Don Julio Arribas Salaberri  (by Guillermo)


The Michael Servetus Institute is the project of a visionary. Before its creation in 1976, there was not any organization in Spain aimed at promoting and coordinating scientific research on Servetian studies.

Mr. Julio Arribas Salaberri was a man who used his passion for Aragón to overcome the stereotypes associated with Aragonian culture (mostly related to regional dancing and a traditional red or purple checked scarf worn on the head). The most evident manifestation of this passion was the creation of the Michael Servetus Institute.

Like other great figures of the Aragonian culture, he was born in a little town, Apiés (1911), in the Huesca Province. He studied first in the "Escuelas Pías" of Zaragoza, and thereafter in the Commerce School of Zaragoza where he was granted the degree of Mercantile Professor. He also graduated from the School of High Mercantile Studies in Barcelona.

He spent the first years of his professional life in the Huesca Province, in which he was the secretary general of the city councils of Bolea and de Villanueva de Sijena, and the Finances Director in the city council of Jaca and in the Provincial Administration of Huesca. In 1942 he was appointed Finances Director of the Provincial Administration of Lérida, a city located 75 km. from Villanueva de Sijena. He lived and developed his career in this city until his retirement. While being in the local administration, he modernized it, enhancing the services rendered to citizens and speeding up the administrative tasks. En 1971, he was appointed as a member of the Studies Institute of Lérida, where he developed a meritorious research activity .

Arribas was a man of tremendous work capacity and a controversial, passionate and progressive personality, which resulted in some misunderstandings and enmities. Nonetheless, the main feature of his personality was generosity. Only by taking into account his generosity can we understand his intense and valuable task during the years he headed up the Institute.

Mr. Arribas served as a catalyzer and coordinator of Servetian studies in Spain which at that time remained very scarce, spread out and based on an anecdotic knowledge (hence superficial) of Servetus' legacy. It must be stated without exaggeration that Arribas is responsible, along with Professors José Barón Fernández and Angel Alcalá Galve, for the evolution in Spain from anecdotic Servetism to scientific Servetism. In addition, his activities heading up the Institute marked a turning point in the internationalization of Servetian studies in Spain As he used to say: "I am attempting to bring together all the Servetians around this Aragonian entity".

Equally important to his work regarding Servetus was his personal battle to defend the heritage of the Sixena Monastery. Mr. Arribas was, through his newly created Institute, one of the first intellectuals to petition the restoration of the Monastery of Sijena and to firmly denounce the lack of will of the authorities towards Sixena's ruins.

He died on April 22, 1984, after fighting against a long disease. He was buried in Huerto, a little town located 30 miles from Villanueva de Sijena.

To learn more about Julio Arribas Salaberri, you may want to consult the book which was edited in his honor by the Ateneo de Zaragoza and the Michael Servetus Institute: “D. Julio Arribas (1911 - 1984)”.

Written and translated by Sergio Baches Opi

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