As we continue our exploration of the “stained glass witnesses” in the Marble Chapel here at Emmaus, we come next to two small windows with names and a few symbols but no pictures. The first of these (on the left) is Father Emmanuel Suarez, Master General of the Order of Preachers.
Emmanuel Suarez was born in Campomanes, Asturias in Spain, November 5, 1895. He committed to the Dominican Order very early in life. After his classical education in Oviedo, Spain, he received the Dominican habit August 28, 1913, making his profession to the Order a year later. An astute thinker, Suarez continued his education at the University of Salamanca, earning degrees in in philosophy and theology with high honors. He then earned a doctorate in Civil Law with highest honors from the University of Madrid. Father Suarez continued his education and professional studies in Rome, at the Collegio Angelico, what is now called today the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (or, “Angelicum”). He began his teaching career there around 1927.
Faith and Sacrifice in Adversity
Father Suarez’s service for the Catholic Church came during a rather tumultuous time. His home region of Asturias saw some of the most deadly violence during the confrontations leading up to the Spanish Civil War. Suarez himself was visiting Spain in 1936 when the war broke out. While many of his fellow priests were being killed by the Communists, Suarez disguised himself as a longshoreman for over two years to help smuggle his countrymen out of Communist-controlled areas. Eventually, he was able to leave Spain and return to Rome to recover from the exhausting experience. After he recovered, Suarez returned to teach at the Angelicum. But serving in Rome even as an academic during the ’40s was no small task, considering Italy’s role during World War II.
Father Suarez was highly prized at the Angelicum. He was elected dean of the faculty multiple times, as well as Rector Magnificus in 1941. By 1942, he was prior over the entire institution. Some notable alumni during his tenure include Fulton Sheen, who gained notoriety for his radio and television programs throughout the ’30s-’50s, and Karol Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II.
Beyond his academic and legal duties, Father Suarez was also busy serving the Catholic Church on many councils and commissions, including the Vigilance Commission for Ecclesiastical Tribunals on Matrimonial Cases and the Superior Spanish Council for Scientific Investigation. His classical education and proficiency in Spanish, French, German, and Italian served him well in many ventures. Personally, he was well-respected and deemed exceedingly prudent, even by those he opposed in several judicial cases as a canon lawyer in Rome.
A Lifetime of Service
On September 21, 1946, Emmanuel Suarez was elected the 80th Master General of the Order of Preachers, succeeding Father Martin Gillet, who had served for seventeen years instead of the usual twelve (as the war prevented a proper convocation to elect his replacement five years earlier). This effectively made him worldwide leader of the Dominican Order (under the Pope). Having seen the rise of Communism in his home and the fall of fascism in his spiritual home, and considering how beloved and respected he was across all orders of Catholicism, Suarez was a natural choice. Pope Pius XII, no stranger to the difficulties of serving the Church during the 1940s himself, was quite pleased with the appointment.
Just a few days after ground broke for the St. Rose of Lima Priory (site of Emmaus Bible College today), Father Suarez was killed in a car crash on June 30, 1954. His Secretary General, Father Aureliano Martinez, was also killed in the crash. The pair were on their way to Spain. Father Suarez was driving and crashed the car around 5 o’clock in the morning into a tree, presumably after a heart attack. Funeral services were held in Madrid on July 6, while Requiem Masses were simultaneously held around the world. Many Dominican priests attended the funeral, as well as several ambassadors to Spain and even General Franco, who expressed “the deep sorrow of Spain at the death of an illustrious son.”
Beyond these basic biographical facts, I could not find much more about Father Suarez, despite his recency in history and beloved status, so I can’t explain the meaning of his crest or the symbols on his memorial plaque. I can roughly translate his motto as “In Peace and Righteousness,” but I welcome better linguists to correct me. I suspect his inclusion in the stained glass memorials for the St. Rose of Lima Priory was always intended, since he was Master General of the Dominican Order at the time of the construction of the building, but his passing at the time of the construction was a bittersweet experience for those involved at the time.
“In Memoriam: The Most Reverend Emmanuel Suarez, Master General of the Order of Preachers.” Dominicana, Vol. 39 No. 3. https://www.dominicanajournal.org/wp-content/files/old-journal-archive/vol39/no3/dominicanav39n3memoriammostreverendemmanuelsua.pdf
“Most Rev. Emmanuel Suarez, O.P. Eightieth Master General.” Dominicana, Vol. 31 No. 4. https://www.dominicanajournal.org/wp-content/files/old-journal-archive/vol31/no4/dominicanav31n4mostrevemmanuelsuarezopeig.pdf
Wikipedia contributors. “Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 May. 2020. Web. 20 May. 2020.
Christopher Rush graduated from Emmaus in 2003. After 15 years teaching high school in Virginia, he has returned to Emmaus and Dubuque to take over the English Department. His wife, Amy, is also an Emmaus graduate (2000). Amy is the principal of Tri-State Christian School here in Dubuque. They have two children, Julia and Ethan.