(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will declare Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos of Colombia “Blessed”, which is a step away from final sainthood. Both were martyred for their faith in the last century. The Pope will beatify them at a morning Mass on Friday in Villavicencio, some 94 kms southeast of the Colombian capital Bogota.
On July, Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing the martyrdom of Fr. Ramirez, killed during the outbreak of Colombia’s civil war known as “La Violencia”.
Refused to abandon his people
Born in La Plata on Oct. 23m 1899, Fr. Ramirez was ordained to priesthood in 1931. He served as the pastor of Chaparral then of Cunday and later of El Fresno before opting for Armero, where he was killed on April 10, 1948. When violence between the liberals and conservatives erupted, families in Armero offered to smuggle him out of the area to safety but he refused to abandon his people.
The rebels burst into his church and dragged him to the town square where they lynched and mutilated him.
Trinitarian Father Antonio Doménico Sáez Albéniz, the postulator or promoter of the cause of beatification and canonization of Fr. Ramirez, told Vatican Radio that he was a very faithful priest given much to prayer, especially to the Eucharist, and quite demanding in questions of morality of the people. As he was about to be taken to the town square by the rebels, he wrote down his last declaration, thanking the bishop for having posted him in Armero and expressing his gratitude to the Church. He said he was ready to shed his blood for his people.
Fr. Saez said Fr. Ramirez is a martyr because he died for his faith and for justice. With several Protestant sects and Communists active there, Armero was not a particularly religious town. Several priests assigned to Armero before him had given up and gone away but Fr. Ramirez volunteered to go there.
Faithful to the last
The postulator said that with the eruption of violence in 1948 in Bogota, Armero also was involved, with Fr. Saez was accused of everything. Some women persuaded him to go into hiding, but the priest said he had “consulted his Lord” who asked him to say on. While being dragged to the square amidst insults, Fr. Ramirez forgave those about to kill him, Fr. Saez said. The messge of Fr. Ramirez is one of fidelity, which he expressed in the profound awareness of his priesthood, Fr. Saez added.