Giménez Malla, Ceferino, Bl.

views updated


Also know as "El Pele," married gypsy, martyr, lay Franciscan; b. Aug. 26 (?), 1861, Fraga, Huesca, Catalonia, Spain; d. Aug. 9, 1936, in the cemetery of Barbastro, Spain. Ceferino (Zeferino) was one of over 500,000 gypsies to suffer racial and religious persecution in the 20th century. Following his marriage to Teresa Giménez Castro of Lérida, Ceferino moved with his new wife to Barbastro. The marriage, a gypsy union that was regularized in 1912 in the Catholic Church, resulted in no children of their own, but the couple adopted Teresa's niece Pepita. A successful horse trader, Giménez used his negotiating skills to settled disputes and gained a reputation for fairness. He was also known for his charity and piety. Ceferino's illiteracy and humility belied his great wisdom, which led even his bishop, Blessed Florentino asensio barroso, who was martyred hours after Ceferino and beatified with him, to seek his counsel. He was a member of the city council of Barbastro and, as one of the first 159 Franciscan tertiaries of Barbastro (initiated by the Capuchins in 1926), elected to the advisory council of the society. Ceferino was arrested for defending a young priest who was being harassed. During his 15-day imprisonment in the Capuchin friary with 350 other detainees, Ceferino incited the guards by daily praying the Rosary. Despite the intervention of Eugenio Sopena, an influential member of the revolutionary committee and Ceferino's neighbor, he was shot by a Republican firing squad for refusing to renounce his faith. Eighteen others, mainly priests and religious, died with him and were buried in unmarked graves. Ceferino's cause was opened in Barbastro in 1993, and the decree of martyrdom was issued in Rome on Dec. 17, 1996. When Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 4, 1997, he became the first gypsy blessed and second lay martyr of the Spanish Civil War. Patron of gypsies.

Feast: Aug. 2.

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 12 (1997) 599. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 42 (1995): 8.

[k. i. rabenstein]