Pablo Hidalgo was given a dispensation to join the Discalced Carmelites, fulfilling his last wish. Pope Francis received a letter from him after his death.
Pablo Alonso Hidalgo was close to death at 21 years of age. However, he was able to fulfill his dream of becoming a Carmelite on Wednesday, June 21, less than a month before his death on July 15.
“It is my desire to consecrate myself to God and live giving myself to Jesus Christ. My illness is going fast. From God we come and to God we go. The Father in his infinite mercy will call me soon to be with Him,” he said, according to the Spanish Carmelite website.
Granted his wish
Pablo was an ordinary young man, studying Computer Engineering at the Pontifical University of Salamanca. He participated in various Christian groups, such as the Neocatechumenal Way, Hakuna, Effetá and Opus Dei. However, after he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma six years ago, he felt God’s call to the consecrated life. His dream was to become a Discalced Carmelite, following the example of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.
Thanks to a special dispensation, he was admitted to religious profession without the usual full period of preparation because of his imminent death. He became Br. Pablo María of the Cross.
The celebration of his entrance into the novitiate of the Order of Mount Carmel took place in room 615 of the Salamanca University Hospital. “I can only thank God for this great gift that our Mother the Church is giving me through the Order of Carmel,” he said, adding, “I entrust myself to your prayers.”
The Cross, Glory and Joy
At Pablo’s bedside, Carmelite provincial Fr. Salvador Villota presided over the rite.
Pablo was also accompanied by his parents, his spiritual director, and the novice master. The ceremony was held on the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of youth, under whose intercession the young man’s consecration to God was placed.
His subsequent profession of vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as Br. Pablo María of the Cross was celebrated on Sunday, June 25. The celebration was presided over by the Bishop of Salamanca, José Luis Retana, in the church of El Carmen de Abajo in Salamanca.
He wanted to link his religious name to his Mother in heaven and to Christ crucified because he felt that his only glory was “the cross of Christ.”
Pablo quoted the Carmelite St. Titus Brandsma who said, “The cross is my joy, not my sorrow.” He said that he was giving himself as “a pleasing offering to God,” asking especially for the conversion of young people, for the unity of the Church, and not to fear death.
In spite of the difficulties and medical treatments, Pablo never let himself be overcome by discouragement or despair. On the contrary, he lived his illness with a heroic attitude of dedication and trust in God. According to the Carmelite website, his motto was, “To you, my love, I belong to you alone.” His testimony was a reflection of the love of the crucified and risen Christ.
Death in Christ
Pablo was not afraid of dying, but saw it as a definitive encounter with the Father. “What I want to communicate is how incredibly beautiful death in Christ is, that it’s not something scary, that it’s mind-blowing, and that it’s a taboo that I believe needs to be broken,” he said in an interview. His desire was “to be with Him forever.”
Br. Pablo lived his last hours accompanied by his young friends from the various Catholic groups he participated in, from school, from the University. They accompanied him in a vigil of adoration.
On July 15, he gave his soul to the Father in the Carmelite convent of San Andrés.
His funeral was celebrated on July 17 in the same church where he had professed his vows, with the attendance of hundreds of people who wanted to bid him a last farewell. Bishop José Luis Retana presided at the Eucharist and highlighted Br. Pablo’s holiness and evangelizing mission. “He has been a witness of God’s unconditional love,” he said.
His story has touched thousands of people, who have followed his testimony through social networks and the media. His example has been a source of inspiration and conversion for many young people who accompanied him with their prayers and their presence.
Br. Pablo and Pope Francis
On July 29, 2023, the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Rev. Fr. Míceál O’Neill, O.Carm., officially sent Pope Francis a letter that Br. Pablo María de la Cruz had written to His Holiness. In the letter, Br. Pablo promised to accompany the pontiff at the World Youth Day in Lisbon through his prayers and the dedication of his life. Given the circumstances of his death, we can hope he fulfilled that promise from heaven.