John Postius Sala

POSTÍUS SALA, John. (Born at Berga on 8th August.1876- died at Solsona on 23rd August.1952)

postius 2Fr. Postíus has probably been the most prominent and best known figure that our congregation gave to the Church in the last century. He joined the seminary at Barbastro in 1888, and did his novitiate in Cervera (Lleida), where he made his first profession of religious vows in 1892. After that he pursued the studies of philosophy there. He completed theology at Santo Domingo de la Calzada and received his priestly ordination there in 1900. Because of his extraordinary intellectual endowments, the superiors assigned him immediately to Rome to specialize in Law and Archaeology. He shared space with illustrious classmates such as Eugenio Pacelli (future Pope Pius XII) and the future cardinals La Puma and Tedeschini, with all of whom he would maintain friendship and collaboration in the future.

After securing doctorate in both civil and Canon Law he taught at the theologate of Domingo de la Calzada from 1903 to 1905. In 1905 he moved to Madrid where he lived until 1934.

In Madrid Fr. Postius served as spiritual director of the seminary in Madrid from 1905 to 1922 and continued there as confessor to many seminarians-among them were several future bishops- until 1932. But during these years he devoted primarily to the apostolate of the press, contributing regularly to the Claretian journal Iris de Paz from its inception. Taking a cue from its popularity, he founded the Ilustración del Cleroin 1906. This new publication was extremely useful for Spanish-speaking priests till the days of Vatican II (in 1971 it was rechristened Misión Abierta and continued on till 2001 when it ended publishing). In both El Iris de la Paz and IIlustración del Clero for which he served as director for many years, Fr. Postius published over 400 articles, some of which are of considerable length. His most famous work of research was El Código de Derecho Canónico aplicado a España (The Code of Canon Law applied to Spain) published in l926. Seeing his competence in legal matters, bishops and religious institutes frequently sought his advice. Many times he was the spokesperson of the Spanish Episcopal Conference in international meetings. He himself made several contributions at Eucharistic, Marian, catechetical and missionary congresses. It can be said that Father Postíus played an active- at times decisive- role in the life of the Spanish church from 1905 to 1934.

The services of Fr. Postíus to the Congregation are innumerable and praiseworthy. He was elected and re-elected general counselor in the General Chapters of 1922, 1934 and 1937. He served as vicar general from 1930 to 1934. He also served as postulator and solicitor to the Holy See and worked tirelessly for the beatification and canonization of Father Founder. apart – apart from making numerous investigations on his own regarding the life of the founderpostius-1

He searched official records and made contact with families where he discovered many letters of Fr. Claret and other documents related to the life and mission of our Founder. He published, for the first time in 1916, both the Autobiography, accompanying it with a personal critical study and the Chronicle of the Congregation written by P. Xifré in 1893. As Visitor to the missions of Guinea he saw to its good governance. We owe him the foundation of our missions for the migrants in Paris and Marseilles.

In the context of the anti-ecclesiastical legislation of the Spanish Republic (1931), Fr.Postíus formed the National Secretariat of Religious Institutes (SENIR) in order to organized the religious orders and congregations and he chaired and advised the body until 1934 when the General Government moved its residence to Rome. Following the electoral victory of a notably antireligious coalition in Spain in the spring of 1936, he was transferred to Madrid to monitor “the situation in Spain.” Since his diligent efforts to protect our Theology houses from the persecution did not have the desired success, he had to undergo the ordeal of the holocaust of Barbastro, Cervera and other houses during the civil war. He himself spent two years of civil war held up in Madrid, initially in prison (from which he was released at the behest of Cardinal Pacelli, the Secretary of State) and then as a refugee in embassies.

The extent of the acquaintances and contacts of Fr. Postíus was immense. He was a confident of bishops, cardinals and nuncios. He cultivated personal friendship with the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII, and other members of the royal family (some of whom had known Father Founder), and at the same time he also tried to reach out to a number of leaders and politicians of the Republic. His manners, goodness and prestige helped him to access all these offices in order to serve the Church.

postius3His prodigious work rate, the trauma of the Spanish Civil War and his well known perfectionism may have contributed to a mental breakdown in 1947, and the General Chapter of 1949 exonerated him of all his responsibilities. He spent a long “dark night”, an unspeakable spiritual suffering, with which the Lord wanted to refine that giant spirit. After a period of relative peace of mind, he breathed his last in Solsona in 1952, surrounded by the admiration and affection of all and leaving behind a great legacy of courageous testimony, hard work, and vision for the future.

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