Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Blessed Juan de Palafox, Archbishop and Viceroy (1600-1659)

On June 5, Cardinal Angelo Amato will beatify Juan de Palafox in El Burgo de Osma, Soria, Spain. Palafox was a statesman and priest who was born in the year 1600 in Navarre, Spain. His parents abandoned him at birth, but thanks to his self-determination and intelligence he became viceroy of Mexico.

The Postulator of his cause for beatification, Father Moriones says, "Before becoming an ordained priest, he was a  fiscal counselor of war. Once he became a priest he asked the King to remove him from that council, which always dealt with violence. Instead he wanted to serve in a job that was more peaceful. He was assigned to work with the Indian Concil. There he would monitor all missions in America, defending the rights of the Indians and serving the needs of dioceses that were somewhat far.”

In Mexico, he would spend six months with the diocese and another six months working in   matters of the royal kingdom. During that time, the future viceroy improved the economy and brought seemingly forgotten cases to trial.  As  a bishop he united several priests, improved their training and completed the construction of the cathedral.

He died in El Burgo de Osma in 1653. Thirteen years later, when his beatification process began, his body was incorrupt.

On February 26, 2009 the Vatican recognized the miraculous healing of a priest, who was cured through the intercession of Juan de Palafox. On February 8th, 2010, pope Benedict XVI, approved his beatification.


Benedict XVI recalled the saintly qualities of Blessed Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, noting that the 17th-century Spanish bishop was not only profoundly spiritual, but also a "tireless pastor and defender of the Indians."

At the end of a public Mass in Zagreb, Croatia, where he was celebrating the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, the Pope sent a greeting in Spanish to those who were celebrating the beatification of Bishop Palafox in Burgo de Osma, Spain.

Juan Palafox was born in Fitero, Spain, in 1600, and in 1639 he was appointed bishop of Tlaxcala, Mexico (currently the Archdiocese of Puebla). He was characterized as a reformer who sought to protect the indigenous peoples from mistreatment.

For a period of a few months in 1642 he was the archbishop of Mexico City and the viceroy of New Spain. In 1653, he returned to Spain as the bishop of Osma (currently the Diocese of Osma-Soria), and he remained there until his death in 1659.

The Pontiff described Bishop Juan de Palafox as a "an outstanding bishop of seventeenth-century Mexico and Spain," and "a man of vast culture and profound spirituality."

He added that the prelate was "a great reformer, a tireless pastor and defender of the Indians."

"May the Lord grant to his Church many holy pastors like Blessed Juan," said the Pontiff.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, presided at the beatification ceremony, which was attended by some 3,000 faithful, 200 priests and 30 bishops.

Among those present included Archbishop Victor Sánchez Espinosa of Puebla, Mexico, and Archbishop Renzo Fratini, the apostolic nuncio in Spain.

At the beginning of the beatification ceremony, Bishop Gerardo Melgar Viciosa of Osma-Soria highlighted Bishop Palafox's "generosity" with the poor, and the indelible mark he left on the diocese.

Cardinal Amato recalled in his homily that Bishop Palafox was a holy man whose pastoral zeal consisted essentially "in extirpating evil and planting what is holy and good."

"In his life he experienced the glory of the loftiest offices and the humiliation of disgrace and isolation, which he accepted with heroic faith and an authentic Christian spirit," the cardinal added.

The bishop's process of beatification was opened in 1726, but was suspended in 1777.

Under Pope John Paul II, the bishop's cause was resumed in 2003, and in 2009 the Vatican recognized the bishop's heroic virtue. In 2010, the Vatican attributed the miraculous cure of Father Lucas Fernandez de Pinedo of tuberculosis to the intercession of Bishop Palafox.

On June 22, the relics of the newly blessed will arrive in Mexico and be venerated in Mexico City, San Miguel del Milagro, Tlaxcala and Puebla.