Saint of the Day – 4 January – St Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (1877–1940) “Apostle of the Abandoned Tabernacles” – Bishop, Founder of the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth and established both the Disciples of Saint John and the Children of Reparation, Apostle of the Holy Eucharist and of Charity, Marian devotee – born on 25 February 1877 at Seville, Spain and died on 4 January 1940 in Madrid, Spain of natural causes. Patronages – Diocese of Palencia, the Children of Reparation, the Disciples of Saint John and the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth.
St Manuel was born in Seville on 25 February 1877. He entered the Minor Seminary of Seville on September of 1889 where he wrote: “If I would be born a thousand times; a thousand times I would be a priest.”
He was ordained by Blessed Cardinal Spínola, the founder of the newspaper “El Correo de Andalucía”, where he worked when he was still a seminarian. On 29 September 1901, he celebrated his first Mass at the Church of the Holy Trinity and entrusted himself to the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians.
Blessed Manuel was sent by the Archbishop of Seville to Palomares del Río, a beautiful and secluded village of Aljarafe but upon his arrival no one came out to meet him. he church was abandoned, filled with dust and dirt, cobwebs inside the tabernacle and torn altar cloths. Upon seeing this situation, he knelt before the altar and thought about the many abandoned tabernacles in the world. This prompted him to start the Children of Reparation.
At the age of 28, he was sent to Huelva where he was saddened to find many children living on the streets. He devoted his attention mainly to assisting these children and founded schools, homes and established classes to catechise them with the help of his parishioners.
On 6 December 1915, Pope Benedict XV appointed Blessed Manuel as auxiliary bishop of Málaga. He celebrated his appointment with a banquet to which he invited, not the authorities but the poorest children of the area. Three thousand children attended the banquet and accompanied him to the Episcopal Palace. He remained there until the night of the 11 May 1931, the proclamation of the Republic, where a revolt expelled him and the Palace was burnt, destroying everything.
On 5 August 1935 he was appointed bishop of Palencia by Pope Pius XI. During a visit to Zaragoza in 1939 he fell seriously ill and had to be transferred to Madrid where he died on the 4 January 1940. Before he died he asked to be buried at the foot of the tabernacle. Fulfilling his wish, he was buried beside the Tabernacle at the main altar of the Cathedral of Palencia.
His heroic virtues were recognised on the 6 April 1998 and he was Beatified by St Pope John Paul II on 29 April 2001. The Beatification miracle involved the healing of Sara Ruiz Ortega, then 18 years old, of tuberculosis peritonitis which had left her paralysed. He was Canonised on 16 October 2016 by Pope Francis. The Canonisation miracle involved the healing of a Galician woman who suffered from aggressive lymphoma.