Rafael Guizar y Valencia (1878-1938)
This heroic priest was hunted in Mexico during the persecution of the Church . . .
Feast Day: June 6
Canonized: October 15, 2006
A bold defender of the Church, Rafael Guizar y Valencia became a top target of anti-Catholic zealots when the Mexican Revolution began in 1910. To escape arrest, he took to donning different disguises, including junk dealer, doctor, and musician.
When the government ordered he be shot on sight, he escaped to the U.S. in 1915. He then served in Guatemala and Cuba, and was consecrated bishop of Veracruz, Mexico. After the Revolution, he returned in 1920 and joined the Knights of Columbus Council in Veracruz. Friendships with U.S. Knights proved beneficial to the Church in Mexico.
The regime was still anti-Church, so he founded a clandestine seminary, noting: “A bishop can do without a mitre, a crosier, and even a cathedral, but never without a seminary, because the future of his diocese depends on the seminary.”
Forced to flee Mexico again in 1927, he returned in 1929 after the Church and government reached an accord encouraged by the U.S. due to Knights’ lobbying efforts. He served as bishop until his death of natural causes. For his special attention to the material and spiritual poverty of his flock, he is called “bishop of the poor.”
MATTHEW A RAREY is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.