A newly-declared venerable saint who lived in a time of turmoil centuries ago can give us great hope in the coming new year.
Fr. Andrés Garrido Perales, a scholar and a Mercedarian priest who lived in the eighteenth century, was declared venerable by the Vatican on Dec. 13.
Fr. André entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in 1679 and was ordained a priest nine years later. He was recognized by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints as being a person of heroic virtue.
“The War of Spanish Succession and the ideas of the Enlightenment at that time challenged society in many ways,” said Fr. Daniel Bowen, vocation director of the Mercedarian Friars in the U.S. “But Ven. Andrés remained faithful to the Gospel call to preach, teach and show the greatest charity toward others.”
Social upheaval throughout Europe was triggered by the death in 1700 by the childless Charles II of Spain. And the Enlightenment, which gained more and more ground during that time, emphasized reason over tradition. And according to Catholic scholars, the Enlightenment went too far in subjecting religious revelation to scientific inquiry.
Same Mistakes Today
“And aren’t we inheriting the same mistakes and weaknesses today?” Fr. Daniel said. “We have seen great turmoil recently in the change of power from one political party to another. And we are inheriting the same fault of scientism, in which scientific proof is demanded of what is outside the bounds of the material world – namely religious truths.”
“Fr. Andrés shows that we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ and charity toward others no matter how loud the winds of change and disorder around us are,” Fr. Daniel said.
“Fr. Andrés was also a sensitive, penitent soul and very patient with physical sufferings,” said Fr. Daniel. “He never despaired of the conversion of the greatest sinners, and he was always generous with the poor.”
Fr. Andrés was assigned to work in formation for the young recruits in the Order of Mercy in the convent, or house, in Orihuela, Spain, and displayed literary talents and a remarkable charism for bringing the young, professed friars to identify with Jesus Christ. This was an approach that he emphasized as the president of the College of Saint Peter Nolasco, located on the outskirts of the city of Valencia, from 1703 to 1710, which was designed for the theology students of that province.
An eminent preacher in Valencia, he was effective and fervent in his exhortations and was always in demand for important occasions. His leadership qualities were evident in his being named superior of the Order’s houses in Valencia and Játiva.
In 1710, the provincial chapter of El Puig, Spain, granted him the title of “Presentado,” an academic honor indicating that he was a teacher of theology. He was endearingly known by this title among the faithful and his devotees.
In the eighteenth century, at a time when the manner of priests seemed excessively luxuriant, Father Andrés would spend entire days in the confessional without eating. His only interruption was the time he needed to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He used to say: “How could I leave these poor people waiting—in danger of being condemned—to go eat and rest?”
This Mercedarian religious friar and priest already enjoyed an aura of sanctity during his life and over the years many people have been favored by some physical, moral or spiritual grace through his intercession.
Nearly two centuries after his death, as the result in 1942 of the instantaneous cure of Consuelo Baldrés Álvarez, a terminally ill woman, Father Andrés’ reputation spread remarkably anew, which prompted a group of laymen from Vallada to initiate the process for his canonization.
The Archdiocese of Valencia completed the diocesan phase of the canonization process on Oct. 30, 2012. The diocese then sent the documentation to the Holy See, and that the beatification process will continue.
Three Steps to Sainthood
In official Church procedures there are three steps to sainthood: venerable, blessed, and then saint.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops say,
“Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the pope as having lived a heroically virtuous life or offered their life. To be beatified and recognized as a Blessed, one miracle acquired through the candidate's intercession is required in addition to recognition of heroic virtue or offering of life. Canonization requires a second miracle after beatification. The pope may waive these requirements.”
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, also known as the Mercedarians, has its U.S. motherhouse in Philadelphia, and has friars in four states.
Mercedarian Friars USA Facebook page
YouTube video on Fr. Andre Garrido Perales
Archdiocese of Valencia 2012 news story on closing the diocesan case.
War of Spanish Succession.