Cardinal Deacon of St. Agatha of Goti
Cardinal Spidlik was born on 17 December 1919 in Boskovice (Czech Republic).
He began his studies for the priesthood in Brno in 1938 before the Nazis closed the universities in 1939. He entered the Jesuit novitiate near Prague and then when it was transferred to Monravia in 1942. He took his vows on 24 September 1942 and finished his studies over the following years.
He was ordained in Maastricht (Netherlands) on 22 August 1949. He was then called to Rome to work at Vatican Radio in the programmes broadcast behind the Iron Curtain.
He was spiritual director at the Pontifical Nepomuceno Seminary for 38 years.
The American Bibliographical Institute named him "Man of the Year" in 1990 and the next year "Most Admired Person of the Decade". He was awarded honorary citizenship of Uh Brod (Czech Republic) and Troyes (France).
He preached the Spiritual Exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia in March 1995, encouraging the Holy Father to write Ut Unum Sint, his encyclical on ecumenism.
He is one of the greatest authorities on Eastern theology and spirituality.
In 1998, Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic, awarded him the medal of the Order of Masaryk, one of the Republic's highest honours.
The Holy Father elevated him to the College of Cardinals on 21 October 2003 and excused him from receiving episcopal consecration. He was given the deaconry of Santa Agata de' Goti.