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  • Los años de seminario de Josemaría Escriva en Zaragoza (1920–1925). El seminario de San Francisco de Paula
  • Johannes Grohe
Los años de seminario de Josemaría Escriva en Zaragoza (1920–1925). El seminario de San Francisco de Paula. By Ramón Herrando Prat de la Riba.[Instituto Histórico Josemaría Escriva—Roma, Monografías.] (Madrid: Ediciones Rialp, S.A. 2002. Pp. 451. Paperback.)

The present work, a dissertation at the theological faculty of the University of Navarre (1998), has a genesis that drags on over twenty-six years. [End Page 543]

After the death of Josemaría Escrivá, in preparation for the then initiated process of beatification and canonization, the author together with other members of Opus Dei took part in the search for and documentation of pertinent material as well as the interviewing of eyewitnesses who could give information on the seminary period of the young Escrivá at Zaragoza (1920–1925). The efforts in this respect between 1975 and 1978 had a twofold result: on the one hand, extensive material or documentation on Escrivá's seminary—the San Francisco de PaulaHouse that in the meantime has ceased to exist—was found in the Biblioteca del Real Seminario de San Carlosof Zaragoza. The documentation originally considered as missing was put back in its time setting and archived in the Archivo Diocesano de Zaragoza. Herrando publishes a part of these sources, of significant importance for the sixty-six-year history of the Seminary, in Apéndice documental(pp. 265–440). Included here is also the Regolamento del Seminarioand a Historia de la Fundación del Seminario. On the other hand, extensive material today lies in Rome in the general archive of the Prelature of Opus Dei, accrued through the interviews of the above-mentioned eyewitnesses. In the Apéndice documentalof the book, some of these are also published (pp. 321–370). These are mostly testimonies of Escrivá's fellow students from his seminary period.

About twenty years later, the author submitted his research in Pamplona as a dissertation. In a methodical and skillful evaluation of the above-mentioned sources together with the consideration of other material culled from church and state archives in Spain and an extensive bibliography, he was able to present an exceptionally graphic picture of the seminary formation in Spain and particularly in the Zaragoza of those times (chapters 2–3, pp. 37–114). His presentation of the style of seminary formation in Zaragoza at the beginning of the past century, in contrast to conventional historical opinions, paints a positive picture. Here, Herrando also petitions for a more careful evaluation of the local and regional sources so as to differentiate what in his opinion constitutes a somewhat stereotyped criticism of the clergy as inadequate from the point of view of human, religious, and academic qualifications.

The initial part of the book, however, is dedicated to the personality of St. Josemaría, firstly, his development as an adolescent up until his decision for the priesthood (chapter 1, pp. 23–34). The main part of the book presents Escrivá's stay in the seminary of San Francisco de Paula(chapters 4–6, pp. 117–244). According to the statements of his fellow seminarians, the young seminarian stood apart for his good manners, love of order, cleanliness, intelligence and for his interest in cultural matters that, given the circumstances, was not to be taken for granted. His intensively lived piety remained mainly inconspicuous in the framework of the seminary life. It is remarkable that at the age of twenty, he was appointed by Cardinal Soldevila, whose trust and esteem he enjoyed, to the post of one of the two superiors of the seminary who, due to the frequent absence of the director, were practically in charge of the day-to-day management of the house. In the exercise of this office, the young cleric revealed remarkable leadership [End Page 544]qualities. His fellow seminarians, all more or less in his age group notwithstanding the decades gone by, still recalled his distinctive sense of justice and the winning manner in which he exercised his office. In the preserved reports on his...


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