Monsignor José Restrepo Posada died in Bogotá on November 28, 1972. A native of Bogotá, Monsignor Restrepo was the descendant of several distinguished Colombian historians, including his great-great grandfather, José Manuel Restrepo (1781-1863), and the monsignor’s father, Dr. José María Restrepo Sáenz (1880-1949).
One of Monsignor Restrepo’s various important contributions to Colombian history was his work in preserving, completing and bringing to light the works and papers of these illustrious ancestors. Monsignor Restrepo kept intact the invaluable archive of José Manuel Restrepo—containing irreplaceable papers on the late colonial Enlightenment and on the social, economic and political history of the first half of the nineteenth century—and graciously made them available to other scholars, both Colombian and foreign. He was largely responsible for the publication of José Manuel Restrepo’s important, but previously unpublished, Diario político y militar (4 vols., Bogotá, 1954), as well as that historian’s Autobiografía (Bogotá, 1957), Historia de la Nueva Granada, 1832-1854 (2 vols., Bogotá 1952-63), and compilation of Documentos importantes de Nueva Granada, Venezuela y Colombia (2 vols., Bogotá, 1969-70). Monsignor Restrepo also worked to complete several major reference works initiated by his father. He completed and published volume II of Gobernadores de Antioquia (Bogotá, 1970). In 1928 José María Restrepo Sáenz, with Raimundo Rivas, published volume I of the indispensable Genealogias de Santafé de Bogotá, which covers surnames beginning with letters A through F. At the time of his death, Monsignor Restrepo, with the collaboration of Monsignor Bernardo Sanz de Santamaría, was completing work on volume II (covering letters G through M).
Following in the footsteps of his father, Monsignor Restrepo’s own publications were primarily of a biographical character. His chief works were Arquidiócesis de Bogotá: datos biográficos de sus prelados (3 vols., Bogotá, 1961-66), covering the prelates of 1564 to 1891 (a fourth volume, extending the work to 1950, remains in manuscript) and his Arquidiócesis de Bogotá; cabildo eclesiástico (Bogotá, 1971). This last work provides capsule biographies of the 315 canons who have served in the Cathedral Chapter since 1550.
While ardently pursuing his work in biography and genealogy, Monsignor Restrepo also was a respected church administrator, serving as Chancellor of the Bogotá archdiocese; as secretary successively to Archbishop Ismael Perdomo, Cardinal Crisanto Luque, and Cardinal Luis Concha; and, in the last year of his life, as Dean of the Cathedral of Bogotá. His many American friends regret the passing of a generous and helpful colleague.