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José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça (born 15 December 1965) is a Portuguese prelate of the Catholic Church who has held the rank of archbishop since July 2018 and served as Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church since 1 September 2018. Until his Vatican appointment, he spent his career as a university educator and administrator, theologian, and poet.

José Tolentino Mendonça
Librarian of the Holy Roman Church
Archivist of the Holy Roman Church
Mgr José Tolentino Mendonça.jpg
ChurchCatholic Church
Appointed1 September 2018
PredecessorJean-Louis Bruguès, OP
Other postsTitular Archbishop of Suava (2018-)
Ordination28 July 1990
by Teodoro de Faria
Consecration28 July 2018
by Manuel III, Cardinal-Patriarch of Lisbon
Personal details
Birth nameJosé Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça
Born (1965-12-15) 15 December 1965 (age 53)
Machico, Madeira, Portugal
Alma mater
MottoConsiderate lilia agri - Mt 6,28
Coat of armsJosé Tolentino Mendonça's coat of arms

On 1 September 2019, Pope Francis announced he would make him a cardinal on 5 October 2019.[1]



He was born in Madeira, Portugal, on 15 December 1965. He spent part of his earliest years in Angola, leaving at the age of nine when Portugal withdrew from its African colonies.[2] He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Funchal, Madeira, on 28 July 1990.[3] He published his first book of poems, Os Dias Contados, the same year.[2] He obtained a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of Portugal in 1989 and a licentiate in biblical sciences at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1992. He obtained a doctorate in biblical theology from the Catholic University of Portugal in 2004.[3]

He has been a lecturer at the diocesan seminary of Funchal, the rector of the Pontifical Portuguese College in Rome, the vice rector and a lecturer at the Catholic University of Portugal, and a visiting lecturer in Brazil at the Catholic Universities of Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro and at the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology of the University Center of Belo Horizonte.[3]

After attending a meeting that Pope Benedict XVI held with a large group of artists in 2009, Mendonça said that the pope's gesture of hospitality was appreciated and that Benedict has signaled to the artists that "within the Church, within the Christian space, they have their home, a sort of homeland".[4] He was awarded the 2009 Inês de Castro Foundation Literary Prize for O viajante sem sono (The Sleepless Traveler).[5]

He was named a consulter of the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2011.[6]

Pope Francis chose him to deliver a series of ten Lenten lectures to the Roman Curia in 2018.[7][8] In addition to the Bible, his sermons referenced a variety of writers, including Fernando Pessoa, Roland Barthes and Clarice Lispector. He said: "Writers are important spiritual masters."[2] He later said that he tells his bible students "that a Bible scholar, or a priest, has to see a lot of movies, has to listen to a lot of music, has to get in touch with the world of the arts." His sermons were published as Elogio da Sede with a preface by Pope Francis.[9]

José Tolentino Mendonça at Capela do Rato, 22 July 2018

On 26 June 2018 Pope Francis appointed him Vatican archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, effective 1 September, and named him titular archbishop of Suava.[3] He was consecrated a bishop on 28 July by Manuel Clemente, Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, assisted by Cardinal António Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fátima, and Teodoro de Faria, Bishop Emeritus of Funchal.[10]

He has published numerous volumes and articles in the fields of theology and Biblical exegesis. He has won awards for his poetry as well.[7]


  • De Igual para Igual (2000)
  • A Estrada Branca (2005)
  • A Noite abre os meus Olhos (2006)
  • O Viajante sem Sono (2009)
  • Estação Central (2012)
  • A Papoila e o Monge (2013)
  • A construção de Jesus. Uma leitura narrativa de Lc 7, 36-50 (Lisboa: Assírio & Alvim, 2004)
  • A Leitura Infinita. Bíblia e Interpretação (Lisboa: Assírio & Alvim, 2008)
  • O Hipopótamo de Deus e Outros Textos (Lisboa: Assírio & Alvim, 2010)
  • O tesouro escondido (Lisboa: Paulinas, 2011)
    • Hidden Treasure: The Art of Searching Within (Alba House, 2014)
  • Pai-Nosse que estás na terra (Lisboa: Paulinas, 2011)
    • Our Father who Art on Earth: The Lord's Prayer for Believers and Unbelievers (Paulist Press, 2013)
  • Nenhum caminho será longo. Para uma teologia da amizade (Lisboa: Paulinas, 2012)
    • No Journey Will Be Too Long: Friendship in Christian Life (Paulist Press, 2015)
  • La mistica dell’istante. Tempo e promessa (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 2015)[12] (in Italian)
  • Jesus and the Woman: Revealing God's Mercy (Paulist Press, 2017)
  • With co-editors Alfredo Teixeira, Alexandre Palma, Religion and Culture in the Process of Global Change: Portuguese Perspectives (Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change, Series VIII, Vol. 19, Council for Research in Values & Philosophy, 2016)

Honours and AwardsEdit


Archbishop José Tolentino Mendonça, Belém, 28.07.2018


  • Laurate of Prémio Cidade de Lisboa de Poesia (1998)
  • PEN Clube Português Award (2005)
  • Inês de Castro Foundation Literary Award (2009)
  • Finalist of the Casino da Póvoa Literary Award (2011)
  • Top 100 Most Influential Portuguese of 2012, by Jornal Expresso (2012)
  • Finalist of the Casino da Póvoa Literary Award (2015)
  • Literary Award Res Magnae (2015)
  • Grand Award APE/CM of Loulé - Crónica e Dispersos Literários (2016)
  • Grande Poetry Award Teixeira de Pascoaes (2016)


  1. ^ "Annuncio di Concistoro il 5 ottobre per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali, 01.09.2019" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 1 September 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Borga, Marcos (26 June 2018). "Tolentino Mendonça: O poeta que o Papa quis ouvir" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Resignations and Appointments, 26.06.2018" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 26 June 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Priest-Poet Evaluates Pope's Meeting With Artists". Zenit. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Prémio Inês de Castro para Tolentino Mendonça" (in Portuguese). Agência Ecclesia. 30 January 2010.
  6. ^ "El sacerdote y poeta José Tolentino Mendonça, nombrado Consultor del Pontificio Consejo de la Cultura" (in Portuguese). Hijas de San Pablo. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Pope chooses Portuguese priest-poet to lead Lenten retreat". Crux. Catholic News Service. 29 January 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Pope's Spiritual Exercises: Despite Our Being 'Incomplete' & 'Under Construction,' Jesus Offers Us Unconditional Love". Zenit. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  9. ^ Gomes, João Francisco (22 April 2018). "Tolentino Mendonça: 'Achava que tinha sonhado que o Papa me tinha convidado para orientar o retiro'". El Observador (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  10. ^ Gomes, João Francisco (28 July 2018). "Arcebispo Tolentino Mendonça continua a ser poeta. "Para mim não há diferença entre uma biblioteca e um jardim"". Observador (in Portuguese). Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Poems from the Portuguese: José Tolentino Mendonça". Centro Nacional de Cultura. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  12. ^ Pontara Pederiva, Maria Teresa (23 January 2016). "La teologia dei sensi". La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 29 June 2018.
Additional sources

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jean-Louis Bruguès
Librarian of the Holy Roman Church
1 September 2018 -
Succeeded by
Archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives
1 September 2018 -