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Ricardo Fernández Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.

In his land, in his home and with Inés. Faustino Menéndez Pidal in memoriam

Thu, 22 Aug 2019 10:26:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

In these brief lines I am not going to value the prestigious historian and academic of international renown, especially for his programs of study of heraldry and sigillography, nor the great contributions of his methodologically impeccable publications, nor his many and well-deserved distinctions. Today, the heart of a friend invites us to highlight some of the traits of his person that are and will be references for those who dedicate themselves to history and to the evaluation and contextualization of cultural assets. 

In the early morning of August 21, in the center of the town of Cintruénigo, at the edge of a leafy centennial pine tree, within walls that know a lot about history, for having been privileged witnesses of it and next to the chapel of the noble house of the Navascués, Faustino has left us, in his beloved land and in his dear and pampered home, after a full life in the staff and the academic, with Inés, his dear Inés, a mulier fortis, almost like those of the Bible, who has accompanied and supported him in his vital project .

In that house, next to its Library Services and garden, we have often recalled the Ciceronian aphorism that reminds the humanist of the happiness that both elements provide: Si apud bibliothecam, hortulum habes, nihil deerit. In that atmosphere, under the brick arcades and to the sound of the song of countless birds, it was always gratifying and edifying to listen to his lessons and appreciations as he encountered the past, together with documents and objects that he made speak with his comments. The last time we listened to them, together with Pablo, Benoit and Claire, three university professors, was just two weeks ago, with the usual fluency and slightly diminished strength.

I would like to highlight his humility and his perseverance. Regarding the former, he was always aware that it unites people, while pride divides them. It could be said that he governed himself with St. Francis de Sales, who emphasized humility and gentleness of heart, but always with preeminence of the former.

Through perseverance, diligence and daily work , Don Faustino achieved excellence, of which so much is said today in different fields, sometimes without knowing that it consists of superior quality, which makes a person, an institution, a work or a project worthy of appreciation and recognition. According to Aristotle "it is not enough to know it, we must try to have it and use it", although on many occasions, as Goethe reminds us, "it is difficult to find, but more difficult to value"

Don Faustino has been in love with history, to which he applied himself "sine ira et studio", contemplated not as a past-load to be totally detached from, but as resource of a past-lighthouse, which gives perspective, orients and points the way, so that our relationship with it and, in a special way, with the ideas and people who overcame their contexts, become moral springs.

Those of us who were close to him had the opportunity to perceive his delicacy, refinement, ability to listen and willingness to help. The century-old sundial of the Cirbonera house, designed by Francisco del Plo, seemed to recall at all times the Latin maxim that states "Amicis quaelibet hora" (for friends, any hour). 

These are moments for gratitude towards an eminent and simple man, particularly from this Navarre, to which he dedicated so much of his time. Gratitude, which we will gloss with a thought commented with him and Inés on numerous occasions and whose author is the bishop-viceroy Don Juan de Palafox, also treasurer of the cathedral of Tarazona and abbot of Cintruénigo: "Three things make me very tired, and the fourth abhors my soul: first, the proud poor: second, the greedy rich: third, the insolent magistrate, fourth, the ungrateful to the benefits".

With gratitude for the work done and with deep admiration, I wish to repeat something that we have expressed to you on many occasions: Thank you, ab imo pectore, thank you very much! In amicitia pignus.