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From its inception, the Accademia has sought to make known the figure and thought of these three masters of our time. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both considered them to be spiritual teachers well-suited to illuminate Christian life with a profoundly Catholic doctrine. Their works and influences constitute the majority of themes covered in the courses, seminars, and sessions offered within the Accademia.

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Henri de Lubac

1896 - 1991

Henri de Lubac was a French Jesuit who is considered to be one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. His writings and doctrinal research played a key role in shaping the Second Vatican Council.  He was appointed a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1983.

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Hans Urs von Balthasar

1905 - 1988

Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest. He served as a university chaplain, founded an international review, and cofounded the Community of St. John along with Adrienne von Speyr. He passed away two days before he was to be appointed a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.


Adrienne von Speyr

1902 - 1967

Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss Catholic physician, writer and theologian. She was the author of over 60 books of spirituality and theology, and a mystic and stigmatist. She co-founded the Community of St. John along with Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Why These Three?

In 1990, as the Casa Balthasar was beginning to take form, then-cardinal Ratzinger expressed his desire to have the name of Henri de Lubac—still living at the time—included alongside those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr as co-patron of the house. This was to bring to the fore the solid foundation of the living Tradition of the Church, unceasingly presented by the French Jesuit’s works. Balthasar had been introduced to this Tradition in a special way when they came to know one another at Fourvière Seminary. This patrimony, consisting of the Latin and Greek Fathers as well as great medieval and modern authors, showed itself to be a precious treasure, both in working out his own theology and in accompanying Adrienne in her theological mission. Indeed, only within the broad horizon of the great Tradition of the Church was it possible for him to comprehend the originality of Adrienne’s thought and provide a form that could express it for what it is: a prophetic service for the Church in our days. Together, these three authors open a way by which one can respond to Christ’s call: to serve God the Father and one’s fellow-man wholeheartedly, even unto the Cross.

Their Work & Figure

“Hans Urs von Balthasar is unthinkable without Adrienne von Speyr. I believe that it can be shown that for all great theologians, any new theological elaboration is only possible if the prophetic element has first paved the way... prophecy and theology go hand in glove. Theology, as theological science in the strict sense, is not prophetic but may only truly become living theology under the thrust and illumination of a prophetic impulse.” (Joseph Ratzinger) 


"Henri de Lubac's theology is the general source of the internal logic in von Balthasar's theology in the sense that it determines his conceptual priorities, regulative themes, and privileged theological, philosophical, and literary sources." (Kevin Mongrain)

Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Adrienne von Speyr are three great masters of the spiritual life, whose unity comes from a deep rooting in the Ignatian spirit of contemplation and discernment, and an attentiveness to modern society and its unique challenges. Their works characteristically point to the center of Revelation: the love of the Triune God for His creation manifested as glory in the humbling of the Son. This is the center from which everything begins ever anew and into whose flow we are drawn. Hence, we can respond with our whole selves to God’s call.


In the Casa, the unity among the three authors is lived through an organic re-direction from one to another. It happens, for example, that at the beginning one is drawn more to one of the authors than the other two. This author then becomes a springboard to the others, and all three are discovered as true guides in following the Lord.


...‘Catholisism’, perhaps Henri de Lubac's most significant work, in the masterful translation by Hans Urs von Balthasar. This book was for me a key reading event. It gave me not only a new and deeper connection with the thought of the Fathers but also a new way of looking at theology and faith as such. Faith had here become an interior contemplation and, precisely by thinking with the Fathers, a present reality. De Lubac was leading his readers out of a narrowly individualistic and moralistic mode of faith and into the freedom of an essentially social faith, conceived and lived as a ‘we’.”

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Joseph Ratzinger
Excerpt from Milestones. Memoirs 1927-1977

Truly deep theological questions can rarely be answered with a simple yes or no. Rather, they are approached by the careful theologian, who circles around them, making distinctions, bringing essential aspects to light. The issue of who and how many will be saved is surely one of the thorniest theological puzzles in the Catholic tradition, and I don’t know any theologian—classical or contemporary—who performs the nimble task of bringing out the complexity and profiles of this issue better than Hans Urs von Balthasar.”

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Bishop Robert Barron

Excerpt from the Foreword to Dare We Hope 

I am happy to receive you at the end of your conference on the person of Adrienne von Speyr, a Swiss doctor who with such ardor sought the Catholic truth until her conversion in 1940. [...] Together you have sought to better delineate the mysterious and remarkable action of the Lord in a human existence thirsty for Him. [...] In short, I am happy because the Church has always needed to propose examples of laypeople deeply rooted in their socio-professional vocation and at the same time immersed in God.


Pope Saint John Paul the Great

Speech to the participants of the Conference on Adrienne von Speyr

The Vatican, September 28, 1985

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