Forty years of close contact with his master, model and guide make Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP, the most authoritative voice to speak on the achievements, virtues and thought of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.
On August 15, 1939, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, João Scognamiglio Clá Dias was born in São Paulo, Brazil.
Praying at night, he glimpsed a silhouette
When he reached adolescence, he was dismayed to find how many people allowed themselves to become enslaved by egoism, and acted in the exclusive pursuit of their own interests. But, deep inside, a voice born of faith said: “There must be a completely good and disinterested man in this world. He is on my path, and one day I will meet him.” With this in mind, he would kneel at the end of his bed every night, with tears in his eyes, praying numerous Hail Marys, asking that the day would soon come when he would meet this personage—whose silhouette he had glimpsed by a singular favour from Heaven. From his very first encounter with Dr. Plinio, his mentality was fused with that of his master. He made the immediate resolution to abandon everything to serve God in the person of this man.
“No one has given me so many or such great joys”
By participating, in a high degree, in Dr. Plinio’s gift of wisdom—so characteristic of his spirituality—, he became Dr. Plinio’s disciple par excellence. The always-impeccable conduct of young João, and the valour and fidelity that marked his endeavours resulted in his being qualified by Dr. Plinio as the “staff of my old age,” “golden aide”, and “blessed instrument”. “Justice demands that I say it: no one has given me so many or such great joys”, wrote Dr. Plinio on one occasion. A strong, intimate, and unique supernatural link was established between master and disciple. The latter, more than a follower or mere spiritual son, was considered by the former as his alter ego — his “other I”.
Devotion to Dona Lucilia
Lucilia Ribeiro dos Santos Corrêa de Oliveira, Dr. Plinio’s mother and a lady of exceptional goodness, also had a profound impact on his life, and the biography he wrote on her was published in 2013 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana in four languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. For Msgr. João, she was the “guardian angel” who would heighten his understanding of the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.