Pironio and the Order of Preachers

Blessed Eduardo Pironio (1920 -1998) was connected throughout his life to the Order of Preachers. At the time he entered the seminary it was customary in Argentina for seminarians to become a tertiary of a traditional Order in order to adopt a specific spirituality as St. Joseph Gabriel del Rosario Brochero (1840-1914) had done.

In the years of Bl. Eduardo’s formation, the revival of Thomism was in full force and many priests were its ardent promoters. Great Thomists, such as Enrique Rau, the first bishop of Mar del Plata, whose successor Bl. Eduardo was to become, and Octavio Derisi, founder of the Argentine Catholic University, were his role models. Bl. Eduardo was ordained a priest in 1943 and joined the Third Order in Buenos Aires along with Derisi in 1947 on 7 March, the feast of St. Thomas. Prominent personalities led the fraternity, which preserved an ancient tradition of counting great figures of the Argentinean clergy among its tertiaries. The spiritual director was Br Marcolino Paez, OP, who, the following year, founded the Argentinean Thomistic Society together with Derisi. Years later, Father Paez would join the General Curia in different offices. Dr. Guillermo Gallardo, a member of the National Academy of History, was his novice master. 

Eduardo was professed on 29 August 1948, on the feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist and remained very attached to the Order. It was customary for him to preach in the basilica of Buenos Aires on the great feasts. He shared with the friars his holidays in Cordoba and his teaching activities at the Catholic University of Argentina since its foundation.

From 1953 to 1955 he studied in Rome and obtained a degree in theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). His thesis was entitled “Divine Paternity in the Writings of Dom Columba Marmion”.

Appointed Bishop of Mar del Plata in 1972, he turned to the Order for the direction of the Catholic University, founded by his predecessor, Monsignor Enrique Rau, along the lines laid down by the Second Vatican Council, under the leadership of Brother Pablo Sorrentino, OP. 

On his promotion to the Roman Curia in 1975, Eduardo remained close to the Order. From his curial post, he supported the foundation and consolidation of the Fraternity and Groupings of St. Thomas Aquinas (FASTA), founded by Brother Aníbal Fosbery, OP. In 1983 the General Chapter was held in Rome. Brother Domingo Basso, OP participated as provincial and Brother Aníbal Fosbery, OP as definitor.  At this chapter, the Irishman Brother Damian Byrne, OP, a former missionary to Argentina, was elected Master of the Order. During the chapter, Eduardo addressed the capitulars on St Dominic. Years later, in 1992, when he finished his office as Master, Brother Damian went to say goodbye to Eduardo accompanied by Brother Carlos Azpiroz, OP, a student priest in Rome, resident in Santa Sabina, to whom he commented that he had never heard anyone speak about Our Holy Father Dominic as the Cardinal did. 

It should be added that His Eminence ordained the future Master of the Order, Br Carlos, as a deacon and then as a priest together with other friars in 1987, the year of the Pope’s visit to Argentina and of the celebration of World Youth Day. Because of his relationship with the Dominicans, the Argentinean episcopate initially entrusted his cause to the Promoter of the Order.  This work was later continued by others and Bl Eduardo was beatified on 16 December 2023. His liturgical memorial is celebrated on 4 February.

Brother Juan Pablo Corsiglia, OP

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