- El Pele
- Zefferino Giménez Malla
- Zefyrinus Giménez Malla
Lifelong layman. He had little education, and was possibly illiterate, but his native intelligence was obvious to all who knew him, and he was known for his love of nature. Baptised into the Church as an adult. Married to Teresa Jimenez Castro in 1912 at age 51. Adoptive father of his niece Pepita. He became a mule-trader around 1920, and did so well he was able to settle in the town of Barbastro as a successful businessman. Widower in 1922. City councilman in Barbastro. Catechist, Eucharistic minister, choir director and rosary leader, Ceferino developed a reputation for holiness, and people would be on their best behavior around him. Advisor to his bishop. Dominican tertiary in 1926. A Gitano (Spanish Gypsy), he worked to improve relations between Gypsies and non-Gypsies. He was arrested during the persecutions of the Spanish Civil War for hiding priests. He was offered his freedom if he would renounce his faith and throw away his rosary; he declined. Martyr.
- shot by firing squad on 8 August 1936 in the cemetery of Barbastro, Spain
- buried there in an unmarked grave
- after the war his body was exhumed and re-interred next to his wife
“I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15) Also in Barbastro, the Gypsy Ceferino Giménez Malla, known as “El Pelé” died for the faith in which he had lived. His life shows how Christ is present in the various peoples and races, and that all are called to holiness which is attained by keeping his commandments and remaining in his love (cf. Jn 15:11). El Pelé was generous and welcoming to the poor, despite his own poverty; honest in his activities, faithful to his people and his Gypsy race, endowed with an extraordinary natural intelligence and the gift of counsel. He was above all a man of deep religious beliefs.
His frequent participation at Mass, devotion to the Bessed Virgin with the recitation of the rosary, and his membership in various Catholic associations helped him to firmly love God and his neighbour. Thus even at the risk of his own life, he did not hesitate to defend a priest who was about to be arrested, and for doing so he was put in prison where he never ceased to pray and was later shot, as he clutched his Rosary in his hands. Blessed Ceferino Giménez Malla knew how to sow peace and solidarity among his own, often mediating in the conflicts that relations between Gypsies and farmers sometimes involve, showing that Christ’s love is not limited by race or culture. Today “El Pelé” intercedes for all before our common Father, and the Church proposes him as a model to follow and a significant example of the universal vocation to holiness, especially for Gypsies, who have close cultural and ethnic ties with him. – Pope John Paul II, homily of the beatification Mass for Blessed Ceferino, Sunday 4 May 1997
- “Blessed Ceferino Jimenez-Malla“. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 October 2016. Web. 7 December 2016. <>