evident here (Conf, X, 23:33; I, 1,1). In fact, he knew and expressed in the highest degree the restlessness of the human heart until he finds rest in God, who in Jesus Christ reveals to us the deepest truth about our lives and about our ultimate destiny.
In conclusion, I would like to share another affirmation of St. Augustine taken from De doctrina cristiana: “Those who have to say what they received from others, also pray before receiving it from those who receive it, so that they may be given what they want. they wish to receive. And once received, pray so that they themselves pronounce it as appropriate and those who say it will take it “(IV, 30, 63).
Dear brothers and sisters, as you celebrate this anniversary, be assured of my prayers. I also urge you to pray for each other – this is important in an institution, it is necessary – for the Lord to sustain you in your daily effort of research, teaching and study. With affection I entrust you, as well as the entire Order of Saint Augustine, the community of the Institute and your loved ones to the intercession of Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, and from my heart I impart to all the blessing. And, please, do not forget to pray for me.