Blessed Manuel Lozano lived 100 years ago, but his message is timeless.
This year we celebrate the 100th birthday of a patron of journalists, Blessed Manuel “Lolo” Lozano Garrido. He suffered from paralysis and blindness but never lost sight of his Lord and Savior. He is an inspiration for all who take pen (keyboard) to paper.
His name was Manuel Lozano Garrido, but everyone called him “Lolo.” He was born in Linares, Spain, on August 9, 1920. One of seven children, his dad died early in life, and his mom was left with the children to care for. When Lolo was 15, his mom also died. He and his brothers and one sister, Lucia, stayed together, with the oldest among them doing their best to provide for the family.
Even in his childhood years, Lolo demonstrated an evident spirituality with a deep love for Jesus. He joined Catholic Action at the age of 11, and from that point on, his love of his faith and what it meant to him was of prime importance. He would be a member of CA his entire life.
When the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, Lolo took it upon himself to secretly bring Holy Communion to the villagers. He was only 16. He continued this secret ministry until he was arrested two years later for being “too Christian.” He had to spend the night of Holy Thursday in a jail cell. But for Lolo, it was easy to do: He had hidden the Eucharist in a small bouquet of flowers and smuggled it into his cell. He spent his Holy Thursday night in adoration in his cell, adoring the Lord who had also spent Holy Thursday in a cell. None of his jailers knew. He was released the next day, Good Friday, and spent Easter with his brothers and sister.
Lolo displayed his talent as a writer from the time he was very young. He loved to read various publications and books of all sorts. The house he and his siblings lived in was located directly across from the parish church. From the balcony, Lolo could get a glimpse of the tabernacle inside the church, and he always faced his Lord when he was reading and writing. The Eucharist was his source of inspiration.
When Lolo was 22 years old, he was attacked by an insidious disease known as spondylitis. A doctor explained by saying, “imagine you have a pin stuck in every millimeter of your skin, and that is not the extent of the suffering. Pain attacks the neck, back, vertebrae and eventually causes paralysis.“ The prognosis was uncertain.
Lolo’s disease began to assault his eyesight. It was only a short time before he was completely blind. The great irony in this is that when his illness disabled him, he became the most productive of his life.
Some reflect that Lolo did not really live 51 years but rather only 28 — because the last 28 years of his life, when he was blind and in a wheelchair, were when he was living his life filled with unmistakable joy. This joy was greatly attributed to the strength of his faith, which he lived out as part of Catholic Action. This is where his faith had been molded and strengthened, helping him to love Jesus and Our Lady more and more every day.
A combination of necessity fortified by vocation resulted in Lolo becoming a journalist, even while shuttered behind the walls of his home. He typed his articles until he could only use one hand. When he could not type with either hand, he recorded his words. Eventually, his sister, Lucia, began taking dictation from him.
During these years, he authored countless newspaper articles and nine books. But most importantly, he was writing a story with his life, about how to live, and how to suffer. He didn’t complain, resisted depression, and refused sadness.
He would reflect:
At the beginning it seemed that suffering would come with the appearance of a reaper. But instead, what it did was sow in hope. As I must be sincere, I tell you that only suffering could have made my human vocation and my spiritual dreams feasible.
Lolo, who had endured severe breathing difficulties from his illness, caught a common cold and died from the complications on November 3, 1971. He was 51 years old.
On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI recognized a miracle attributed to Lolo’s intercession in the cure of a two-year-old child suffering multiple organ failure due to an illness called gram-negative sepsis. On June 12, 2010, Manuel Lozano Garrido was beatified and declared Blessed. He is now recognized as a patron of journalists.