The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Blessed Diégo Josef of Cádiz

Blessed Diego Josef of CadizThe death of Blessed Didacus of Cadiz, Capuchin, on March 24, 1801, falls just within the nineteenth century. He was born of an illustrious noble family at Cadiz in 1743, and his full name was Joseph Francis Lopez Caamagno Texeiro Ulloa de Balcellar. His parents gave their child a most religious training. The boy Joseph hurried to church early so as to be the first to serve Mass. At home, too, he showed his love of prayer. His modesty and angelic behavior made him beloved by all. But a heavy cross lay on the brave boy’s shoulders – he could make little progress in his studies. His faith told hi:n where to find help and consolation. So he went very frequently to the sacraments. When he applied for admission into the Capuchin monastery he was refused because of his deficiency in talent. His grief was unspeakable, but he was not discouraged and he prayed as fervently and studied as hard as he could.

At length his perseverance was rewarded. He had acquired sufficient knowledge and was permitted to enter the novitiate at Seville. Now, it was his want of talent that made Father Didacus, for thus our Joseph was now called, a saint. It impelled him to work constantly with all ardor and to put all his confidence in God. His recompense was unalterable spiritual joy. After his ordination he was appointed to preach in the church of the Order. He declared his unfitness but submitted his will to that of his superiors. His success surpassed all hope and Father Didacus was sent to give missions to the people. His sermons were simple but very stirring. Everyone wondered at the great oratorical power of a man who had before seemed so poorly gifted, and it was justly ascribed to his holiness.

By degrees the fame of Father Didacus spread throughout all Spain. Men spoke of him even at the Court. The crowds at his sermons were so great that he was often obliged to preach in the open air, where the people often listened to him for hours. At the end he frequently had to be protected by strong men or the people would have torn his habit to shreds for relics. Bad theaters were closed after his missions, forbidden books were burned. He was loaded with honors by Pope Pius VI, by Charles III of Spain, and by many bishops and cities, but he always remained the humble Capuchin, traveled always on foot, wore an old plain habit and observed most strictly the rules of his Order. In the midst of his unwearying activity he was called to his eternal rest at Arunda on 24 March 1801. Before he died he made a touching address to his crucifix. He was beatified in 1904. New miracles taking place since then, the process of his canonization has been begun.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916