Prosper Grech

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His Eminence

Prosper Grech

Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria Goretti
Cardinal Grech 2014.jpg
Cardinal Grech in 2014
Other post(s)
Ordination25 March 1950
Consecration8 February 2012
by Paul Cremona
Created cardinal18 February 2012
by Benedict XVI
RankCardinal deacon
Personal details
Birth nameStanley Grech
Born(1925-12-24)24 December 1925
Vittoriosa, Crown Colony of Malta
Died30 December 2019(2019-12-30) (aged 94)
Rome, Italy
DenominationRoman Catholic
Alma mater
MottoIn te Domine speravi
('In you, Lord, I take refuge'; Psalm 71:1)
Styles of
Prosper Grech
Coat of arms of Prospero Grech.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Prosper Grech OSA (24 December 1925 – 30 December 2019) was a Maltese Augustinian friar, who co-founded the Patristic Institute Augustinianum in Rome. He was created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 18 February 2012. He was the second Maltese member of the College of Cardinals, the first since 1843.[a]

Formation and studies[edit]

Born Stanley Grech in Vittoriosa, Malta, on 24 December 1925, he studied at the Lyceum.[2] He took the name Prospero when he joined the Augustinian Order in 1943.[3] While Malta was under siege during the Second World War, Grech served as a gunner in the Royal Malta Artillery.[4] He was ordained to the priesthood at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome[5] on 25 March 1950.[6]

Grech studied philosophy at St. Mark's Priory, Rabat, Malta, and theology in St. Monica's College, Rome. He earned a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University, Rome (1953), obtained a licentiate in sacred scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome (1954), and a diploma in educational psychology from University of Fribourg, Switzerland (1951). Grech conducted research in Semitic languages at the universities of Oxford (1957–58) and Cambridge (1958–59).[1]


In 1959, Grech was appointed lecturer at the Augustinian Theological College, Rabat. He also served as professor at the Augustine Institute and joined the staff of the Vicar General for Vatican City.[2] As secretary to the Vicar General, Bishop Petrus Canisius Van Lierde, who was sacristan of the Apostolic Palace,[7] his duties included dressing Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI for liturgical functions. During the 1963 Papal conclave, he heard Giovanni Battista Montini's confession a couple of hours prior to his election as Pope Paul VI.[4] In 1970, together with Fr. Agostino Trapè, Grech founded the Patristic Institute Augustinianum attached to the Lateran University in Rome[2] and served as its president from 1971 to 1979.[6] He was a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS);[5] he became a member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in 2003 and of the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 2004.[6]

Grech lectured on hermeneutics for over thirty years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.[8] He became a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1984 and went to India on behalf of the congregation as an apostolic visitor of seminaries in 1998.[6]

Grech authored various articles and publications and presented lectures on the Bible, hermeneutics and patristics.[9] On 13 December 2011, he was appointed a Companion of the National Order of Merit of the Republic of Malta.[1]


Pope Benedict XVI announced on 6 January 2012 that he would create Grech a cardinal, together with 21 others, on 18 February 2012. [10] He was the first Augustinian made a cardinal in 111 years.[11]

As canon law requires cardinals to be bishops unless they receive special dispensation, Grech was consecrated a bishop on 8 February 2012 by Paul Cremona, Archbishop of Malta, assisted by Archbishop Giuseppe Versaldi, and Mario Grech, Bishop of Gozo.[12] He took the episcopal motto In te Domine speravi ('In you, Lord, I take refuge'), from the opening words of Psalm 71.[13]

He was created a cardinal deacon by Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory on 18 February 2012 and assigned the titular church of Santa Maria Goretti.[5] Grech delivered the opening meditation at the 2013 papal conclave, but his age prevented him from participating as an elector.[14] He warned that the Church was always threatened by disunity: "Between ultra-traditionalist extremists and ultra-progressive extremists, between priests rebelling against obedience and those who don't recognize the signs of the times, there always will be the risk of small schisms that not only damage the church, but go against the will of God." He raised the issue of how the Church hierarchy was handling the sexual abuse crisis: "Today many people are not able to come to believe in Christ because his face is obscured or hidden behind an institution that lacks transparency."[15][16] When Pope Francis marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Augustinianum, he praised Grech for the "grandiose simplicity" his sermons had achieved in his old age.[17]

Grech died in Rome's Santo Spirito Hospital on 30 December 2019.[3][18]


  1. ^ The first was Fabrizio Sceberras Testaferrata (1757-1843).[1]


  1. ^ a b c Vella, Matthew (6 January 2012). "Maltese theologian to be appointed Cardinal". Malta Today. Retrieved 12 April 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c "Pope to appoint Maltese Cardinal". Times of Malta. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "Cardinal Prospero Grech dies". The Malta Independent. 30 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b Scarisbrick, Veronica (16 February 2012). "Cardinal Prosper Grech:'in te Domini speravi'". Vatican Radio. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c "Grech Card. Prosper, O.S.A." Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c d "New cardinals created by Benedict XVI". L'Osservatore Romano. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  7. ^ "Interview with Cardinal Prosper Grech by Paolo Mattei" (Interview). 30 Giorni. 1 February 2012.
  8. ^ Lucie-Smith, Alexander (9 January 2012). "Father Prospero, possibly the most intelligent man alive, is to become Malta's second ever cardinal". Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "An insightful lecture by Cardinal Prospero Grech OSA". The Malta Independent. Retrieved 12 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (6 January 2012). "Pope names 22 new cardinals, including Dolan and O'Brien". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 1 January 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Il Cardinale Grech, primo agostiniano nel Sacro Collegio dopo 111anni". Retrieved 28 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "L-ORDINAZZJONI EPISKOPALI TA' MONS. PROSPERO GRECH – ARĊISQOF TITULARI TA' SAN LEONE". Archdiocese of Malta (in Maltese). 9 February 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Episcopal ordination on February 8". Times of Malta. Times of Malta. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Wooden, Cindy (8 August 2013). "Cardinal urged Church unity in speech to conclave before Francis's election". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 8 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Wooden, Cindy (31 December 2019). "Maltese cardinal, patristic scholar, dies at 94". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  16. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). CV. April–May 2013. pp. 352–7. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Pope to Augustinianum: Be Faithful to Your Roots and to Your Task". Zenit. 17 February 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  18. ^ Reis, Bernadette Mary (30 December 2019). "Cardinal Prosper Grech dies suddenly in Rome". Vatican News. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
Additional sources
  • Rafael Lazcano, Episcopologio agustiniano. Editorial Agustiniana, Guadarrama (Madrid), 2014, vol. I, p. 364-386.

External links[edit]