The Juan Alejo de Arizmendi Institute of Historic Studies is a research and study center focused on the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico. It is the result of activities surrounding the celebration of 500 years of the evangelization of Puerto Rico. The Catholic Church in Puerto Rico has been part of the church’s history in Latin America and the Caribbean and there is still an incomplete understanding of its history. The Arizmendi Institute responds to the need for reflection, research, and dissemination needed to understand the Church´s impact as an institution and as a community of believers. Puerto Rico lacks forums for dialogues, movements or manifestos that allow Catholics to disseminate their thoughts. Like the archives, the Arizmendi Institute does the work of safeguarding important research documents. But it also encourages and promotes academic research about the issue of the Church in Puerto Rico and it provides advice, tutoring, and seminars for students who are researching their theses.

The Arizmendi Institute currently has the General Vicarage archives and plans to acquire the archives of the churches of Isabela, Yauco, Bayamón, Cataño, and Comerío. It also expects the documents of the Dutch Dominicans and the General Archives of the Order of Preachers of Santa Sabina in Rome. It receives support from various research centers and archives in Puerto Rico and works in collaboration with the P. Martin J. Berntsen Library, the Order of Dominican Brothers of Puerto Rico, the Center for Dominican Studies in the Caribbean and the Central University of Bayamón. Currently, it is in charge of preparing the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico from 1493 to 2000. As a preamble to that project, the book Pastors, Teachers and Prophets: The Bishops of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, 1511-2000 was published in 1999.

The Arizmendi Institute is a project that intends to make great contributions to the study of Puerto Rican culture, mainly in the area of religious history.It pursues initiatives of interest to many religious leaders, historians and students who are attracted to the Institute for its understanding of the development of Puerto Rican Catholicism and the Puerto Rican people.

Author: Mario Rodríguez León
Published: January 28, 2016.

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