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Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Strong One

Perhaps most Catholics do not know that we have a gypsy saint. Now, gypsies are a separate group of people from Europeans, a group which originated in India and began migrating into Europe around 600 A. D. Gypsies, or Romanies, may be found in most countries in Europe, in Brazil, America, Africa and many other places.

A people who have their own language with many dialects, and a wandering people, who endured slavery, as well as genocidal laws, the Romani were granted a patron saint by St. John Paul II in 1997.

As a person who has stayed in Walsingham  many times, and for months, I have come across the Romani, who, when I was there, came in hundreds around and for the feast of the Assumption. Stark reminders of a subculture of stealing meant that many shops closed for the day, at least, and the police went door to door giving us numbers to phone in case of emergency.

I had a few encounters with the Romani when I was in Walsingham, mostly from a Roma (male gypsy) who wanted to buy a life-sized statue of St. Therese of Lisieux for hundreds of dollars cash he happened to have. This statue was in the window of the b and b where I was staying.

Years before, some Romani women had taken a large doily from underneath another huge statue, this time one of Our Lady, when they came into the b and b to pray. How they manage to lift this statue up and take what, I assume, they thought was some type of holy relic, defies the imagination.

But, for many years, these people, the good and the bad, have had their own saint, Ceferino Giménez Malla, a holy man from Spain, killed by the Republicans, who hated and persecuted the Church, before and during the Spanish Civil War. Ceferino, a catechist, tried to save a Catholic priest. Both were arrested and Ceferino, with other Catholics, was finally shot on August 9th, in 1936. Ceferino is a Blessed. He is pictured and sculpted with a rosary in his hand, which he called his "weapon", and which he was clutching when he was killed. BTW, he was a Third Order Franciscan.

Blessed Ceferino reminds us all that no matter how lowly, we may be called to martyrdom. May he intercede for his people, so many who are pagans and worship false gods, as well as being into the occult. May Blessed Ceferino be invoked as a true saint for our time. His pet name is The Strong One, El Pele.

Here is an old article on his beatification from the NY