Science for Man: Inauguration of the new buildings of the Campus Biomedico (March 14, 2008)

The beginnings of the Campus Biomedico University date back to September 1988. In that month, after a trip through various countries of northern Europe, Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo spent a few days in Castello de Urio, in the north of Italy. There he mentioned to those accompanying him an aspiration of St. Josemaría's that had yet to be accomplished: his hope that his Italian sons and daughters would establish a hospital in Rome.

From that time on, some faithful of the Work and Cooperators, with the help of many other people, began to work on this project. During those years of preparatory studies, Don Álvaro encouraged its promoters, proposed guidelines, and offered specific suggestions. Those who, thanks to his impetus, had embarked on the adventure of the “Campus” knew that they were not alone in this enterprise.

A gathering of friends

To reach its present state, the Campus Biomedico has had to overcome a series of stages that at first seemed insuperable: the formation of the doctors, nurses, and administrative and technical people on the staff, the financial cost of the buildings and equipment, the search for students, the complex legal approvals… In the face of each of these goals, Don Álvaro's advice from the beginning (“pray, work, have patience when necessary and don't let yourself be overcome by pessimism”) and the constant dedication of many people have made it possible to attain little by little the targets that were set.

Many of the people who sustained the Campus Biomedico during these years-with their prayers and also with their financial contributions-were present at the inaugural ceremonies of the new facilities, which took place on March 14, 2008. From Verona, for example, two busloads of friends of the “Campus” came for the ceremony. People also came from many other Italian cities with groups of supporters. Their presence represented a large reunion of friends who had shared dreams, joys, struggles and more than a few concerns, now celebrating the happy outcome of their efforts.

Another special note at the inauguration was the presence of many civil authorities: city, regional and national. During the addresses and in personal conversations they expressed their appreciation for the social and formative work that the Campus Biomedico was carrying out for the benefit of many people.

Growth on Via Longoni

In 1993, two years after obtaining official recognition from the Italian Government, the Campus Biomedico University began programs in medicine and nursing. Its provisional site was on Via Longoni, in the working class neighborhood of Prenestino. A year later, in the facilities of a private hospital, the work of the university hospital began, which eventually reached a capacity of one hundred and fifty beds.

In 1999 the programs of dietetics, biomedical engineering, and food and nutrition sciences began. An important help was the advice received from the Hospital of the University of Navarre in regard to the handling of the medical, teaching, administrative and human factors in caring for the sick.

From the beginning, efforts were made to incorporate the teachings of St. Josemaría in the care given to patients. Many of the sick expressed their gratitude for the refinement and spirit of service they found there. Besides receiving adequate medical care, many of them learned at the Campus how to bear their suffering with a Christian outlook.

When the time came to move the Campus to its new site, the people in the Prenestino neighborhood requested that at least the ambulatory clinic be retained at Via Longoni.

The new site in Trigoria

Trigoria is a semi-rural area in the southern part of Rome which is rapidly urbanizing. In the decade of the nineties, the popular Italian actor Alberto Sordi, now deceased, donated a sizable piece of property in this area to the Campus Biomedico.

The new buildings were completed towards the middle of 2007, so that by the end of that year it was possible to relocate the University Hospital and the Center for Advanced Research in Biomedicine and Bioengineering.

The hospital is in the center of the university campus. It includes ambulatory services, a day-care clinic, consulting rooms, a university residence and, in a separate building, the Health Center for the Aged. It has eighteen operating rooms and, when in full operation, can provide beds for four hundred patients. Since last September, classes for the licentiate in medicine and surgery have been offered. The ideal that has animated the project of the Campus from the beginning has been to teach medical science at the service of man and with permanent respect for his dignity.

The Center for Advanced Research in Biomedicine and Bioengineering, two areas of study that are especially important at present, is located close to the university hospital. This proximity fosters the integration of clinical and research activity. It has eighteen laboratories for research in the biomedical field and another ten for bioengineering. Future plans call for three hundred researchers in fields as diverse as robotics, experimental oncology and biotechnology.

March 14: inauguration of the new campus

The day's activities began at nine-thirty in the morning with the inauguration of Álvaro del Portillo Street. Afterwards, Bishop Javier Echevarría, the Prelate of Opus Dei, celebrated Holy Mass in the hospital chapel. During his homily, he encouraged everyone to keep present the motto of this institution: “Science for man.” At the end of the ceremony, the Salve was sung before a painting of our Lady which had been blessed a few days earlier by Pope Benedicts XVI. The Prelate recalled that Pope John Paul II had followed the first steps of the Campus Biomedico with interest and affection, and that his successor is showing it the same solicitous and paternal attention.

A clear sign of this closeness was the presence of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See's Secretary of State, who blessed the buildings and, together with the other civil and religious authorities present, took a tour of the various teaching and hospital areas. The inaugural addresses were given in the large vestibule of the polyclinic. Cardinal Bertone emphasized that, in the face of the challenges currently confronting the human person and life, an ever greater responsibility falls on those who work in the medical fields and are called to Christianize this professional sphere.

The President of Campus Biomedico University, Paolo Arullani, stressed the service to the common good that this institution aspires to carry out. The Prelate of Opus Dei, in his address, recalled some words of Bishop Álvaro del Portillo: “I recommend that you work with a spirit of unity and understanding, with optimism. In that way you will overcome all the obstacles with God's help; you will be happy and—what is more important—you will sanctify yourself and help others to be saints, because you will be practicing the commandment of love.” Others who spoke included the Vice-President of the Government, Francesco Rutelli, the present Undersecretary of the Council of Ministers, Gianni Letta, and the President of the Region of Lazio, Piero Marrazzo.

In the afternoon the ceremonies moved to the Center for Advanced Research in Biomedicine and Bioengineering, where the academic year was inaugurated. The inaugural lecture was given by Professor Joaquin Navarro Valls, who spoke about the importance of a proper anthropological vision in medicine. He concluded by saying that it was only in the context of a Christian culture that a unitive conception of the human person was possible, one that includes both body and spirit.

Romana, No. 46, January-June 2008, p. 138-140.