25 February 2009

Sebastián de Aparicio

Today, February 25th is the feast day of Beato Sebastián de Aparicio. He is considered the patron saint of tranport in Mexico only he hasn't quite made it to sainthood yet. Nevertheless he was quite a guy. He was born in Spain in 1502 and he emigrated to the New World at the age of 31. He ended up in the city of Puebla where he worked at various things until he found his “niche” in the market. By this time there was more and more traffic going back and forth from Veracruz to Mexico City and it all had to pass through Puebla. Most of the cargo was carried either on the backs of burros or the backs of poor natives. Because he was born a Spaniard, Sebastián got permission to ride out into the brush and round up wild cattle which he then trained to pull a cart. He was the first Mexican “cowboy” or “charro”. He teamed up with a carpenter and they built some oxcarts and went into the transportation business. He worked at that business for eighteen years and took those carts to a lot of places and where there were no roads to those places he made his own roads. As a matter of fact he ended up making 600 miles of roads.

At about fifty years old Sebastián found himself to be a rich man and he retired. He saw so much misery around him, however, that he became a philanthropist and eventually gave away everything he owned. Finally, he joined the Franciscan order and received his friar's habit at the age of seventy-two in the convent of San Francisco in Mexico City. He was assigned the dreary task of pleading for the daily bread for himself and his fellow Franciscans but he was happy to do it. The last ten years of his life he went around working miracles to the complete amazement of everyone. He became so famous for these miracles that the Bishop of Puebla felt pressured to begin the canonization process for sainthood before Sebastián was even dead. He died in 1600 at age ninety-eight which in those days was pretty a extraordinary thing in itself and he was eventually beatified in 1789. So then why did it take one hundred eighty-nine long years to beatify him and how come he isn't a saint yet? Well, there was this thing about him being married...twice. Supposedly he got married solely for the protection of the women involved but everyone knows how people WILL talk. In Heaven he is probably a saint but down here on earth the powers that be in Rome are probably going to let him cool his heels a bit longer...at least until they are damned sure that he is definitely out of Purgatory.

The thing that I like about Sebastián de Aparicio is that there is enough known about him and written about him to know that he was a real person who did some very remarkable and unselfish things. I think this is the kind of person that Barack Obama would like us all to emulate. Perhaps we are finally getting to the point where people will start asking what they can do for their country like John Kennedy admonished us and not the other way around. I hope so. It is definitely time for a change. I don't think I have it in me to tame wild cattle or build roads but I think I am going to put a picture of Sebastián above my shaving mirror to remind me that at the very least I can be true my old Boy Scout pledge to do a good turn daily. It may not make the world a better place overnight but if nothing else it is as good a place to start as any. Why don't you join me? If anyone asks you why you have become so helpful all of a sudden you can just tell them that you are a friend of Sebastián.

8 comments:

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Beautiful message & sentiment

Babs said...

Aparicio is one of the streets that I walk on to go down the hill. It will definitely have a different vibe from now on........And I love your sentiment......"Random acts of kindness" ...........

glorv1 said...

Very nice post. Sebastian sounds like he was indeed a great soul. Thx for sharing.

YayaOrchid said...

I like that your writings are always full of history that we wouldn't otherwise know about. I always look forward to your posts!

Fr. Bart, O.P. said...

Earthy hagiography. Refreshing.

Look in the Mirror said...

Bob, love the post, but I have to correct one thing: Rome is not waiting for his heels to cool b/c of how people will talk or for any other reason. Beatification and canonization are both processes. To get to each level, criteria have to be met. Under the rules in place in 1789, he needed two miracles for beatification. Under the rules in places today, he needs just one for canonization. Evidently that hasn't happened. However, it's not like the Vatican sits there and says, "Well, we have the miracle(s) in place and all, buuuuut ... you know, mehbeh i's jus' bettah that he coo' his heels jus' a tad longah."

Also, beatification -- i.e., being declared a "Blessed" -- means you are in heaven. It's just that veneration of your example as a disciple of Christ is limited to a certain locality: Where you were born, where you lived, where you died, etc. Canonization -- being added to the "canon" or list of saints -- means such veneration is universal.

If you want to know where things stand with his canonization process, write to Fra Antonio of Jesus Margil y Ros, OFM, Templo de San Francisco, 14 Oriente No. 1009, 72000 Puebla, Puebla, Mexico

Bob Mrotek said...

Thanks Brian, but I have a suspicion that like everything else it takes some money and power to make a saint, especially these days, and poor Sebastián has no champion. Too bad JP II isn't still around. Sebastián may have had a better chance for recognition but no matter what he is still a positive influence in my life and an example on how a Christian should live. I really appreciate your comment. Please keep in touch.

Anonymous said...

Great words!!!...Thank u saint aparicio!!!...u r a great man!!!...

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.