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Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People


Patron Saint of the Rom and Sinti


Zefferino Giménez Malla
(1861-1936), known as "El Pelé", was born of a Catholic gypsy family. He lived like a nomad for forty years and then settled in Barbastro (Spain). He married but had no children. Although he was illiterate, he taught the gypsy and non-gypsy children the first elements of Christianity, using the Bible above all, and he trained them to pray daily.
He made peace among the Kalňs (Spanish nomads) and resolved their disputes with others. He was honest in his work as an animal trader. In 1926 he became a member of the Franciscan Third Order. He belonged to Conference of St. Vincent De Paul. In 1931 he began participating in "Night Adoration".
During the religious persecution, he defended a priest who was being brought to jail. He too was arrested and then killed in Barbastro together with many priests, brothers and lay persons. He died shouting, "Long live Christ the King!", holding a rosary in his hands. His body was thrown into a common grave and never found again. In 1997 John Paul II proclaimed him Blessed.

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