In a solemn rite celebrated during the vespers of 4 August 2021, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, theologian and poet, archivist, and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, became a member of the Dominican Family by making profession in the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic.
With various representatives of the Dominican Family in Portugal witnessing the occasion, the Cardinal received the habit of the friars from the hands of fr. José Nunes, OP, Prior Provincial of the Province of Portugal, before whom he also made profession to follow the Rule of the fraternities for his whole life.
Following his reception into the Order, the Cardinal delivered a conference on the theme of the Jubilee. All these took place at the convent of St. Dominic in Lisbon as the Province of Portugal celebrates the 800th anniversary of the dies natalis of the Order’s founder, St. Dominic. In his lecture, he evoked St. Dominic as a man who “lived intensely” and knew how to create a table of “companions on mission”. He also stated that the initial impulse of the Order of Preachers gave great importance to a knowledge that is more than that of erudition and took into account “the conditions in which men live, the condition of the poorest”, with particular attention to the “popular classes”. Therefore, he stressed, St. Dominic is remembered by many as Europe’s first “Minister of Education”.
Born on 15 December 1965 in Funchal, in the island of Madeira, Cardinal José Tolentino was ordained a priest on 28 July 1990. He went on to pursue biblical studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon, and the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice in New York. On 26 June 2018, Pope Francis appointed him as archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, elevating him at the same time to the titular see of Suava, with the dignity of archbishop. He subsequently received episcopal ordination in Lisbon on 28 July of the same year.
Among his previous ministries include serving as rector of the Pontifical Portuguese College in Rome, as well as professor at the Faculty of Theology, and later on vice-rector, of the Catholic University of Portugal in Lisbon. He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 5 October 2019, of the Deaconry of Santi Domenico e Sisto. He is a member of the Pontifical Councils for Culture as well as of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. As he joined the family of St. Dominic, Cardinal José Tolentino showed great joy for becoming, in his words, “in the heart of this family”, which he approached in a “natural way”.