November 5 – Blessed Mariano de la Mata


As a “saint of the ordinary,” Father Mariano reminds us that the path to holiness is essentially simple: it consists in living the Gospel message in a spirit of faith, freedom and generosity, loving God and neighbour as Jesus instructed us. Mariano is a modern saint, a saint who lived surrounded by the challenges of our contemporary world, but with the timeless truth and wisdom of the two great commandments.

Mariano was born into a simple Christian family from Barrio de la Puebla de Valdavia (Palencia), Spain, in 1905. Three of his brothers preceded him into the Order of Saint Augustine. He himself studied in Valladolid and La Vid and was ordained in 1930. After two years ministering in Spain, he left for Brazil where he carried out an extensive apostolate in the field of education and especially in the daily care of the poor, the infirm and children. Fr. Mariano may be called ‘a saint of the ordinary.’ He possessed a strong character, but was at the same time a generous and sensitive individual, friendly and approachable with all. He was devoted to the Blessed Virgin, thoroughly committed to his priestly vocation and fervent in his love for the Eucharist.

Mariano was diagnosed with cancer in early 1983. He underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor, but the cancer continued to spread. He died April 5, 1983, and was beatified on November 5, 2006 in the Cathedral of Sao Paulo, Brazil by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, who said of the new blessed, “Fr. Mariano was poor with the poor, humble among children and compassionate towards the infirm and the elderly. He was conscientious with his students, the faithful and the association of Workshops of Saint Rita (he founded over 200 such workshops which employ people to make affordable clothing for the poor). He was merciful toward his penitents, pure of heart, and a lover of peace in his Augustinian community and in his family, overcoming difficulties through prayer and sacrifice, constantly having recourse to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Consolation up until the moment he departed this life.” His body rests beside the altar of his beloved Virgin of Consolation in the Church of Saint Augustine in Sao Paulo. 

One of the friars with whom Mariano had lived for some time was taken back when told that his confrere was to be beatified. He said this was not because there was anything negative about him, “but rather because there were no exceptional, spectacular signs of holiness that drew his attention.” Perhaps that says as much about the ‘ordinariness’ of sanctity as it does the holiness of the other members of the community as well!