Mexico City (Agenzia Fides) - Mexican Bishop Rafael Guízar Valencia (1878-1938), will be canonised in Rome on Sunday 15 October by Pope Benedict XVI. He will be the first saint born on American soil. "St Rafael is a wonderful example of self-giving and service to others; his character and intense apostolic zeal, tried by great difficulties in his time, show it is possible to dedicate one’s life to the poor, even in the face of great obstacles and to transform various areas of society with witness" say the Bishops of Mexico in a statement for the canonisation. The Mexican Bishops’ Conference has decided to take the new Saint as the Conference patron.
The canonisation of the first American born Bishop will be celebrated in Rome and also in Mexico with a special programme of events. In Rome on 12 October there will be a Congress on "San Rafael Guízar Valencia, example of pastoral charity", organised by the Pontifical College Regina Apostolorum with the presence of the president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, and the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re. On the same day in Mexico there will be the presentation of the book "San Rafael Guizar Valencia, Opiscopo misionario" by Pedro Barrajón. In the evening of 14 October a prayer vigil will be held in Veracruz Cathedral where the Saint is buried. The next day the moment the Pope in Rome pronounces the canonisation formula for Bishop Guízar church bells will chime throughout Mexico. For nine days afterwards, 15 -24 October, there will be pilgrimages to the burial place of Saint Guízar. On 17 October a special Mass at the Basilica of St Paul in Rome will be presided by Bishop Sergio Obeso Rivera of Xalapa (Veracruz). In Mexico celebrations will continue to the end of the month and close with a solemn Mass of thanksgiving on 31 October in Xalapeño Sports Stadium again presided by Bishop Sergio Obeso Rivera.
"May the memory and witness of Saint Rafael Guízar Valencia continue to revive all Mexican’s desire for justice and encourage people to work generously like him to build a society of justice and brotherhood" the Bishops conclude. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 10/10/2006; righe 28, parole 384)