Luis Aponte Martínez

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His Eminence
Luis Aponte Martínez
Cardinal Archbishop of San Juan
See San Juan
Installed January 15, 1965
Term ended March 26, 1999
Predecessor James Peter Davis
Successor Roberto González Nieves OFM
Other posts Bishop of Ponce (1963-1964)
Ordination April 10, 1950
by Bishop James Edward McManus CSsR
Consecration October 12, 1960
by Cardinal Francis Spellman
Created Cardinal March 5, 1973
Personal details
Born (1922-08-04)August 4, 1922
Lajas, Puerto Rico
Died April 10, 2012(2012-04-10) (aged 89)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Buried Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Luis Aponte Martínez (August 4, 1922 – April 10, 2012) was Archbishop of San Juan in Puerto Rico. To date he is the only Puerto Rican to have been elevated to a cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of San Juan for 34 years. He was a Cardinal Elector in the two conclaves of 1978 responsible for the elections of Popes John Paul I and John Paul II.

Early life and education[edit]

Cardinal Aponte Martínez was born in the town of Lajas, Puerto Rico,[1][2] the son of Santiago Evangelista Aponte and Rosa María Martínez.[3]

Aponte came from a large family, the eighth of 18 children. He served as an altar boy for many years in his town of Lajas. parish church.

Aponte studied in the Seminary of San Ildefonso in San Juan;[3] from there he went to Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied in the Seminary of Saint John.[1] He also attended Boston College and earned his Doctorate from the Seminary of Saint Leo of Florida.

Priesthood and episcopacy[edit]

Aponte was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Ponce in San German, Puerto Rico, on April 10, 1950, by James Edward McManus CSsR, the Bishop of Ponce.[1][2] Between 1950 and 1955, he served as a pastor in various towns in the Diocese. In 1955 he served as Secretary to the Bishop, as well as Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese. In 1957, he once again served as a pastor and also served as chaplain for the Puerto Rico National Guard, until his appointment in 1957 as Chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce.[3]

On October 12, 1960, Aponte Martinez became only the second native-born Puerto Rican in nearly 150 years (after Juan Alejo de Arizmendi) to be consecrated as a Bishop, being appointed Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Ponce by Pope John XXIII, assigned as the Titular Bishop of Lares in Asia Minor (Turkey). On April 16, 1963, Aponte Martinez was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Ponce by Pope John, to which office he succeeded on November 18, 1963, and was installed on the following February 22. On November 4, 1964, he was appointed by Pope Paul VI as the Archbishop of San Juan.[1][2]


Styles of
Luis Aponte Martínez
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

On March 5, 1973,[1][2] Pope Paul VI made Archbishop Aponte Martínez the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria della Provvidenza a Monteverde. He held the position of President of the Board of Directors of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. He was President of the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference[1] and also of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM).

In 1984, Aponte helped coordinate and was among the many dignitaries who greeted Pope John Paul II, upon his visit to Puerto Rico.

Cardinal Aponte was actively involved in some of the church's major acquisitions in Puerto Rico. Among these were a television and radio station and a weekly publication called El Visitante (The Visitor). This served to spread the church's point of view all over the island.

Cardinal Aponte retired as Archbishop of San Juan in May 1999, after almost 30 years as Archbishop. He participated in the preparation for the Papal Conclave of 2005, but was unable to vote, since he was 82 at the time of the Conclave, past the canonical age of 80 for electors.

In 2006, he published his memoirs, Unde hoc mihi.


According to a brief online news release posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, by Catholic News Service (CNS), the Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus,: "died April 10 at the Hospital Español e Auxilio Mutuo in San Juan after a long illness. He was 89. ... Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuno declared five days of official mourning for the cardinal, who died on the 62nd anniversary of his priestly ordination.

The cardinal's body was taken to churches in Lajas, San German, Ponce and Santurce, to allow local Catholics to pay their respects, and a Mass of the Resurrection took place on April 16 in the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista in Old San Juan. Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, retired Archbishop of Seville, Spain, presided, with the Puerto Rican bishops and Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, Papal Nuncio to the Dominican Republic and Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico, concelebrating.

At the time of Aponte's death, the College of Cardinals was left with 210 members, 123 of whom were under the age of 80 (the current maximum age to vote in a papal conclave).[4]

Episcopal succession[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
James Peter Davis
Archbishop of San Juan
Succeeded by
Roberto González Nieves OFM