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Ceferino, the Patagonian saint

From Chimpay to Rome, the story of Ceferino Namuncurá.

Ceferino, el santo patagónico

With only 18 years of life,  Ceferino Namuncurá  is an interesting story, from its roots, its formation and what continues to generate until today the blessed native of Patagonia.

 Son of the lonco of the Chilean captive Rosario Burgos and the Mapuche lonco Manuel Namuncurá , who faced the hosts of  Julio Argentino Roca  during the Desert Campaign,  Ceferino was born in Chimpay , Rio Negro, on August 26, 1886, baptized a year later by the Salesian Domingo Milanesio.

 His father also served as “ambassador” of the Mapuche people after the surrender to the Government of Juan Manuel de Rosas , with whom he signed the peace treaties. He was later appointed colonel of the Argentine Army and left with Ceferino, who was still a child, for the  City of Buenos Aires .During the first few months, he started working in the Navy workshops, but could not adapt and asked his father to get him out of there.

At that time, Manuel Namuncurá, son of Cacique Calfucurá, turned to  Luis Sáenz Peña , to whom he sent a letter to recommend Ceferino in the Order of the Salesians. The epistle took effect and at  the age of 11 the boy was enrolled in September 1897  as an internal student in an educational establishment. After a positive adaptation, his true vocation would begin: the priesthood.

Years later, the health problems for Ceferino would begin. In 1902 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which prompted his return to Rio Negro, although not to Chimpay, but to  Viedma , where he began his secondary studies, continuing his religious path.

 Departure to Italy 

 In 1903 he left for Italy , hoping to recover to continue his studies in order to become a priest. There he settled in Turin and a few months later he met no less than  Pope Pius X , on which occasion he gave a brief speech and gave the supreme pontiff a quillango. In return, he was given the medal of the princes.

However, the state of health of the young Patagonian continued to deteriorate and, unfortunately, died on 11 May 1905. He left the earthly world, but he would begin his spiritual legacy.

 His remains were buried the next day in the People's Cemetery in Rome, and repatriated during the presidency of Marcelo T. de Alvear in 1924. In August 2009, his ashes were taken by his relatives to San Ignacio, in the province of Neuquén, under the rite of the Mapuche community.

 The Patagonian saint 

Ceferino Namuncurá is not yet considered a saint by the Catholic Church, but for Argentine popular culture he is.

In the 1930s devotion to his figure began to grow and, in the mid-1940s, the cause began to be beatified, while his face began to be increasingly present in the prints.

 On July 7, 2007, Benedict XVI declared Ceferino Blessed  and, in November of that same year, a crowd estimated to be more than 100,000 people pilgrimage to Chimpay to witness the proclamation ceremony of his beatification, which was officiated by papal envoy Tarcisio Bertone, on a historic day.

 The miracle 

The miracle that gave way to beatification was recorded in Cordoba, when a 24-year-old girl, back in 2000, was inexplicably cured of uterine cancer.In October of that year, on a Friday,  Valeria Herrera was  detected with a malignant tumor that quickly required chemotherapy, which was scheduled for the following Monday. When he arrived at his house, he saw in a magazine that talked about the Argentine saints and decided to pray to Ceferino because he “remembered the image of a stampete that my grandmother had.”

Great was his surprise — and that of the doctors — on Monday, the day he would begin his treatment, when doctors confirmed that he did not have the tumor.Science could not explain the absence of the tumor and Benedict XVI signed the decree to beatify the Patagonian after recognizing it as a miracle, after verifying earlier and later studies of Herrera, who later became a mother.

Publication Date: 26/08/2020

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