Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar was born in Lucerne, Switzerland on August 24, 1905 of Catholic family. He received a doctorate in Literature and Philosophy in 1928 after alternating studies in Zurich, Vienna, and Berlin. He had extraordinary talent in music for his childhood and youth were pervaded by music, but it was curtailed when he entered the Society of Jesus in 1929. He studied theology at Lyon from 1933-37. He was ordained priest in July 1936. From 1937-39 he served as an associate editor of Stimmen der Zeit. In 1945, he founded together with Adrienne von Speyr the secular institute Johannesgemeinschaft. He later established Johannes Verlag, a publishing house which issued major works on the Fathers of the Church and other "Christian masters."

Balthasar’s brilliance was recognized by Pope Paul VI by nominating him a member of the original International Theological Commission in 1969. He was reappointed by the same Pope, then by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and 1986. In 1972, he launched in Germany and Italy the International Catholic Review Communio. This review is presently a federation of 13 editors. In 1984 he received his highest honor, the International Paul VI prize.

Von Balthasar is one of the most prolific writers of our times. His bibliography includes 85 separate volumes, over 500 articles and contributions to collected works, and nearly a hundred translations. Plus numerous smaller pieces and the 60 volumes of the works of Adrienne von Speyr to whom his work was absolutely inseparable. Though his earliest works came into being independently.

Among his many writings were monographs on Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus, Therese von Lisieux: Geschechte einer Sendung (1950) and Elisbeth von Dijon und ihre geistliche Sendung (1951). Some of his well known writings were Das Herz der Welt (1943), Theodmaratik, Aesthetic, Wahrheit, and Prolegomena. The Lectio Spiritualis and Christliche Meister, writings for help on contemplative prayer, were closest to his heart.

Balthasar died on June 26, 1988, two days before his elevation as a Cardinal.

- Elmer Villamayor



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