13-September-2010 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Pope Calls Friar's Life a "Chant of Humility"

Sends Message for Leopoldo de Alpandeire Beatification

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is pointing to the example of a newly beatified Capuchin friar whose life was a "chant of humility and trust in God."

The Pope spoke Sunday about Leopoldo Sánchez Márquez de Alpandeire (born Francisco), a Spanish professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins who was beatified that same day in Granada, Spain.

"I rejoice with the Franciscan family who is seeing this brother of theirs added to the numerous ranks of their saints and blessed," the Pontiff said in an address after praying the midday Angelus in Castel Gandolfo.

The Holy Father took the opportunity to send a greeting to the 60,000 pilgrims gathered at Granada's Armilla Air Base for the ceremony.

Speaking in Spanish, Benedict XVI acknowledged that "the life of this simple and austere Capuchin religious is a chant to humility and trust in God, and a luminous model of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary."

Hence, the Pope invited "all, following the example of the new blessed, to serve the Lord with a sincere heart, so that we are able to experience his immense love for us, which makes it possible for us to love all men without exception."

Glorious spectacle

The beatification ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, on behalf of the Pontiff.

One of the ceremony participants was Puerto Rican Ileana Martínez, 50, who was cured of Lupus, a degenerative disease, in a scientifically inexplicable way. This miraculous healing, attributed to the new blessed, was decisive in the process of his canonization case.

During the homily, Archbishop Amato said: "If Granada is known worldwide for the Alhambra, it is also known for the many devotees of Brother Leopoldo. Granada is a fortunate city because it has witnessed the glorious spectacle of the sanctity of Blessed Brother Leopoldo, and that is why he was named her adoptive son."

The prelate affirmed that the friar "showed the way of justice" through his "charity, humility and Marian devotion," with the testimony and words of his life, dedicated in a good part to begging, even in the moments of "religious persecution."

The ceremony began with Schubert's Ave Maria sung by Rosa López, who was accompanied by a piano.

Archbishop Amato read the letter with which Benedict XVI inscribed the friar, known popularly as "the beggar of the three Hail Marys," in the list of blesseds. After the proclamation of his beatification, a large tapestry was unveiled with the image of the Capuchin.

Also attending the beatification were Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; Archbishop Francisco Javier Martínez of Granada; Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, retired archbishop of Seville; military Archbishop Juan del Río; and Bishop Bernabé de Jesús Sagastume Lemus of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala.

Biography

Francisco, as he was baptized, was born in 1866 in Alpandeire, a small village in the province of Malaga, in the south of Spain.

As a child he was dedicated to raising sheep and goats and cultivating the land, tasks he carried out while praying the rosary.

At age 35, Francisco donned the habit in the friary of Seville, where he changed his name to Leopoldo, according to the norms of the order. On November 16, 1900 the friar made his first profession. From then on he lived short spells as a gardener in the friaries of Seville, Antequera and Granada. On November 23, 1903, he made his perpetual vows in Granada.

In 1914 Brother Leopoldo traveled again to Granada where he was a beggar, and where he would stay until his death in 1956. Every time he received alms he prayed three Hail Marys.

Brother Leopoldo died on February 9, 1956. Today, the number of pilgrims who annually visit his tomb exceeds 800,000.

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