Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Monday 22 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Ndoc Suma
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Meet the patrons of the Panama World Youth Day



Larry Peterson - published on 02/27/18

Six of the 8 were from or ministered in Latin America

There are eight patrons for the January 2019 World Youth Day in Panama: six saints and two blessed who will be invoked for the event:

They are: St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, Blessed Oscar Romero, Blessed Maria Romero Meneses, St. John Bosco and Pope St. John Paul II, as well asSt. Martin de Porres of Peru;St. Rose of Lima; and St. Juan Diego of Mexico who was visited by Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Here are brief profiles of these holy patrons:

St. Jose Sanchez del Rio was born on March 28, 1913, in Sahuayo, Michoacan, Mexico. In 1926 the Cristero War broke out, as the anti-Catholic government attempted to close churches and make the faith basically illegal. Jose’s older brothers joined the rebel Cristero forces to fight against the laws.

Jose wanted to join the Cristeros, but since he was only 13 his mother refused his request. It mattered not. On February 5, 1928, Jose was captured by government soldiers and imprisoned in a church sacristy.

After five days of  beatings and torture, Jose had still refused to denounce his Lord and his faith. The soldiers, showing no mercy, cut the soles of the teen’s feet and then made him walk to the nearby cemetery. The pain must have been horrendous. Arriving at the cemetery, Jose Sanchez del Rio shouted out, “Long live Christ the King!” The soldiers promptly shot the 14-year-old to death.

He was canonized October 16, 2016.  

Blessed Oscar Romero was born in El Salvador on August 15, 1917. He was one of eight children and when he began school the only grades available were one through three. But his intelligence was obvious and a friend of the family who was a teacher, Anita Iglesias, began tutoring Oscar. His thoughts of becoming a priest began to blossom.

Romero entered a minor seminary when he was 13. He had to leave after three months to help take care of his mom who was ill after giving birth to her eighth child. Upon returning to school, he managed to enter the National Seminary in San Salvador. He had such a keen mind he was able to finish his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood April 4, 1942.

Father Romero began his ministry as a parish priest in Anamoros and then San Miguel where he worked for more than 20 years with groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1970, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop for San Salvador, and in 1977 was appointed archbishop.

On March 23, 1980, Archbishop Romero gave a homily asking Salvadoran soldiers to obey God’s law over government orders to take life. The next evening, while saying Mass in a hospital chapel, he was gunned down by assassins.

Some 250,000 people attended Archbishop Romero’s funeral. He was beatified on May 23, 2015.

Read more:
Oscar Romero Inspiration Behind Matt Maher’s “A Future Not My Own”

Blessed Maria Romero Meneses is considered a social reformer who brought about a “revolution of charity” in Costa Rica. When Maria was 12 years old, she became ill with rheumatic fever. She was paralyzed for almost six months, and it took her almost a year to regain her health.

She prayed to Our Lady, Help of Christians. Doctors said that her heart was damaged, but she told a friend, “I know the Blessed Virgin will cure me.” Within a few days, Maria had fully recovered and returned to school.

Assigned a spiritual advisor to help her sort through the mystical experiences she was having, Maria realized that a religious calling was for her. Naturally, she became a member of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians. Her time as a novitiate was spent in El Salvador. She made her final vows in 1929 in Nicaragua. She had written that she was going to live a spiritual life modeled after St. John Bosco.

In 1931 she was sent to Costa Rica where she worked in poor neighborhoods teaching the faith and life-skills to the people to help them get jobs. She organized food distribution centers, recreation centers, schools for the poor and medical clinics. She even started the Centro San Jose, a development of homes for poor people.

Maria Romero Meneses died from heart failure on July 7, 1977. She was beatified by St. John Paul II on April 14, 2002.

St. John Bosco was born August 16, 1815. His father died when he was just 2 years old, and his mother had to struggle to take care of her three boys. However, she never wavered in teaching the faith and the message of the Gospel to her sons.

When young John was 9 years old, he had a dream which called him to dedicate himself to the education of young people. As soon as he was old enough, he began to put his life’s work into practice. It began with love and kindness and was based on reason. This would be the foundation for the Salesians (The Society of St. Francis de Sales).

Ordained a priest in 1841, Father John Bosco chose as his life’s devotion a saying based on Genesis 14:21, “Give me the souls, take all the rest.” And so he began to have young people meet Christ. Father John Bosco’s constant union with God and his unyielding confidence in Mary has been the catalyst that has proven to be the saving grace for thousands upon thousands of young people over the years.

St. John Bosco was canonized a saint April 1, 1934, by Pope Pius XI.

Pope St. John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland. He became the second longest-serving pope in modern history, serving from 1978 to 2005. (The longest-serving pope after St. Peter was Pope Pius IX).


Read more:
Longest reigning pope (after St. Peter) might soon be canonized

One of the most traveled popes in history and the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years, Pope St. John Paul II was a vocal advocate for human rights, is recognized as having helped end Communist rule in Poland and eventually all of Europe, and improved Catholic relations with other Christians and those of other faiths.

Today, many call him Pope St. John Paul the Great, although that title is not yet official. The Holy Father was canonized on April 27, 2014.

St. Rose of Lima was born as Isabel Flores de Oliva in Lima, Peru, on April 20, 1586. She had exceptional beauty, and some said her face was as beautiful as a rose, and she became known by this name from the time of her confirmation.

Rose was extremely spiritual and practiced self-denial and self-mortification on an almost daily basis. She modeled her life after St. Catherine of Siena and developed great devotion to Jesus, present  in the Blessed Sacrament. She had a great affinity for the poor and marginalized and did her best to help as many of them as she could.

Towards the end of her life, while ill, she was able to pray, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Thy love in my heart.” This remarkable woman died on August 25, 1617, at the age of 31. She was canonized a saint on April 12, 1671, by Pope Clement X.

Read more:
Who will take the pope’s new road to canonization — offering one’s life?

St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579, seven years before St. Rose. Martin grew into a man filled with compassion for the sick and suffering. He became a barber, worked as a farm laborer and an almoner (one who distributes alms).

Though of mixed blood, Martin was able to enter the Dominican clergy in 1601. Already known for his acts of self-denial and personal sacrifice he was also gifted with the ability to cure the sick. He founded a residence for orphans and abandoned children. He set up shelters for stray dogs and cats and nursed them back to health. He led a very austere life and fasted every day. He also had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

Martin de Porres died in Lima on November 3, 1639.  He was canonized a saint on May 6, 1962, by Pope St. John XXIII. He is the first black saint from the Americas.

St. Juan Diego was born in 1474 into the Chichimeca tribe in an area that is now Mexico City. It was on December 9, 1531, when he was 57 years old when the Blessed Mother appeared to Juan at Tepeyac Hill and asked for a shrine to be built there.

Our Lady asked him to pick the fresh flowers growing on the hill and bring them to the bishop as proof of her appearance. Even though it was winter, he managed to fill his tilma (cloak) with fresh flowers and did as he had been asked. Upon opening his tilma in front of the bishop, the flowers fell out revealing a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

With the bishop’s permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was kept for veneration. He cared for the little church until he died  in 1548.

Juan Diego was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II on July 31, 2002.


World Youth Day 2019, in Panama City, Panama, has been entrusted to eight highly qualified heavenly chaperones. It is certain to be a huge success.

US saints

Read more:
List of Saints from the United States of America

SaintsWorld Youth Day
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.