Abbot Joaquim de Arruda Zamith, O.S.B., was born in Campinas, state of São Paulo, Brazil, on July 28, 1924. His family was originally from Amparo, also in the state of São Paulo, and his parents were Dr. Uberto de Siqueira Zamith and Mrs. Collatina de Azevedo Arruda Zamith. He completed Elementary School at Externato Assis Pacheco and High School at Colégio de São Bento de São Paulo.
As he prepared for undergraduate studies at Escola Politécnica, he joined the Catholic University Youth Movement (JUC). However, after discerning a monastic vocation, he entered São Bento Monastery in São Paulo in February 1945, studying philosophy and theology at the Theological School of the Benedictine Congregation of Brazil which, at the time, was located at São Bento Monastery in Rio de Janeiro.
When World War II began, in spite of being a religious order monk, Abbot Joaquim was required to undergo military training, an experience that made a profound impact on him and of which he took advantage throughout his life.
Abbot Joaquim professed solemn vows on March 29, 1948, and was ordained to the priesthood on December 23, 1950. Soon after his ordination, Abbot Joaquim was sent to further his studies at the Pontifical Institute Athenaeum at Sant’ Anselmo, where he received a doctorate in June 1955. Through his experience at Sant’ Anselmo, Abbot Joaquim developed an appreciation for other cultures and great pleasure in traveling and visiting other countries, something he did with obvious joy throughout his life whenever his vocational commitments permitted.
After completion of his doctorate, Abbot Joaquim returned to his monastery and taught philosophy for fourteen years at the Philosophical Institute at São Bento Monastery in São Paulo.
In 1969, he was appointed prior by Abbot Tito Marchese, O.S.B. In 1974, he was elected abbot by the Community of São Bento Monastery in São Paulo and held this office until January 1989.
Between 1989 and 1996, Abbot Joaquim received permission to preach retreats and teach courses on monastic spirituality and Sacred Scripture in many monasteries of men and women of the Benedictine Congregation of Brazil, as well as in monasteries of other congregations and in dioceses throughout Brazil. His influence can still be noticed on those who had the privilege of participating in his spiritual conferences and courses.
During the General Chapter of 1996, Abbot Joaquim was elected abbot president of the Benedictine Congregation of Brazil, an office he held until the completion of the mandated six-year period in 2002.
Since 2002, Abbot Joaquim resided at São Bento Priory in Vinhedo, São Paulo, Brazil, where he taught the monks in formation and assisted with the pastoral activities of the community. On April 9, 2005, Abbot Joaquim transferred his stability to Saint Vincent Archabbey and the American-Cassinese Congregation, expressing a desire to live his remaining years closer to his roots.
At São Bento Priory in Vinhedo, Abbot Joaquim lived a simple life, giving witness to an exemplary faithfulness to the celebration of Divine Office and the Eucharist. His piety was visible and inspiring. He also continued his mission of preaching the Gospel, giving retreats to many deacons, priests, bishops, religious order men and women, and the laity. His intellectual and spiritual activities never diminished, and on the eve of the stroke that would take his life, being very weakened by the chronic leukemia with which he had been diagnosed, Abbot Joaquim gave an impromptu and brilliant conference to a friend who had come to visit him.
Abbot Joaquim enjoyed sharing texts and reading references to everyone with whom he came in contact. He was also a discreet and very generous shepherd to the people of the region assisted by the monks of São Bento Priory. He took part in the monastic life of the community with a jovial spirit. His presence always proved to be constructive and inspiring.
Abbot Joaquim died on November 10, 2014, after being consoled by the reception of the sacraments and the prayers of the community of São Bento Priory.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Campinas, the Most Rev. Airton José dos Santos, D.D., on November 12. Interment followed in the monastic cemetery.