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CARDINALS
from issue no. 09 - 2008

Portuguese by birth, Roman by adoption



by Gianni Cardinale


José Saraiva Martins with John Paul II during a canonization ceremony. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, in fact, after the act of canonization usually goes to greet the Pope

José Saraiva Martins with John Paul II during a canonization ceremony. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, in fact, after the act of canonization usually goes to greet the Pope

Cardinal José Saraiva Martins was born on 6 January 1932 in Gagos do Jarmela, Portugal, of deeply Christian parents, Antonio Saraiva and Maria da Natividade Martins. He was the sixth of eight children, of whom the last born sister, Sister Cassiana, is a missionary in Angola.
He entered the junior seminary in 1944 and spent his novitiate with the Claretian Fathers in Carvalhos, in 1950 he made his religious profession. In 1954 he settled in Rome (where he has remained till now, forming a strong emotional tie with the Eternal City, his chosen home) and continued his theological studies, gaining a licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1957. He completed his curriculum as student with a degree in Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1958.
In 1957 and 1958 he was Professor of Metaphysics in the upper seminary of the Italian Province of the Claretians, in their house in Marino. He then became Professor of Fundamental Theology and Dogmatic Sacramental Theology at the Claretianum in Rome, affiliated to the Pontifical Lateran University. He held that post from 1959 to 1969, when he was called to teach Sacramental Dogmatics at the Pontifical Urbanian University, where he remained until 1988.
Among his academic appointments were those of Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Urbanian University from 1974 to 1977 and Chairman of the Committee of Deans of Faculties of Theology in Rome from 1974 to 1977; Rector of the Pontifical Urbanian University from 1977 to 1980, 1980 to 1983 and 1986 to 1988, a role that gave him the opportunity to visit many countries in the missionary world; Chairman of the Committee of Rectors of Pontifical Universities and Atheneums in Rome from 1978 to 1983 and again from 1986 to 1988 .
In 1988 John Paul II named him Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, raising him at the time to the dignity of archbishop. On 30 May 1998 the Pope appointed him head of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, a post he held until last 9 July.


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