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Cardinal Amigo: I decided to be a Franciscan after seeing how they found joy in little things

At 86 years old, Cardinal Carlos Amigo remains an authority on popular religiosity in Spain. He is often characterized by his charm, firm resolve, and closeness with the people. 

He fondly recalls how his last name, which means “friend” in Spanish, was always a point of conversation in the College of Cardinals. 

Archbishop Emeritus of Seville
“There was one cardinal, Cardinal Tarancón, who always called me 'friend Amigo.' He would always say, I’ll ask friend Amigo, or, let me call over friend Amigo. There are many instances of my last name being confused with my first name and similar stories of that nature.”

Amigo was the provincial of the Franciscan Province of Santiago, and a member of both the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical Council for Health. In addition, he was a delegate of the Holy See at the Islamic-Christian Seminar on dialogue, and he participated in the 2005 and 2013 papal conclaves. 

As a Franciscan, Amigo has been able to closely observe various forms of popular devotion.

Archbishop Emeritus of Seville
“What is the Church missing? It has everything it needs. It’s right in front of us. It’s a terrible thing to die of thirst, but it’s even worse to die of thirst having water nearby. We cannot let ourselves be dying for faith. The wells are full of water and waiting for us to drink from them.”

The former Archbishop of Seville says he “contracted” his sense of vocation while studying medicine in college, when he saw a group of Franciscan friars and was struck by how differently they saw the world.

Archbishop Emeritus of Seville
“The friars enjoyed even the smallest things. They saw everything with a positive outlook, they took a personal interest in others, they listened intently when people spoke, and they possessed a captivating joy and personal sense of peace. I told myself: “I want to be like these people.”

Throughout his life, Amigo has relied on the guiding light of faith to lead him forward. That’s why in times of hardship he invites people to “look upwards, beyond that which is before our eyes.”

-How would you like to be remembered?

Archbishop Emeritus of Sevilla
“As a Franciscan who tried to serve God and his brothers and sisters.”

He says he hopes to be one who sees “God at work everywhere, and His presence in everything.” 

Daniel Díaz Vizzi

TR: Justin McLellan