Saint of the Day – 14 July – Blessed Gaspar de Bono OM (1530– 1604) Priest, Friar of the Order of Minims, Vicar Provincial of the Order. He was noted for his particular devotion to the Passion of Christ, carrying his Crucifix everywhere as a means of evangelisation and to be able to constantly immerse himself in his Saviour’s sufferings. Born as Gaspar de Bonom Mozón on 5 January 1530 in Valencia, Aragon, Spain and died on 14 July 1604 in Valencia of natural causes.
The Roman Martyrology for 14 July states: “At Valencia in Spain, Blessed Gaspar de Bono, a Priest of the Order of Minims, who left the arms of the prince of the world for the militia of Christ the King and for the sake of the house of Order in the Spanish province, who ruled with prudence and charity.“
Gaspar was born on 5 January 1530 in Valencia, the second of the four children of Juan de Bonom who had emigrated from Gascony and his wife, Isabel Juana Manzón (or Monzon), originally from Villa de Cervera in the Province of Lleida. Upon his birth, he was bBaptised at the nearby Church of St Nicolás. Having been born on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, he was named for one of the Biblical Magi.
Gaspar’s parents were very pious and very poor. His father was a linen weaver by trade but when his mother was blinded three years after his birth and became unable to help in the family trade, the father was forced to sell their home and his tools and took work as a grinder and reseller. As a child, he developed a noticeable stammer, a problem from which he suffered his whole life.
At the age of ten,Gaspar began working with a silk merchant but soon realised that his vocation was religious and began to study Latin while continuing to work to help support his family. In about 1545, he was admitted as a candidate to the Dominican Order but, just as he was about to enter their novitiate, he was talked out of this by a brother-in-law, after which he returned home.
At age twenty, Gaspar joined the army of the Emperor Charles V, in search of fortune. He served as a soldier for about ten years but continued to try and live a devout and religious life, by praying, saying the rosary daily, donating to charity and frequenting places of worship. He fought in Lombardy where he was seriously wounded in the head. Left for dead, Gaspar made a promise, if he survived, to enter the Minim Friars, founded by St Francis of Paola.
Gaspar did recover and soon entered the Minim Monastery of St Sebastián in Valencia, which was located a short distance from his family home, receiving the religious habit on 16 June 1560. He professed his religious vows as a member of the Order on 17 June of the following year and was Ordained as a Priest in 1562.
Fr Gaspar soon became known for his virtue and strict compliance with the Rule of Life of the Order. He was available to all the people of the neighbourhood which he knew thoroughly. He was present to comfort his parents in their final hours, his Mother dying on 29 April 1583 and his fFther, a year later. He was soon named Master of novices for the Catalan Province of the Order, being responsible for the founding of a Minim Monastery in Barcelona. He was then elected to serve as Vicar Provincial. In 1602, at the insistence of the Archbishop of Valencia, Juan de Ribera (now honoured as a Saint) and against Gaspar’s wishes, he was elected Corrector Provincial (Regional Superior) of Valencia. He is said to have remained humble and austere; retaining his devotions and customs and continued to be noted for his prudence and charity throughout his life.
He died on 14 July 1604, the body being exposed in the conventual Church of St Sebastián de Valencia, miracles and wonders attributed to his intercession took place immediately. He was buried three days later under the steps of the main Altar. In 1835, after the suppression of the Monastery under the Napoleonic rule of Spain, the urn containing his bones was moved to the Church of St Nicolás, where he had been Baptised as a baby and enshrined under the Altar of the Chapel of St Raphael. Gaspar’s remains were damaged in 1823 and desecrated in 1936, so that only some bones are today venerated in the Parish of St Nicolás de Valencia.
Given his exemplary observance, his deep prayer, his patience, his humility and, in general, the set of virtues that characterised his life and the miracles attributed to his intercession, the Diocesan Information Process began very early. The cause suffered various vicissitudes and delays but finally on 10 September 1786, Blessed Gaspar was Beatified by Pope Pius VI . In March 1786 he was declared, by the Palma de Mallorca City Council, the most illustrious son of the City.