Josep Manyanet y Vives (1833-1901)
Josep Manyanet was born within a large and Christian family on January 7, 1933 in Northeastern Spain, in the city of Tremp, province of Lleida. He was baptized on the same day at his parish Church of our Lady of Valldeflors, patroness of the city. At a very early age, when he was five years old, he was offered to our Lady by his mother. He had to work to complete his schooling with the Piarist Fathers in Barbastro and at the Seminaries of Lleida and Urgell. He was ordained priest on April 9, 1859.
After twelve years of hard work in the Diocese of Urgell at the service of his bishop as private secretary, librarian of the seminary, administrator of the chancery and secretary for pastoral Visitations, he felt God's call to become a religious priest and to found two religious congregations.
Founder and Apostle of the Holy Family
With the approval of his bishop, he founded, in 1864, the religious congregations of the Sons of the Holy Family Jesus, Mary and Joseph and, in 1874, the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth with the mission to honor, imitate and propagate the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth and the Christian formation of families, especially through the catholic education of children and youth and through priestly ministry.
With constant work and prayer, with and exemplary life full of virtues, with loving dedication and solicitude for the souls, he guided and encouraged for almost forty years, the formation and expansion of his Institutes, opening schools and centers of ministry in several towns in Spain. Today both Institutes are present in several European countries, in North and South America and in Africa as well.
Specially called by God to present to the world the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, he wrote several books and booklets to spread the devotion of the Holy Family. He founded the magazine La Sagrada Familia and promoted the idea of the construction of a Temple dedicated to the Holy Family. The Temple, as yet unfinished in Barcelona, was built by the architectural genius and Servant of God Antonio Gaudí, destined to perpetuate the virtues and examples of the Family of Nazareth and to be the universal spiritual home of all families.
His Train of Thought
Blessed Josep Manyanet endeavored to spread the Gospel, both through his preaching and his writings. He wrote many letters, books and booklets for the formation of the members of his religious Institutes, for families and children and for the management of schools. One of the highlights is the School of Nazareth and Home of the Holy Family (Barcelona 1895), his spiritual autobiography in which through the dialogues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, with a literary character called Desideria, describes a process of Christian and religious perfection inspired in the spirituality of the home and school of Nazareth.
His book A Priceless Family Gem (Barcelona 1899) is a guide for marriages and families, which reminds them of the dignity of the sacrament of marriage as a vocation and the important task of the Christian education of their children.
The spirit of the Holy Family is a book of meditations dedicated to the members of his religious Institutes, where he describes their vocation, identity and mission within the society and the church. There is an edition of his Selected Works (Madrid 1991). A forthcoming edition of his Complete Works will enrich those already published. The first volume is already on the way.
Illnesses and Death
His many endeavors were not free of difficulties. He also had to endure physical illnesses along his life, but his constancy and fortitude, nourished by his humble obedience to the will of God, helped him to overcome all of them.
Because of his poor health, due to open sores on his side, which he labelled God's mercies for 16 long years, on the 17th of December of 1901, full of virtues and good deeds, was called by God to his eternal home, in his school “Jesús, María y José” of Barcelona, central place of his work, surrounded by children, with the same simplicity that characterized all his life. His last words were his fervent prayer Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with you.
His remains are kept in a burial chapel at the same school were he died, accompanied by the prayer and gratitude of his religious sons and daughters as well as the numerous youth, children and families that, because of his example, live their lives close to God and to his teachings.
Witness to Holiness
His saintly life impressed many people who came in contact with him. The Process of Canonization was formally introduced in 1956. Once the practice of all virtues in a heroic grade was officially recognized by the church in 1982 and proof of a healing miracle attributed to his intercession, Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed in 1984. Now with the approval of another miracle through his intercession, his canonization is scheduled to take place in Rome, on May 16, 2004.
Pope John Paul II has stated that the sanctity demonstrated by Josep Manyanet stems from the Holy Family. He was called by God, so that “in his name every family on earth may be blessed”. The Holy spirit guided him to boldly proclaim the “Gospel of the family”. His inspiration was that “all families may imitate and bless the Holy Family of Nazareth”. That is: “to build a Nazareth in every home”, and to make of every family a “Holy Family”.
His canonization brings forth the truth of his sanctity and the unending value of his m
essage from Nazareth. That makes him a Prophet of the family and the protector of our families.
ANONIZATION OF SIX NEW SAINTS
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sixth Sunday of Easter, 16 May 2004
1. "Peace I leave with you" (Jn 14: 27). During the Easter season, we frequently hear this promise of Jesus to his disciples. True peace is the fruit of Christ's victory over the power of evil, sin and death. Those who follow him faithfully become witnesses and builders of his peace.
It is in this light that I wish to contemplate the six new Saints, offered to us today by the Church for universal veneration: Luigi Orione, Hannibal Mary Di Francia, José Manyanet y Vives, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, Gianna Beretta Molla.
2. "Men who have risked their lives for the sake of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 15: 26). These words taken from the Acts of the Apostles can be well-applied to St Luigi Orione, a man who gave himself entirely for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom. Physical and moral sufferings, fatigue, difficulty, misunderstandings and all kinds of obstacles characterized his apostolic ministry."Christ, the Church, souls", he would say, "are loved and served on the cross and through crucifixion or they are not loved and served at all" (Writings, 68, 81).
The heart of this strategy of charity was "without limits because it was opened wide by the charity of Christ" (ibid., 102, 32). Passion for Christ was the soul of his bold life, the interior thrust of an altruism without reservations, the always fresh source of an indestructible hope.
This humble son of a man who repaired roads proclaimed that "only charity will save the world"(ibid., 62, 13), and to everyone he would often say that "perfect joy can only be found in perfect dedication of oneself to God and man, and to all mankind" (ibid.).
3. "Whoever loves me will keep my word" (Jn 14: 23). In these words of the Gospel we see illustrated the spiritual profile of Hannibal Mary Di Francia, whose love for the Lord moved him to dedicate his entire life to the spiritual well-being of others. In this perspective, he felt above all the urgency to carry out the Gospel command: "Rogate ergo... Pray then to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!" (Mt 9: 38).
He left to the Rogationist Fathers and the Daughters of Divine Zeal the task to do their utmost with all their strength so that prayer for vocations would be "unceasing and universal". This same call of Fr Hannibal Mary Di Francia is directed to the young people of our times, summed up in his usual exhortation: "Fall in love with Jesus Christ".
From this providential intuition, a great movement of prayer for vocations rose up within the Church. I hope with all my heart that the example of Fr Hannibal Mary Di Francia will guide and sustain such pastoral work even in our times.
4. "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (Jn 14: 26). From the beginning, the Holy Spirit has brought forth men and women who have remembered and spread the truth revealed by Jesus. One of these was St José Manyanet, a true apostle of the family. Inspired by the school of Nazareth, he carried out his plan of personal sanctity and heroically devoted himself to the mission that the Spirit entrusted to him. He founded two religious congregations. A visible symbol of his apostolic zeal is also the temple of the Holy Family of Barcelona.
May St José Manyanet bless all families and help them follow the example of the Holy Family in their homes!
5. A man of prayer, in love with the Eucharist which he adored for long periods, St Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini is an example for the monks of the Order of Lebanese Maronites as he is for his Lebanese brothers and sisters and all Christians of the world. He gave himself completely to the Lord in a life full of great sacrifices, showing that God's love is the only true source of joy and happiness for man. He committed himself to searching for and following Christ, his Master and Lord.
Welcoming his brothers, he reassured and healed many wounds in the hearts of his contemporaries, witnessing to God's mercy. May his example enlighten our journey and bring forth, especially in young people, a true desire for God and for holiness to proclaim to our world the light of the Gospel!
6. "The Angel... showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven" (Rv 21: 10). This marvellous image in the Apocalypse of John exalts the beauty and spiritual fruitfulness of the Church, the new Jerusalem. A unique witness to this spiritual fruitfulness is Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, whose life was full of good fruits.
Contemplating the Holy Family, Paola Elisabetta understood that families remain strong when the bonds among their members are sustained and kept together by sharing the values of faith and a Christian way of life. To spread these values, the new Saint founded the Institute of the Holy Family. She was convinced that in order for children to grow up sure of themselves and strong, they needed a family that was healthy and united, generous and stable. May God help Christian families to welcome and witness in every situation to the love of the merciful God.
7. Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love. In a letter to her future husband a few days before their marriage, she wrote: "Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women".
Following the example of Christ, who "having loved his own... loved them to the end" (Jn 13: 1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfil themselves.
Through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, may our age rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!
8. "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Jn 14: 28). The earthly events of these six new Saints spur us to persevere on our own journey, confiding in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From Heaven, may they now watch over us an
d support us with their powerful intercession.