Fray Leopoldo

13 09 2010

Yesterday was the beatification of Alpandeire’s Leopoldo Sánchez Márquez de Alpandeire. It’s a mouthful, but he’s a Friar of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, and Spain’s newest saint.

Fray Leopoldo, was born in Ronda in 1864 and died in Granada in 1956. At 35, he travelled to Sevilla and joined the Capuchin Order and was sent to Granada with his begging bag to live a life of poverty caring for others and offering to pray for any who needed it. For 49 years the friar wandered the streets of Granada asking only ‘Three Hail Marys’ for his labours and prayers, and even as an old man he still kept at his vows.

“During his lifetime the friar was not known for performing miracles”, Archbishop Amato was quoted as saying, “in fact he diligently performed the monotonous small chores each day as if it was the first time ever”.

They say it for this reason that he was elevated to be a candidate although the recognition of sainthood requires a miraculous event, in this case, the inexplicable curing of a Puerto Rican woman, Lleana Martinez, of Lupus after her priest prayed for help from Fray Leopoldo whilst administering the last rites.

With the reading of an ‘apostolic’ letter issued by Pope Benedict XVI, he was pronounced beatified.

They are estimating that between 60 000 and double that attended the beatification ceremony. That’s a huge number…! I was watching some interviews with individuals who were there:

  • One woman in a wheelchair said she’ throw herself out of the chair (maybe Pool a Bethesda John-5-style)
  • Another lady, with palsy said she was very happy and not in need of healing but had come to pray for those less fortunate.
  • A whole family had turned up with the face of their grandma on sticks which they were holding over their faces – they’d all come in her place because she was too ill to come for her own sake.

We talk about Spain moving away from Catholicism and recognizing the same apathy that sweeps across western Europe – but there is this incredible fervor for the spirituality of Catholicism that moves hundreds of thousands.



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