Spirituality for Today – Summer 2018 – Volume 22, Issue 4

Saint for August 2018
Bl. Juan Maria de la Cruz – August 31

Mariano Mendez was born on September 4, 1891 in Spain, the first of 15 children. He was brought up in a very pious family and since early childhood felt a vocation for the priesthood. He studied humanities, and later theology and philosophy in Avila, and at that time he also entered seminary. He completed his studies with distinction in 1916. A year earlier, he joined the Dominican order, but health problems forced him to leave the novitiate. After ordination, he worked in a parish in Villanueva de Gomez. After five years of work as a parish priest he became chaplain in the novitiate of Brothers of the Christian Schools. Another relapse of illness prevent him from completing his novitiate in the Discalced Carmelite monastery.

While working in different parishes, he did not give up his vocation for monastic life. In 1923 he met with Fr. Wilhelm Zicke who advised him to join the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, an order with a less strict rule, which was important given his illness. In 1926 he made his monastic vows and took the name Juan Maria de la Cruz.

As a professor of theology in Novelda Fr. Juan Maria de la Cruz took care of the intellectual and spiritual development of those under his care. As the order's itinerant priest, despite his poor health, he traveled around Spain seeking funds for his congregation, the schools and shelters. He was arrested during the civic war in 1936 when he was running from communist persecution in civilian clothes. However, when he saw communists destroy religious objects at a church, he protested too loudly. That sealed his fate. In prison, he prayed and raised the spirits of other prisoners. On August 23 Fr. Juan Maria de la Cruz, along with several other monks, was shot dead by a firing squad near Valencia. He was beatified on March 11, 2001.

God, adored by every creature,
let Your holy will be fulfilled by us all.
Let us work and suffer for You,
so that we can receive all that Your Providence
has prepared for us in peace
of soul and humility.

For Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary People.