Bl. Mariano de la Mata
Aparicio, O.S.A. (1905-1983)
Mariano de la Mata Aparicio was born on 31 December 1905 at Puebla de Valdavia, Spain, and was raised in a profoundly Christian family.
Following the example of his other three brothers, he entered the Order of St Augustine in 1921 and took the habit from the hands of a compatriot, Fr Anselm Polanco, the future Bishop of Teruel who was beatified in 1995.
In 1930, after completing his studies in Valladolid and Santa Maria de la Vid (Burgos), Mariano was ordained a priest.
After less than two years of priestly service in his native Spain, Fr de la Mata Aparicio was destined for missionary work in Brazil. He arrived there in 1931, and there he remained for more than 50 years until his holy death in 1983.
His first assignment in Brazil was as coadjutor in the parish of Taquaritinga, in the State of São Paulo.
Two years later he was transferred to St Augustine College, where he taught natural sciences until 1949. During that time he was also director of the college and held the post of vice provincial superior from 1945 to 1948.
He continued his apostolate in São Paulo State as professor and superior of Engenheiro Schmidt, where the vice provincial seminary was located.
In 1961 Fr Mariano returned to teach at St Augustine College and also took on the duties of spiritual director of the St Rita of Cascia Workshop and parochial vicar of the Church of St Augustine.
Fr Mariano is remembered as the messenger of charity and for his educational work among the neediest of Brazil.
He was a companion to young and old, especially to the sick. As a Religious priest he spread goodness and simplicity through his kind and unimposing demeanour.
He was an exemplary priest in carrying out his apostolic missions as well as supportive and caring towards his brothers in community. He kept in touch with his family and took an interest in the events of his faraway homeland.
A man rich in empathy, he lovingly tended to the needs of those who surrounded him, and went out of his way to visit the sick regularly, as was the case with Sergio Teixera. Fr Mariano visited this student of his for an entire year on a regular basis, giving him private lessons during his illness.
Another student with hepatitis, Horacio Gentile, was visited almost every day during his 60-day hospital stay by the holy priest, notwithstanding the great distance and steep climb the prelate had to endure.
Fr Mariano loved nature, plants and animals. His heart was sensitive to the beauty of God's creation and could be moved at its sight. He was also very interested in stamp collecting.
In the afternoons he could often be seen on his way to visit the St Rita workshops that employed numerous poor people who made clothing for the needy. As their spiritual director, Fr Mariano guided them patiently with his word and his teaching, always faithful to the Church.
Even with the passing of years, his waning strength and his diminished vision, the priest continued to make his pastoral visits.
In early 1983 he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour of the pancreas, but the cancer continued to spread. He died on 5 April 1983. His mortal remains are preserved in the Church of St Augustine in São Paulo.
Fr Mariano was an Augustinian priest of authentic evangelical simplicity. By living according to the spirit of St Augustine, he realized the fullness of his priestly and religious vocation.
Moved by love of God, he practised the Christian virtues to a high degree and faithfully observed his religious vows. He remains an important model for all simply because he did nothing extraordinary; rather, it was through the faithful fulfilment of his daily duties that he reached the heights of sanctity.
The cause for Mariano de la Mata Aparicio's Beatification was officially opened with the nulla osta on the part of the Holy See on 14 December 1996. On 20 December 2004 Pope John Paul II, recognizing his heroic virtues, declared him Venerable.