Saint of the Day ~ July 17

SERVANT OF GOD FRANCISCO GARCÉS (1738-1781) and COMPANIONS, priests and martyrs

Today, the Church honors the Servant of God Francisco Garcés and companions, servants to the children of God, who gave their lives for their faith under unfortunate circumstances.

A contemporary of the American Revolution and of Blessed Junípero Serra, Francisco Garcés was born in 1738 in Spain, where he joined the Franciscan Order. After ordination to the priesthood in 1763, he was sent to Mexico.

Five years later he was assigned to San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, Arizona, one of several missions the Jesuits had founded in Arizona and New Mexico, before the Jesuit missionaries were expelled in 1767 from all territories controlled by the Catholic king of Spain.

In Arizona, Padre Francisco Garcés worked among the Papago, Yuma, Pima and Apache Native Americans. His missionary travels took him to the Grand Canyon and to California. Padre Francisco Palou, a contemporary of Padre Garcés, writes that Francisco had a particular love for the Indian people and sought to present the Gospel to them in a way adapted to their culture; at the same time he also encouraged them to live in harmony and peace among themselves.

Being respected and greatly loved by the indigenous native peoples, among whom he lived unharmed for a long time, they regularly gave him food and referred to him as “Viva Jesus”, which was the greeting he taught them to use.

For the sake of their indigenous converts, the Spanish missionaries wanted to organize settlements away from the Spanish soldiers and colonists. But the commandant in Mexico insisted that two new missions on the Colorado River, Misión San Pedro y San Pablo and Misión La Purísima Concepción, be mixed settlements.

As a result, a revolt among the Yuma Indians, a war-like tribe, against the Spanish settlers left Padres Juan Diaz and Matias Moreno dead at Misión San Pedro y San Pablo. Padres Francisco Garcés and Juan Barreneche were killed at Misión La Purísima Concepción on either July 17 or 18, 1781, as a result of the violent uprising.

We commemorate their martyrdom on July 17.

(From catholicnewsagency.com, americancatholic.org and vatican.va/holy_father)

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PRAYER

(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Several Martyrs)

“All-powerful and Ever-living God, turn our weakness into strength. As You gave Your martyrs Servant of God Francisco Garcés and companions the courage to suffer death for Christ, give us the courage to live in faithful witness to You.

“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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