Rome. Following the loss of Oktavian Schmucki, the great scholar of St. Francis and Francisanism, another noted confrere has left us, one who also was an extensive writer and worked in Rome as well. Br. Bernardino de Armellada, born Agostino García Perez, was eighty-eight years old. Seventy of these years were lived in religious life and sixty-four in the priesthood. He spent his last days in the infirmary in Madrid. The friars there who assisted him tell of his decling health, of which he was well aware. Two months ago they were surprised by his words of farewell: “Blessed be God. Goodbye, brothers.” Then on this past February 22, Br. Bernardino went peacefully to meet Sister Death.
In 2010, on the occasion of Br. Bernardino’s eightieth birthday, the Pontifical University ‘Antonianum’ published, in his honor, the volume Religioni et Doctrinae, edited by Br. Aleksander Horowski, President of the Capuchin Historical Institute. There he presented Br. Bernardino as an “expert in Duns Scotus, a fertile historian, and an appreciated and sought-after professor.” Philosophy and history were his two main fields of research.
Born into a family of workers, the fourth of eight children, his love of study was revealed at an early age. At seventeen he entered the novitiate in Bilbao. The years of philosophy that followed, three in Montehano and one in León, encouraged him, as he himself says, in the búsqueda de Dios a través de las últimas causas – the quest for God by means of final causes. He then studied for the licentiate in theology at the University of Salamanca. Then, at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he was awarded the doctorate for his work on Scotus and the primacy of love with the respect to the ultimate end of human life. In Rome, Br. Bernardino attended the courses of the noted theologians Fr. Zoltán Alszeghy and Fr. Juan Alfaro, arriving even at the correction of some of the latter’s assertions on the gratuity of supernatural gifts. In 1964 in Germany he was in contact with the famous theologian Karl Rahner, to whom he presented a work on the doctrine of the supernatural.
The greater part of his scholarship was on the great figures of the Franciscan world, Bonaventure, Scotus, Ockham, Lawrence of Brindisi. On the occasion of the VII centenary of the birth of Scotus in 1966, he held a conference in Oxford, and on the occasion of the VII centenary of his death in 2008 he participated in the work of a Scotistic Congress in Milan.
Among other topics of his scholarship was Mariology, with particular focus on the Immaculate Conception, according to different Franciscan authors. As he said in an interview, “Ever since the years of seminary the Virgin Mary has been a maternal presence in my spirituality.”
Held to be the greatest scholar of the theology of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, he published the Mariale of the ‘Doctor Apostolicus.’ (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos)
In 1985 Br. Bernardino was sent to Rome as professor at the Institute of Spirituality and secretary for the Spanish language at the General Curia, as well as vice postulator for the cause of the Spanish martyrs of the Province of Castile.
Br. Bernardino was known for his love, dedication, and fidelity to the Church, as well as her doctrine. As Br. Benedict Vadekkekara writes, “He was very bonded to the Capuchin Order and was proud to wear the habit wherever he went.”
With such fidelity to God, his Church, and the Capuchin Order, he is now presented at his appointment with Sister Death, who has certainly found him with what it takes to be admitted, by sheer grace, to the contemplation of the Face of God. (m.m.)