Tomáš Špidlík

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Cardinal Špidlík (right) and Cardinal Vlk (2009)
Signature of Cardinal Špidlík

Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík SJ (born December 17, 1919 in Boskovice , Moravia , Czechoslovakia , † April 16, 2010 in Rome ) was a Czech theologian and patristic .


Tomáš Špidlík studied philosophy at the University of Brno from 1938 . After the university was closed by the National Socialists, he joined the religious order of the Society of Jesus in Benešov in 1939 and took his religious vows as a scholastic on September 24, 1942 after a two-year novitiate period. His theological training was shaped by the war and the post-war period. Špidlík was ordained a priest in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on August 22, 1949 . In 1950 he was able to complete his Jesuit training in Florence and made his perpetual vows as a religious professor. From 1951 he worked for the Czech language department of Radio Vatican and reported in Eastern European languages. After studying at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome , he received his doctorate in theology in 1955 .

Since he was not allowed to return to his homeland by the communist government of Czechoslovakia , Špidlík stayed in Rome. As the successor to Irénée Hausherr , he received the chair for Patristic and Eastern Church Spirituality at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and taught at the Pontifical Gregorian University . In addition, he was spiritual at the Pontifical College of Nepomucenum , the Czech seminary in Rome , for 38 years .

Coat of arms of Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík

On the occasion of the last consistory of Pope John Paul II , Špidlík was accepted into the College of Cardinals on October 21, 2003 as a cardinal deacon with the titled deaconry Sant'Agata dei Goti . Due to his old age at the time of creation as cardinal, Špidlík refrained from receiving the obligatory episcopal ordination for cardinals . At the 2005 conclave , which voted for the election of Pope Benedict XVI. led, he was not eligible to vote because he was 80 years old. However, Špidlík held an opening sermon in the Sistine Chapel for the College of Cardinals at the conclave .

At his own request he was buried in the pilgrimage site of Velehrad .


Tomáš Špidlík was a renowned expert on the Orthodox churches . He was the author of more than two hundred scientific studies and has written a few dozen books dealing particularly with the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches . He is co-founder of the Centro Aletti (Pontificio Istituto Orientale - Centro Studi e Ricerche "Ezio Aletti") in Rome, a center for the study of the tradition of the Christian Orient.

Awards and honors

The American Biographical Institute honored him as "Man of the Year 1990" and "The most admired person of the decade". The Society for Byzantine Studies in St. Petersburg made him an honorary member in 1993. In 1994 he became an honorary citizen of the French city of Troyes .

In 1995 Špidlík was entrusted with the task of leading the traditional fasting retreats for Pope John Paul II and the Roman Curia in the Vatican. In 1998, President Václav Havel awarded him the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk , one of the highest honors in the Czech Republic .

He received honorary doctorates from Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj (1997), Palacký University Olomouc (1997), Charles University Prague (2003) and Sacred Heart University (2006).

The "Cardinal Spidlik Center for Economic Understanding" was founded in 2006 at the US Sacred Heart University.


  • A due polmoni. Dalla memoria spirituale d'Europa , together with P.Ambros, Pubblicazioni del Centro Aletti 24, Rome 1999.
  • Breviario patristico , Turin 1971.
    • Drinking from the Hidden Fountain. A Patristic Breviary. Ancient Wisdom for Today's World, transl. P. Drake, Cistercian Studies Series 148, Kalamazoo 1994.
  • Grégoire de Nazianze. Introduction à l'étude de sa doctrine spirituelle, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 189, Rome 1971.
  • Ignazio di Loyola e la spiritualità orientale. Guida alla lettura degli Esercizi, Rome 1994.
    • Ignace de Loyola et la spiritualité orientale , transl. V. F.Vermorel, Brussels 2006.
  • I grandi mistici russi , Rome 3 1987.
    • Les grands mystiques russes , transl. O.Wallet, Paris 1979.
  • Il cammino dello Spirito , Rome 1995.
  • Il vangelo delle festivities. Riflessioni sul vangelo domenicale e festivo, 3 vols., Rome 2003.
  • Joseph de Volokalamsk . Un chapitre de la spiritualité russe , Orientalia Christiana Analecta 146, PIO, Roma 1956 (doctoral thesis).
  • La doctrine spirituelle de Théophane le Reclus. Le Cœur et l'Esprit, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 172, Rome 1965.
    • Il Cuore e lo Spirito. La dottrina spirituale di Teofane il Recluso, transl. V. M.Viezzoli, Oriente-Occidente 1, Vatican 2004.
  • L'arte di purificare il cuore , Sotto il tiglio 9, Rome 5 2004.
  • La sophiologie de s. Basile , Orientalia Christiana Analecta 162, Rome 1961.
  • La spiritualità dei Padri greci e orientali , together with I. Gargano, Storia della spiritualità 3 / A, Rome 1983.
  • La spiritualità russa , La spiritualità cristiana 16, Rome 1981.
    • Russian spirituality , preface v. E. Jungclaussen, transl. V. GJMaurer, Regensburg 1994, ISBN 3791714104 .
  • La Spiritualité de l'Orient Chrétien , 2 vols. (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 206, 230). PIO, Roma 1978.1988.
  • L'idée russe. Une autre vision de l'homme, Troyes 1994.
    • The Russian idea. Another view of man, trans. P. u. R.Čemus, Würzburg 2002, ISBN 3927894346 .
  • Melania la giovane. La benefattrice (383-440), Donne d'Oriente e d'Occidente 2, Milan 1996.
  • Pregare nel cuore. Iniziazione alla preghiera, Sotto il tiglio 3, Rome 5 2003.
  • Preghiera semplice "del cuore" , Casale Monferrato 1989.
  • Questions monastiques en Orient , together with M.Tenace u. R. Čemus, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 259, Rome 1999.
  • Teologia pastorale a partire dalla bellezza , together with MIRupnik u. M. Campatelli, Rome 2005.
  • Testi mariani del secondo millennio , vol. 2: Autori dell'area russa, secoli XI-XX, Rome 2000.


  • Karel Mácha : Spirit and Knowledge. On the spiritual foundations of Europe. Festschrift for the 65th birthday of Prof. Dr. Tomas Spidlik SJ , Minerva Munich 1985, ISBN 3597103146
  • Pavel Ambros: Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík SJ - starec a teolog nerozdělené církve: kompletní bibliography 1938–2011 , Refugium Olomouc 2012, ISBN 978-80-7412-125-8

Web links

Commons : Tomáš Špidlík  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. "Czech Cardinal Spidlik speaks at the conclave-opening" , ORF , April 18, 2005
  2. Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík died on Radio Praha on April 20, 2010, accessed on April 20, 2010
  3. "Vatican / Czech. Rep .: Cardinal Spidlik has died ” , Vatican Radio , April 17, 2010
  4. Czech Cardinal Spidlik died