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Note from the Dean on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the Faculty of Theology

The Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Comillas, Francisco Ramírez Fueyo, SJ, writes on the 120th anniversary of the Decree of Pius X on the granting of university status to the Faculty


Francisco Ramírez, SJ, Dean of the Faculties of Theology and Canon Law

29 March 2024

Today, when on this Good Friday we are remembering and adoring the death of our Saviour, at Comillas we have a reason to add to our thanksgiving to God for his goodness. Exactly 120 years ago, on 29 March 1904, Pope St. Pius X, with the decree Praeclaris honoris argumentis, of the Sacred Congregation of Studies, granted the Comillas institution, until then a Pontifical Seminary, university status and rank, by granting it the faculty to confer academic degrees in Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law.

As Fr Miguel Mostaza Rodríguez de Medio SJ wrote in Razón y Fe (Volume XXI, May-August 1908, p. 146-147):

Since the academic year of 1891-1892, when the first rector, Reverend Fr. Tomás Gómez, of saintly memory, inaugurated the Pontifical Seminary, to that of 1903-1904, twelve years had passed, during which the students first admitted and those who entered later for the lower classes, had gone step by step through five courses of Grammar, Humanities and Rhetoric, three of Philosophy and four of Sacred Theology, until the most advanced were about to begin the last period of their studies, the faculty of Canons.

After so many years of experience had proved the literary formation that had been adopted, it was judged opportune to complete the Pontifical Institute, not by creating new faculties, but by elevating the three existing ones by the Brief of foundation to university status, by means of a new apostolic privilege to confer academic degrees in them.

The matter was discussed by the illustrious founder and the Superiors of the College with the Holy See at the beginning of 1904; and, after due diligences and information from His Excellency the Nuncio of Madrid, omnibus mature perpensis, the Sacred Congregation of Studies resolved, in plenary session of 17 March of that year, that the request should be favourably dealt with, acceding to the request.

As this resolution was reported on the 24th of the same month to His Holiness, Our Most Holy Father Pius X, not only deigned to approve and fully ratify the agreement of the Eminent and Most Rev. Cardinals, but added for his part that for the greater splendour of the Seminary of Comillas quod nomine et re Romani Pontificis est (which in name and in reality is that of the Roman Pontiff), as a pledge of singular benevolence towards the most noble founder D. Claudio López y Bru, so benevolent to the founder. Claudio López y Bru, already so worthy of the Catholic cause, and for the encouragement of the students who are trained there in the hope of the Church, decreed that the apostolic privilege requested be granted as a crowning achievement of the Pontifical Institution".(Decret. Praeclaris, infra).

All that remained was to execute what the Pope had prescribed. This was done in the solemn decree Praeclaris honoris argumentis of 29 March 1904, with which the Sacred Congregation of Studies, fulfilling the mandate of the Sovereign Pontiff, canonically erected in the Seminary of San Antonio de Comillas the three faculties of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law, with the same statutes and in the same manner as those established in the Gregorian University in Rome, and with the same apostolic privilege to confer academic degrees in them.

Thus, 120 years ago, our three ecclesiastical faculties, which had already been functioning as a pontifical seminary since 1881, came into being. Since 1904, first in Comillas (Santander), then in Madrid, our Faculties of Theology, Canon Law and Philosophy have always been at the forefront of academic excellence, both in teaching and in research and dissemination, offering during this already long life an example of faithful service to the Church in Spain. May this serve as a reason for thanksgiving, consolation and confidence for the exciting tasks that lie ahead for our faculties. Conscious of the rich heritage that has been entrusted to us, as faculties at the service of the Church, we remember and reaffirm on this anniversary our commitment to academic excellence and service to the Church.

Comillas Pontifical Seminary and University Coat of Arms 1892-1968

Francisco Ramírez Fueyo, SJ, Dean

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