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November 1

St Jerome Hermosilla - November 1

​Saint Jerome Hermosilla

Bishop, Martyr

(1800 – 1861)

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Saint Jerome Hermosilla

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Jerome Hermosilla (Jerónimo Hermosilla) was born in Santo Domingo de la Calzada in northern Spain on September 30, 1800. He is the youngest of a modest family of nine children from the province of La Rioja.

Orphan at 10

Jerome lost his father at the age of ten. He lived in Cordovín between 1809 and 1814 where his mother worked as a servant of the parish priest. At the age of fifteen, Jerome entered the Dominican convent of Valencia, the convent of St. Dominic. In 1820, he was forced to interrupt his ecclesiastical studies to join the troops of Ferdinand VII.

Ordained and Missionary in East Tonkin (Vietnam)

Jerome joined the Dominican novitiate. He embarked in 1824 from the port of Cadiz towards Manila, where he arrived in March 1825.  Jerome continued his studies with eleven confreres. He received the sacrament of holy orders in 1828. Jerome was appointed to the mission of East Tonkin where he arrived on May 15, 1829.  Jerome succeeded Saint Ignatius Delgado as vicar-apostolic.

Persecuted Missionary

Jerome began a life of mission in difficulties at a time of persecution against Christians. He often had to change his name and place of residence to carry the divine word and the sacraments. The persecution began especially in 1832 and lasted with more or less intensity for thirty years.

Bishop of Tonkin

In April 1841, Jerome was consecrated bishop for the Apostolic Vicariate of Tonkin (now diocese of Hải Phòng). Like the early office of pontiff, this position was practically synonymous with martyrdom; several of those appointed as bishop of Tonkin did not even live to be consecrated.

Preserved Relics

Bishop Hermosilla made it his first task to gather the relics of his two immediate predecessors. Bishop Delgado had been thrown into the sea, but some of the relics were recovered by a fisherman. These relics and the remains of other martyrs were carefully preserved by Hermosilla, who also committed to paper their passions according to the accounts of eye-witnesses. This effort took real courage – to carefully record the terrible tortures that he well knew were awaiting him.

Worked Secretly

The twenty years of Bishop Hermosilla’s life in Tonkin were comprised of constant heroism, flight, and unswerving faith. He had to hold his flock together, while some of his finest assistants fell at his side. His work had to be accomplished entirely in secret. There was always the possibility that a recent convert or his pagan family might betray the hiding place of the priest, perhaps under torture. It was a weak Christian who finally betrayed Hermosilla and his fellow Bishop Valentin Berrio Ochoa.

Betrayed and Arrested

The two bishops had been hidden on board a ship en route to a place where they were needed to give the sacraments. The betrayer identified them to the ship’s captain, who summoned the soldiers. A group of Christians almost succeeded in rescuing them, but they were betrayed a second time and placed in chains. Jerome was arrested on October 20, 1861, by order of Tu Duc, with his faithful secretary and catechist Joseph Khang.  Three hundred men were sent to escort them to the capital.

Wouldn’t Step on Cross

When they arrived at the entrance of the city, Jerome saw that the mandarins would be require them to step upon a crucifix laid in the road. Heavily manacled and weak from torture, the two bishops fought so vigorously against committing this sacrilege that the soldiers finally relented and removed the cross. Shortly thereafter the bishops, two other Spanish Dominicans, and a number of native Christians were led in triumphant procession to the place of their execution, where they were put in cages. Christian witnesses reported that the martyrs were so rapt in prayer that they seemed unaware of the screaming crowds, trumpeting elephants, and other noisy animals surrounding them.

His Martyrdom

In turn, Jerome along with each of the other martyrs were bound, tied to stakes in the ground, locked in a small cage.  Jerome was beheaded on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1861, with his colleagues Saints Valentin Berrio Ochoa and Pierre Almató in the Hải Phòng province of Vietnam. Their remains were guarded for several days to prevent other Christians from claiming their relics.

Jerome is currently the only saint of La Rioja region of Spain. He is considered one of the Martyrs of Vietnam whose Feast Day is celebrated on November 24.

Born:                   September 30, 1800 in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Old Castile, Spain

Died:                   November 1, 1861 age 61 in Hai Duong, Vietnam

Beatified:           May 20, 1906 by Pope Pius X

Canonized:        June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:         November 1

Patron Saint:     None

Source:

Reflection

Saint Jerome Hermosilla, you did not care what it cost you to spread the word of God. You stood up for what was right and defended your religion by not stepping on the crucifix, even though this would eventually cost you your live. Saint Jerome followed in Jesus’ footsteps and did ordinary things in extraordinary ways like teaching others about the Catholic faith.

What ordinary things can you do today in extraordinary ways to imitate the life of Christ in your actions to others?

Prayers

Saint Jerome Hermosilla, please intercede and guide us in our every day life. May we be like you understanding the Good Word of God and pass it onto all others that we encounter in our daily life. May we reflect on the Gospel of God on our lives and be a role model for others as you were. Help us to stand up for what is right and defend our Catholic faith. Escort us with your intercession through the daily footsteps we take on our path to God in heaven.

Saint Jerome Hermosilla, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Catholic Online – St. Jerome Hermosilla

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Jerome Hermosilla

Saint for a Minute – Saint Jerome Hermosilla

WikipediaJerome Hermosilla

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