Tomas Cardinal Spidlik S.J.
The Consulate of the Czech Republic in Malta mourns Tomas Cardinal Spidlik S.J.
Padre Spidlik as he was commonly known in Rome, was born in Boslovice in Moravia ex-Czechoslovakia on the 17th December 1919.
As a youngster he experienced two dictatorships: the Nazi occupation of his homeland and then the Communist totalitarian regime. During World War II he entered the Society of Jesus (The Jesuit Order) and in 1942 he took the religious vows. After finishing his philosophical and theological studies in Maastricht, Holland, since he could not remain in his homeland due to the Communist persecution, Fr Spidlik joined the Vatican Radio and also worked at the Pontifical Institute and the Gregorian University there. From afar he suffered the experiences his country was going through during those years of oppression and total lack of religious freedom and many a time he was the only authorative Vatican voice to be heard from behind the iron curtain.
For over thirty years he was Spiritual Director of the Pontifical Nepomuceno Seminary in Rome and in 2003 he was made Cardinal by the late Pope John Paul II to whom, on various occasions he led Spiritual Exercises and also delivered the last reflections to the College of Cardinals before they entered the Conclave to elect the new Pope five years ago, following the demise of Pope John Paul II.
However, his many duties did not stop him from being a man of study, in fact Spidlik was known as one of the greatest experts in the spirituality of Eastern Christianity. He was a prolific author and was equally acknowledged in the academic and international fields. Chosen “Man of the Year” in 1990” and “most admired person of the decade” by the American Bibliographical Institute of Raleigh in North Carolina, he was decorated by various governments and especially received the highest honours of the Czech State from former President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel.
The connection between the Consulate of the Consulate of the Czech Republic in Malta and Cardinal Spidlik were established when he addressed Honorary Consuls of Italy and Malta at one of their annual meetings held at the Czech Embassy in Rome. Following these encounters Cardinal Spdlik was invited to Malta when he presided over the ceremony of the handing over of the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague to the Maltase Association of the Order of Malta (MASMOM) on the 23rd October 2006. Cardinal Spidlik officiated during the Pontifical High Mass in the splendour of St John’s Co-Cathedral which was attended by the highest Maltese dignitaries. During his stay in Malta he also visited The President of Malta Dr Edward Fenech Adami, Casa Lanfreducci, the Headquarters of MASOM and also celebrated Mass at the Marian Sanctuary in Mellieha. He visited the Jesuit Community in Naxxar before leaving Malta.
Padre Spidlik passed away in the evening of the 16th April 2010, on the eve of Pope Benedict’s historical visit to our Islands. His funeral was held at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where Mass was officiated by the Dean of the College of Cardinal Angelo Sodano whilst Pope Benedict XVI himself celebrated the rites of Commendation.
According to his will, he now rests in his homeland. His last words where “I have looked for the face of Jesus during all my whole life and now I am happy and at peace because I am about to see it” – a wonderful and profound thought from a great CZECH.
May he rest in peace.
Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic
Cardinal Spidlik meets President of Malta Dr EDward Fenech Adami during his visit to Malta