Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Gypsy Saint

 From Zenit:
BARBASTRO, Spain, MAY 11, 2011 ( The Catholic Romani community worldwide celebrated Blessed Ceferino Jiménez Malla -- known popularly as "El Pele" -- with the 7th International Pilgrimage of the Gypsy People. The pilgrimage held Sunday marked the 75th anniversary of his martyrdom in 1936 in defense of the faith. Moreover, this year marks the 150th anniversary of his birth. Blessed Ceferino was born in Benavent de Sagria, although he passed the greater part of his life in Barbastro.

Bishop Ciriaco Benavente of Albacete, Spain, president of the that country's episcopal migrations commission, presided over ceremonies. He stated that "Blessed Ceferino is a glory of the Church and for the gypsy ethnic" community.

In his homily, the prelate pointed out "the increase in devotion to the blessed throughout the world." He stressed "the values of the first gypsy -- beatified by John Paul II -- who found God from market to market and was a servant of the Church in nocturnal adoration, in St. Vincent conferences and as a Franciscan tertiary."

"He has been the glory of a people mistreated by history, on which so many stereotypes have fallen," Bishop Benavente said. "The blessed arose from these people and he fills us with joy and pride."
"He has stolen our hearts because he showed solidarity with all his brothers," he noted.
More HERE. To quote:
He had little education, and was possibly illiterate, but his native intelligence was obvious to all who knew him, and he was known for his love of nature. Baptised into the Church as an adult. Married to Teresa Jimenez Castro in 1912 at age 51. Adoptive father of his niece Pepita. He became a mule-trader around 1920, and did so well he was able to settle in the town of Barbastro as a successful businessman. Widower in 1922. City councilman in Barbastro. Catechist, Eucharistic minister, choir director and rosary leader, Ceferino developed a reputation for holiness, and people would be on their best behavior around him. Advisor to his bishop. Dominican tertiary in 1926. A Gitano (Spanish Gypsy), he worked to improve relations between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. He was arrested during the persecutions of the Spanish Civil War for hiding priests. He was offered his freedom if he would renounce his faith and throw away his rosary; he declined.

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