On September 12th, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Sisters Ana Maria and Mercedes attended the beatification of Fray Leopoldo de Alpandeire, which took place at the Armilla Air Base, outside Granada (Spain).
Everything seemed to give evidence that it would be very hot that day. At a quarter to six in the morning, when we left Alcalá de Guadaíra (Seville) it was 78.8ºF (26ºC), and the sun was shining pretty nicely on the square where the beatification took place.
We were impressed by how well organized everything was. We saw a documentary on the life of the new Blessed, they announced where confessions would be, and we could see lines and lines of people waiting for their turn to go to confession. They reminded everyone of the correct ways to receive Communion, and they emphasized the respect that the Eucharist should be given. Finally, they prepared the songs in order to better participate in the celebration.
Fray Leopoldo, was known as "the beggar of the three Hail Marys," and so, the event began by the singing the Schubert's Ave Maria, preformed by the Granadian singer Rosa López.
Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presided the ceremony, and there was a large ecclesiastical representation, including all the bishops of Andalucía and the cardinals Antonio Cañizares and Carlos Amigo Vallejo. The Archbishop of Granada, Javier Martinez, made the formal request to the Church asking for the beatification of Fray Leopoldo. Afterwards the vice postulator of the cause, Alfonso Ramirez, a Capuchin monk, read a biography of the Blessed. Then Archbishop Angelo Amato made public the decree by which Pope Benedict XVI inscribed the friar as a Blessed. After the beatification, they unveiled a large tapestry with the image of Fray Leopoldo surrounded by angels in heaven, and everyone began to applaud. At the ceremony they also carried a relic of the friar in procession.
Ileana Martinez, the woman that was miraculously cured through the intercession of Fray Leopoldo, was also present at the event.
During the homily, Archbishop Amato defined Fray Leopoldo as "a gem that beautifies the Capuchin Order," stressing that "he was a man of prayer and that taught the way of justice" through its "charity, humility and devotion to Mary." He told anecdotes and episodes from the life of this humble friar who devoted fifty years of his life to begging, even during times of "religious persecution." "He often received verbal abuse and stones were thrown at him, and once he was nearly lynched." The love of God, work, and penance marked the life of this monk who became so popular through his occupation as a begging friar.
The prefect of the Congregation for Saints said that if Granada is known around the world for the Alhambra, it is also known for the many devotees of Fray Leopoldo. Granada is a fortunate city because it has contemplated the glorious spectacle of the sanctity of the Blessed Fray Leopoldo."
Pope Benedict XVI was united to the event from Castel Gandolfo and after praying the Angelus, he addressed the faithful saying that "the life of this simple and austere Capuchin is a hymn to humility and trust in God and a luminous model of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary." He invited "all to follow the example of the new Blessed, serving the Lord with a sincere heart, so that we can experience the great love He has for us and that makes it possible for us to love all men without exception."
Repeating what Fray Leopoldo did so often in his life, all those attending the beatification ended the ceremony with the recitation of three Hail Marys. The Church has set his feast day on February 9th, the day on which he died.
For us it was a grace to attend this event, particularly for Sr. Ana Maria, who has always been very devoted to Fray Leopoldo, because her grandfather and her mother had met him, and had always felt that thier family was blessed by this Capuchin Friar. There we prayed for all the Servant Sisters, so that Fray Leopoldo may intercede for us and grant us a generous and humble heart like his. Soon you can read more about him in the HM Magazine.