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  • Antonio García y García, O.F.M. (1928–2013)
  • Martin Bertram

Antonio García y García, O.F.M, died on July 8, 2013, after a decade of suffering from an agonizing form of Alzheimer’s disease, in the Franciscan convent of Chipiona (Cadiz). Born in Bretoña (Lugo, Galicia) on January 7, 1928, he joined the Order of St. Francis at the age of eighteen and was ordained a priest in 1952. He received his doctorate in canon law at the Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum in Rome in 1956 and was appointed professor for History of Canon Law at the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca in 1959, where he taught until his retirement.

With the death of Professor García, the profession has lost one of the last founding fathers of modern scholarship in medieval canon law. He belonged to the group of canonists led by Stephan Kuttner. These canonists were associated by friendship and pointed the way to a manuscript-based research of canon law. They were at the same time great scholars and true gentlemen. He was an amazingly prolific writer, with a scholarly output that surprises in quantity as well as in its wide range of content and interest. His oeuvre includes thirty-two books and almost 300 articles (see his bibliography published in Studia Gratiana 28, 1998). The topics of his publications, which appeared in a large variety of Spanish, Portuguese, and international journals, stretch geographically from his own little hometown in Spain to Latin America and chronologically from the sixth to the seventeenth centuries. He critically investigated texts from the canons of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) to the Tractatus de legibus of Francisco Suárez (1612); he analyzed problems of legal history from the fidelity oaths in Visigothic councils to the human rights of the indigenous people of Latin America; and he discussed the history of the European universities as well as that of the colonial conquests by Spain and Portugal. Among the innumerable findings of his research, two farsighted endeavors stand out, assuring that the international community of historians will remember Father García forever with respect and gratitude. First is the monumental Syn-odicon Hispanum, which he conceived, directed, and partly compiled. Progressing at a steady pace since 1981, it has produced eleven volumes to date and covered a large number of Spanish and Portuguese dioceses in a systematic fashion, thus placing the two Iberian countries in a leading position within the international scholarship in synodal texts. The second invaluable accomplishment of Father García results from his tireless and most successful efforts to highlight the treasures of medieval manuscripts in Spain. Fifty years ago, the manuscript holdings of that country were regarded, even by native scholars, as a kind of wonderland—immensely rich, but mysterious and practically inaccessible. If this situation has definitely changed by now, at least as far as medieval legal manuscripts are concerned, this is almost entirely due to Father García, who acted as a very efficient access manager to Spanish libraries, operating on two different fronts. On one side he promoted an impressive series of modern manuscript catalogs, compiled by teams of specialists whom he engaged, inspired, and guided. Thanks to this effort, we have now solid [End Page 193] working tools for the cathedral libraries of Toledo (1970), Cordoba (1976), Sigüenza (1978), and La Seu d’Urgell (2009), to which García added catalogs of foreign collections with a Spanish background such as the Hispanic Society of America in New York (1963) and the Cathedral Library of Messina (1985); furthermore, he contributed to the catalog of the Collegio di Spagna at Bologna (1992) and created the never to be forgotten Iter Hispanicum for the manuscripts of Bartolus of Sassoferrato (1973). Besides this harvest of publications, which will remain as a permanent record of Father García’s farsighted research management, he provided another, more intimate, and very personal service to innumerable people—young and old, students and illustrious professors alike. When they arrived in Spain, he guided them through the wilderness of the library landscape—opening doors, establishing contacts, providing microfilms. He often checked the manuscripts personally when he received a request...


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