Spain. The Chair “Saint Anthony Mary Claret,” of the Pontifical University of Salamanca, is sponsored by the Conference of Claretian Provincials of Iberia. Its objective is to investigate and promote the popular religiosity. This year it has collaborated with the Basilica of Our Lady of La Encina in the celebration of the Marian Congress, with the title “Mary in the faith of God’s people,” which has taken place in Ponferrada (León) from April 24 to 26.
The Diocese of Astorga, to which Fr. Claret felt especially united (1), is celebrating the I Centenary of the Canonical Coronation of the Image of Our Lady of La Encina of Ponferrada. The theme of the congress has been developed from different view points: theology, history, spirituality and art. All this has permitted the attendants to get an ample and detailed understanding of the presence and meaning of Mary in the life of the Church and of the Christians.
The academic acts took place in the Bergidum Theatre of Ponferrada, and had a numerous attendance in all its sessions. It was inaugurated by the Bishop of Astorga, Mons. Camilo Lorenzo Iglesias, together with the dean of the Faculty of Theology of UPSA, Gonzalo Tejerina Arias; the delegate of the Conference of Provincials of Iberia, Aquilino Bocos Merino, and the rector of the Basilica of La Encina, Antolín de Cela Pérez. The opening conference was pronounced by the Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona and Tudela, Mons. Fernando Sebastián Aguilar.
On Saturday, April 25, there were three conferences and two communications panels. The former were read by the professor of UPSA, José María de Miguel, the professor of the Theological Study of Astorga, Avelino de Luis Ferreras and the professor of the Theological Institute of Compostela, Segundo Pérez López. On their turn, the panels were conducted by the experts Antolín de Cela Pérez, José Luis de Castro Pérez, José Manuel Sutil Pérez, Vicente Fernández Vázquez, José Antonio Balboa de Paz, Miguel Ángel González García and Rafael González Rodríguez.
Lastly, the day of Sunday, April 26, offered a conference of the Professor of the Theological Institute of Religious Life of Madrid, Fr. José Cristo Rey García Paredes on ‘Marian Spirituality in the Christianity of the XXI century’ and a panel of communications on ‘The Mother of the Saviour in the frontiers of the faith and of the Church’ with the journalist Ninfa Watt; the theologian Marifé Ramos and the ecumenist Fernando R. Garrapucho. To end the Congress, the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Mons. Julián Barrio, pronounced the closing conference, and the bishop of Astorga, Mons. Camilo Lorenzo Iglesias, thanked and congratulated the organizers of the Congress for their efforts and for their success. The final Eucharist was celebrated in the Basilica of Our Lady of La Encina.
At the end of the Congress there were comments on the success for the election of the theme, for the place chosen, and for being able to win the interest of the lay people who have collaborated very intensely. One of the columnists underlines the success of the Claret Chair, of the Pontifical University of Salamanca, sponsored by the Congregation of Missionaries Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.