Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 26 January |
Saint of the Day: Sts Timothy and Titus
home iconVoices & Views
line break icon

Heroes of the cloth: Marveling at the stuff our priests are made of

DYING SOLDIER,PRIEST

Hector Rondon | AP Photo

Elizabeth Scalia - published on 11/09/17

Catholic priests are human and fallible, like everyone. But sometimes they're outright heroes.

Several years ago, at her now defunct blog the Crescat, Aleteia’s resident advice columnist Katrina Fernandez found this photo here and marveled at “the stuff our priests are made of!”

4 June 1962. Navy chaplain Luis Padillo was giving last rites to dying soldiers as sniper fire surrounded him. A wounded soldier pulled himself up by clinging to the priest’s cassock, as bullets chewed up the concrete around them. Hector Rondón Lovera, who had to lie flat to avoid getting shot, later said that he was unsure how he managed to take this picture. [See all pictures he took that day]. Norman Rockwell eerily used this photograph as a template for his Southern Justice painting, “Murder in Mississippi.”
DYING SOLDIER,PRIEST
Hector Rondon | AP Photo

I myself am struck by the sense of absolute calm in that image of Fr. Padillo. There is something startlingly grounded there. Unflappable. Daring, even.

United States Navy - Naval Historical Center Online Library

The image brought to mind the “Grunt Padre,” aka Servant of God Vincent Capodanno, who was killed in Vietnam:

Father Capodanno went among the wounded and dying, giving last rites and taking care of his beloved Marines. Always watching out for them, as they watched out for him. Wounded in the face and suffering a severe shrapnel wound that nearly severed his hand, during the epic battle of Dong Son in September 1967, Father Vince moved to help a wounded Marine only yards from an enemy machine gun. Father Capodanno died from a machine gun blast [while] taking care of this young Marine. When his body was recovered, he had 27 bullet wounds.

A priest with weary eyes.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Tags:
PriesthoodSaintsVocations
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
3
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
The 4 Ways to read Scripture every Catholic should know
4
PHILIP RIVERS
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
5
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
6
CONSOLE
Philip Kosloski
What are the spiritual works of mercy?
7
LUPKOW CEMETERY
J-P Mauro
Polish statue of Christ found peeking out of a growing tree
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.