Rafael Guízar y Valencia

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Rafael Guízar y Valencia
Tumba de San Rafael Guízar y Valencia en Xalapa, Veracruz, México.jpg
Born26 April 1878
Cotija, Michoacán, Mexico
Died6 June 1938(1938-06-06) (aged 60)
Mexico City, Mexico
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified29 January 1995, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Canonized15 October 2006, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI
Major shrineXalapa Cathedral,
Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
Feast24 October
AttributesBishop's attire
PatronageDiocese of Xalapa

Rafael Guízar y Valencia (April 26, 1878 – June 6, 1938) was a Mexican Catholic bishop who cared for the wounded, sick, and dying during the Mexican Revolution. Named Bishop of Xalapa, he was driven out of his diocese and forced to live the remainder of his life in hiding in Mexico City, he was also a Knight of Columbus. He was an uncle of Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ (who was later removed from leadership of that group by the Holy See).

Guizar's body was exhumed in 1950, twelve years after his death, and witnesses have said it had not decayed, except for the left eye, which he was said to have offered up for a sinner during his lifetime.[1]

Pope Benedict XVI canonized Guízar on October 15, 2006.

"We welcome the canonization of our brother Knight, Bishop Guízar y Valencia, and know that his life of courage and legacy of evangelization will be an inspiration to each of our 1.7 million members around the world," said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, who attended Guízar's canonization in Rome.


Rafael Guízar y Valencia was born in Cotija de la Paz, Michoacán, on April 26, 1878 (his brother, Antonio Guízar y Valencia, served as the Bishop of Chihuahua for 49 years), he was ordained a priest in 1901.[2] With the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, persecution of the Catholic Church became severe, and Guízar became a special target because of his outspoken defense of the Church.

He went underground—disguised as a junk dealer—to continue his work as a priest. In 1915, when the government ordered that he be shot on sight, he escaped to the United States, and then went on to serve the Church in Guatemala and Cuba.

While in Cuba, Guizar was consecrated as Bishop of Veracruz; the end of the Revolution enabled him to return to Mexico in January 1920, and he joined Knights of Columbus Council 2311 in Xalapa, Veracruz, on August 16, 1923.[citation needed]

As bishop, he founded a clandestine seminary to train future priests, noting that "A bishop can do without a mitre, a crosier, and even a cathedral, but never without a seminary, because the future of his diocese depends on the seminary."

Guízar was forced to flee Mexico once again in 1927 during the persecution of the Church under the anti-clerical and the irreligious President Plutarco Elías Calles,[3][4] he returned in 1929, the year the Church reached an accord with the government after the end of the Cristero War, in part because of successful lobbying by the Knights of Columbus to get the American government to take an active role in solving the crisis.

After his return to Mexico, Guízar continued his ministry, and became known as "the bishop of the poor", he died on June 6, 1938. His remains are now venerated in the Xalapa Cathedral.[5]

Uncle of Marcial Maciel[edit]

Guízar was the uncle of Marcial Maciel, who became a priest and founded the Legion of Christ, committed to obedient service of the pope. According to investigative journalist Jason Berry and former Hartford Courant religion writer Gerald Renner:

The day before Bishop Guizar died, he had been heard shouting angrily at his eighteen-year-old nephew, Marcial Maciel, he was giving Maciel a dressing-down after two women had come to the bishop's house to complain about Maciel, who was their neighbor. Father Orozco, who was among the original group of boys to found the Legion of Christ in 1941, said he heard the women had complained about the "noise" Maciel was making with children he had brought into his home to teach religion, he said that the seminary officials blamed Maciel for his uncle's heart attack and subsequent death.[6]

The incident would take on new significance decades after Guízar's death, when Pope Benedict XVI ordered Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penance after a papal commission completed its investigation into his sexual misconduct with Legion seminarians who were minors at the time. Suspended from priestly faculties by Pope Benedict, Maciel did not attend his uncle's canonization.[7] Maciel was also discovered, in 2009, to have fathered possibly as many as six children while under the vow of chastity.[8]


Guízar was beatified by Pope John Paul II on January 29, 1995, he was canonized on October 15, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "El Cuerpo del Ilmo. Sr. Obispo Guizár y Valencia se encuentra como si tuviera 24 Hrs. de haber fallecido". Cause for the Canonization (in Spanish).
  2. ^ "Bishop St. Raphael Guizar Valencia". Catholic Hierarchy.
  3. ^ Luis González (John Upton translator), San José de Gracia: Mexican Village in Transition (University of Texas Press, 1982), p. 154
  4. ^ Philippe Levillain (2002). The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 1208.
  5. ^ "La Catedral de Xalapa". Archidiócesis de Xalapa (in Spanish).
  6. ^ Berry & Renner, Vows of Silence, Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, New York: 2004, p. 155
  7. ^ "The Reverend Marcial Maciel". The Telegraph: Obituaries. 2 February 2008.
  8. ^ Thompson, Damian (12 August 2009). "Legionaries of Christ founder Fr Maciel may have had six children, say reports". The Telegraph.

External links[edit]