IN MEMORIAM (Tomás Álvarez)

IN MEMORIAM (Tomás Álvarez)

On the morning of July, the 27th, Father Tomás Álvarez Fernández (Thomas of the Cross) died after a few days stay in hospital. He was born on the 17th of May1923 in Acebedo, (León), and was a Discalced Carmelite friar since the 6th of August 1939, the day of his first profession. He was ordained a priest of Christ on the 23rd of June 1946. He was one of the greatest specialists of Teresian studies of recent decades.

His life has been very fruitful, of intense study, teaching and research, but above all of living intensely the Teresian charism and fraternity, as the best service to the Order and to the Church.

He is a figure who overflowed the borders of Carmel, open to the broad horizons of the Church and culture. His broad and intense career made of him an obligatory reference to Teresian studies and for the scholars of our present culture.

His life covered a wide space of time and geographical areas: Europe, America and, more specifically, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, thanks to his taking part in congresses and the translation of his writings into the principal modern languages. Among these translations stands out the critical edition of the work of St Teresa of Jesus into French and Italian.  Likewise, the quite recent translation of the Saint Teresa Dictionary, published by the Burgos Mount Carmel publishing house and translated by Ed. Du Cerf and Edizioni OCD.

This immense work was prepared at the beginning in Rome (1948-1978) and then in Burgos (1979-2018). His studies at the Angelicum brought him in touch with Karol Wojitla, whose doctoral thesis on St John of the Cross was first published, thanks to him, in the Burgos Monte Carmel magazine in 1948.

But his studies were focussed for many years at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of the Carmelites in Rome (the Teresianum). This was the great platform for his profound teaching. It was from here he directed the Positio for St Teresa’s doctorate, proclaimed by Paul VI in 1970, and accomplished a theological reading of Teresian studies in the light of the Second Vatican Council, which provided nourishment for following generations.

Besides his great contributions from the Teresianum in Rome, there was his restoration and critical edition of St Teresa’s manuscripts: The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle. There followed after, in Burgos, the facsimile edition of the rest of Teresa’s works, together with a thorough historical and critical system.

In the year of the V Centenary of the birth of Saint Teresa (2015) he published a commentary on each one of her works and accomplished an exhaustive investigation of her letters and all of her autograph manuscripts, which are preserved in the Escorial (more than 1,000 pages).

Personally, I have always felt great admiration for Father Tomás. As librarian of the Teresianum since 2011, I have had the honour of making known his immense work to the students and researchers. I was fortunate to be like the witness and spokesman of his mastery in the field of letters, a quality so praised by Mother Teresa, which he cultivated with such dedication and such love. He mentioned this a few days before becoming ill and he replied to me, humbly and wisely, that it was all the work of the Lord and of his great love for Teresa of Jesus.

Ciro García, ocd (Librarian of the Teresianum, Rome)