Thousands of people came together for over three days for a popular festival on this occasion. We have been moved and excited as we remembered his life, which was coherent and committed to the most forgotten and we have listened to the stories that go from mouth to mouth by the locals.
The beatification ceremony was presided over by the papal envoy, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and concelebrated by the papal nuncio in Argentina, Emil Paul Tscherrig, some 80 bishops (nearly all of Argentine’s bishops) and some 1,200 priests.
On a cold and cloudy morning the following words, spoken on the farm called White Christ, filled with Argentinians from various provinces, fulfilled a long and nourished hope. It also awakened in the audience deep emotion, joy, gratitude, and continued applause:
"We proclaim the venerable servant José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, a diocesan priest, a pastor according to the heart of Christ, faithful minister of the gospel, witness to the love of Christ for the poor, to be called henceforth Blessed"
In this context, the President of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, Monsignor José María Arancedo, read a letter in which the pope called the figure of the newly Blessed "pastor who smelled of his sheep" and he said that Brochero was a "pioneer" of the evangelization to bring the message of Christ to the " existential peripheries" and he became "poor among the poor."
In his homily, Cardinal Amato said that the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis describes the "essential features that portray this Christian hero, sower of the good, in this land of Argentina. His beatification is an event of great social as well as religious significance" and he compared Brochero with the Saint Curé D’Ars , patron of parish priests worldwide .
"A true benefactor of the Argentinian people, he promoted the progress of society and the welfare of the community. The work for the dignity of the human person came from his personal holiness, a trait that all recognized in him during his life," he said.
Amato spoke about the conversion of two criminals through Brochero’s intervention and then he asked: "Who was this priest and what did he do to be so loved and revered?" "The answer is simple: he was a priest entirely devoted to the people, all he did was for the good and the sanctification of the faithful, especially of the needy" he said .
Cardinal Amato defined Fr. Brochero as a "true communicator who, with his preaching, touched the hearts, changing even the most hardened sinners.”
"He became a promoter of the Kingdom of God and a defender of Christ,” he said. "He preached the spiritual exercises (of St. Ignatius Loyola ) which moved crowds, because he was "convinced of their effectiveness as a tool to communicate the light of divine truth to the intelligence so that God’s grace may triumph in their hearts, even in the most rebellious."
"His pastoral charity generated communion. He was a pastor and a father to all. But his favorites were the sick, the young, and the poor," he said .
Finally, he urged the priests to practice what Brochero taught and to not tire of being merciful and exercising the priestly ministry with serenity and joy, as he did. “This beatification is just a start to learn about this holy priest, Fr. Brochero. Let us imitate him and ask for our spiritual and material needs."
A video was shown with the Pope at the Vatican blessing a bell with the words "Brochero, a pastor who smelled of his sheep" to be placed in the parish church.
At the end of the ritual of beatification, Nicolas Flores, the child who received the "miracle," his parents, a local priest, and a nun brought the relics of the Blessed to the altar. The Bishop of Cruz del Eje, Monsignor Santiago Olivera, thanked the Pope for this significant moment for the Church.
Prior to the ceremony of beatification Cardinal Amato read a message from Pope Francis with a "special" blessing for the sick reminding them that "pain is part of our lives" and that Jesus Christ was associated with human pain "in his Passion and death." "People like you who carry the cross of Christ share with Him in the redemption of humanity. Their sufferings at this historical moment, along with their prayers, should get a great gift from the Lord, the great gift of peace and fraternity among all peoples of the world.... You, dear sick people, are the first in line in this spiritual mission of peace in the Church," said the Pope .
The history of Brochero that is retold in a thousand ways by the people of Cordoba, hit us. For the people, Brochero was the "gaucho priest" who, more than a century ago, developed his pastoral work for human development in western Cordoba. A century ago, this area was a forgotten region, poor and without communication with the outside world, but it had a picturesque landscape of incomparable beauty in the valleys, the rivers and the mountains.
In this place this pastor worked for forty years. He was simple and enthusiastic, and he knew how to assimilate thoroughly the culture of his people. He spoke the language of the mountain people, sometimes coarse in appearance, but clever to reach the heart and convey the love Jesus and the love of each other.
This Creole priest traveled on his mule in those long distances of the parish of St. Albert. He rode to the ranches to meet people, drink “mate” with them and learn about their problems and needs.
He shared joy with his spark from Cordoba, knew how to listen to the silence of his people and committed himself to the promotion of the region. With the collaboration of the faithful he built churches, schools and a retreat house. He opened roads and aqueducts. He encouraged the culture of work, being the first to take a pick and a shovel and so invite to stop listlessness and generate labor sources. He also knew how to question those lawmakers from Cordoba "who were not interested in the progress of his province" since they did not promote laws for the train to come to these villages.
It has been said that "Brochero’s apostolic style was new and inventive; he had to be courageous and have tenacity. At all times, he faced difficulties with confidence and patiently endured the criticism of those who did not understand him."
He died of leprosy after several years of suffering that he knew how to turn into prayer and offering them for “people of the past, for those of the present and for those who will come to the end of the world" as he wrote to his former fellow seminarian when he was facing the end of his life.
The newspapers of the time often alluded to the work of this priest. In 1887, when he was hard at work, one of them published the following note:
"He is a man of flesh and bones: he celebrates Mass, hears confessions, helps people to die, baptizes, consecrates marriage unions, etc. Yet he is an exception: he lives the Gospel. Are you missing a carpenter? He is a carpenter. Are you missing a pawn? He is a pawn. He rolls up his cassock wherever, takes the shovel or hoe and opens a public road in 15 days, aided by his parishioners. Do we lack anything? Well, he is all! And he does it all with a smile and satisfaction in the soul for the glory of God and the good of the people, and all goes well done because it is done thoroughly. And he has not only built public roads: He has also built a good Church. He has also built a great school ... All without the financial support of the province, without cost on the part of the members of the town! He did everything with his own hands! Miracle? No. The thing is very simple. It is a matter of honesty and willingness. In other words: it is a matter of taking his apostolate seriously, as Brochero did."
At the Angelus on Sunday, September 15, Pope Francis said: "yesterday in Argentina, Blessed José Gabriel Brochero was proclaimed Blessed, a priest of the Diocese of Córdoba, born in 1840 and died in 1914. Inspired by the love of Christ, he dedicated himself entirely to his flock, to lead everyone to the Kingdom of God, with immense mercy and zeal for souls. He stayed with the people, and sought to lead many to the spiritual exercises.”
Video on the bell offered by the Pope to Villa Brochero Francisco, Córdoba (in Spanish)
José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero was born on March 16, 1840 in the vicinity of Santa Rosa de Rio Primero (Córdoba). He died on January 26, 1914 in Villa del Tránsito.
Fava and Nora Norma Rosso Santandrea