Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI meeting with Travellers

Today Gypsy communities drawn from all over Europe will be centre stage in the Vatican for a special audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The meeting, - expressly desired by the Holy Father – will see testimonies from four representatives of different Gypsy communities, an address by Pope Benedict and a performance of traditional dance by Gypsy children.

Members of the Roma, Sinti, Manouches, Kale, Yenish and Travellers communities from 20 European are taking part in a pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of their patron, Blessed Zefferino Gimenez. I hope that some Irish Travellers will be in attendance.

Patron Saint of the Gypsies

Blessed Zefferino Gimenez Malla

Blessed Zefferino Giménez Malla (1861-1936), known as "El Pelé", was born of a Catholic gypsy family. He lived like a nomad for forty years and then settled in Barbastro (Spain). He married but had no children. Although he was illiterate, he taught the gypsy and non-gypsy children the first elements of Christianity, using the Bible above all, and he trained them to pray daily.

He made peace among the Kalòs (Spanish nomads) and resolved their disputes with others. He was honest in his work as an animal trader. In 1926 he became a member of the Franciscan Third Order. He belonged to Conference of St. Vincent De Paul. In 1931 he began participating in "Night Adoration".
During the religious persecution, he defended a priest who was being brought to jail. He too was arrested and then killed in Barbastro together with many priests, brothers and lay persons. He died shouting, "Long live Christ the King!", holding a rosary in his hands. His body was thrown into a common grave and never found again. In 1997 John Paul II proclaimed him Blessed. (Source)

Pope John Paul II said of Giménez Malla: "His life shows how Christ is present in the various peoples and races, and that all are called to holiness which is attained by keeping his commandments and remaining in his love (John 15:11)"

Blessed Zefferino Gimenez Malla, pray for us.

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