19th-Century Defender of the Family to Be Canonized

Spanish Priest José Manyanet y Vives

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Among the six people John Paul II will canonize this Sunday is José Manyanet y Vives, a priest who helped renew society by holding up the Holy Family of Nazareth as an example.



He was born in Tremp, Spain, on Jan. 7, 1833, and ordained a priest at age 26. After 12 years in the Diocese of Urgell, he felt called by God to become a religious and to found two congregations: the Sons of the Holy Family Jesus, Mary and Joseph (1864), and, 10 years later, the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

The mission of these religious families was oriented to imitating, honoring and propagating devotion to the Holy Family of Nazareth, and working for the Christian formation of families, primarily through Catholic education and instruction of children and youths, and the priestly ministry.

Over four decades, Father Manyanet led the expansion of the institutes, opening schools, colleges, workshops and other apostolic centers in Spain.

Today, the two institutes are active in Europe, Latin America and Africa, as well as the United States. They have some 300 men religious, including priests, and 500 women religious.

Father Manyanet wrote several works and founded The Holy Family magazine, which is currently published in Spanish and Italian.

He also promoted the building in Barcelona of the church of the Holy Family. The church's architect, Antoni Gaudí, is in the process of beatification.

Father Manyanet, whose health was weakened by open wounds on his side, which he bore for 16 years and which he called "the Lord's mercies," died Dec. 17, 1901, in Barcelona.

His last words were: "Jesus, Joseph and Mary: receive my soul when I die."

The period in which he lived was "comparable to our time," says Father Everino Miri, postulator of the cause of canonization. "There was a propaganda that was absolutely contrary to the Christian spirit and to the Christian formation of the family through the sacrament of marriage."

The future saint started "from a very important principle valid also for today," Father Miri said. "Through the education of children and youths, the families of tomorrow can be formed -- a type of preventive method, a way of thinking for the future."