+ Rafael was born to a pious family in Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico, and was ordained a priest in 1901. He quickly became a popular mission preacher and traveled throughout Mexico.
+ Only two years after his ordination, he founded the Congregation of Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope and he used his family’s money to establish a school for poor girls and two colleges for boys.
+ In 1911, during a wave of religious persecution by the government, his missionary congregation was dissolved and he was forbidden to continue his missionary work. He defied the order and traveled throughout the country, disguised as a traveling merchant or musician, minister where he could.
+ The government condemned Rafael to death for his opposition to their decrees and he was forced to flee Mexico, coming first to the United States, and then moving to Guatemala and Cuba.
+ In 1919, he was named bishop of Veracruz-Xalapa.
+ In 1923, Rafael became a member of the Knights of Columbus.
+ As the persecution escalated, Bishop Rafael dedicated the remainder of his life to wholehearted defense of the rights of the Church.
+ Saint Rafael Guízar y Valencia died on June 6, 1938, and was canonized in 2006.
“This is the steward, faithful and prudent, whom the Lord set over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time.”—Entrance Antiphon from the Mass for the Common of Pastors
Almighty and eternal God, who gave your holy Church blessed Rafael as Bishop, grant that what he taught when moved by the divine Spirit may always stay firm in our hearts; and as by your gift we embrace him as our patron, may we also have him as our defender to entreat your mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Bishop)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.