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Silva, Atenógenes


Mexican archbishop and preacher; b. Guadalajara, Aug. 26, 1848; d. there, Feb. 26, 1911. He was the son of a Portuguese father, Joaquín Silva, and a Mexican mother, Ignacia Alvarez Tostado. Silva was ordained in 1871, received the doctorate in theology in 1878, then served for several years as professor and vice rector of the seminary. In 1880 he was sent to the parish of Zapotlán el Grande and in 1884, was named theologian of the cathedral of Guadalajara. He was made bishop of Colima in 1892, and in 1900, archbishop of Michoacán. This important diocese was made famous in its early days by the saintly sociologist Vasco de quiroga, whose name and works are still revered by the people and admired by scholars four centuries later. Silva was outstanding for his apostolic zeal, keen understanding, wide knowledge, generous and charitable spirit, and unusual talent for oratory. A notable sermon that he preached before a select audience in the Church of La Profesa in Mexico City, on the third centenary of St. Philip Neri in 1895, earned him an appointment to the Mexican Academy of the Language. He was made an Arcadian of Rome with the name Egeneo Senopeo. He promoted and took part in the Plenary Council for Latin America (Rome 1899). There, in the church of San Nicolás in Carcere before all the council fathers, he delivered a sermon on the Virgin of Guadalupe, the papacy, and the Mexican nation. Silva was devoted to the miracle of Tepeyac, and on another solemn occasion in 1904, in the Basilica of Guadalupe, he preached on the influence of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Mexican civilization. The same year, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, Archbishop Silva organized a great religious celebration and announced a literary contest. The prize went to a Catholic layman, Francisco elguero, for his important work La Inmaculada: Disertación histórico-filosófica, (Mexico 1995). The archbishop was instrumental in having the Holy See elevate to the rank of collegiate church the secular sanctuary of Pátzcuaro, where a statue of Our Lady of Good Health had been venerated since the time of Vasco de Quiroga. The solemn dedication was celebrated in 1908. The royal family of Spain sent gifts to mark the occasion, and Alfonso XIII awarded the Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic to Archbishop Silva. Many sermons, letters and other writings of the archbishop are found in separate pamphlets. A collection of his works appeared as Obras literarias, pastorales y oratorias (Guadalajara 1898). It contains two academic addresses, three funeral eulogies, ten sermons, eight pastoral letters and edicts, five allocutions, and six circular letters. Nothing seems to have been published later except for a few pastoral letters that are not readily available.

See Also: guadalupe, our lady of.

Bibliography: e. valverde tÉllez, Bio-bibliografía eclesiástica mexicana, 18211943, 3 v. (Mexico City 1949).

[a. junco]

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