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Saint of the Day: Bl. Faustino Villanueva y Villanueva

Missionary Priest martyred in Guatemala

COMMUNION OF SAINTS

© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro | CC BY-SA 4.0

Priest and Martyr (1931-1980)

His life

+ Faustino was born in Yesa, Navarra, Spain, in 1931.

+ He entered the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1956. Faustino spent the first years of his ministry as a seminary instructor and, later, as novice master for his province.

+ In 1959, he was sent to his community’s missions in Quiché, Guatemala. For the next 21 years, he served as pastor of several parishes and, like other Missionaries of the Sacred Heart serving in the region, he was a staunch advocate for the rights of the indigenous peoples.

+ Between 1960 and 1996 more than 200,000 Guatemalans (including priests and religious) were killed in the conflicts between the military regime and opposition groups. Father Faustino and others found themselves standing in opposition to the government’s oppressive policies because of their commitment to the work of justice and their courageous pastoral ministry.

+ Having celebrated Mass on the evening of July 10, 1981, Faustino was shot to death by two unknown assailants in the parish rectory.

+ Blessed Faustino Villenueva was beatified on April 23, 2021, with two other priests of his community and seven lay catechists, including Blessed Juan (Juanito) Barrera Méndez, who was just 12 years of age. They are honored collectively as the Martyrs of El Quiché.

For prayer and reflection

Animated by their faith in Christ, they were heroic witnesses of justice and love. May their example make us more generous and courageous in living the Gospel.”—Pope Francis reflecting on the Martyrs of El Quiché

Spiritual bonus

On this day we also remember Blessed Nicholas Spira, abbot of the Norbertine monastery in Grimbergen, Flanders (modern-day Belgium). Known for his devotion to the Eucharist and the Liturgy the Hours, he died on July 10, 1568.

Prayer

We humbly beseech the mercy of your majesty, almighty and merciful God, that, as you have poured the knowledge of your Only Begotten Son into the hearts of the peoples by the preaching of the blessed Martyrs Faustino and his companions, so, through their intercession, we may be made steadfast in the faith. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For Several Missionary Martyrs)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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