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Unamuno (2010) Saint Manuel Good Martyr

Unamuno (2010) Saint Manuel Good Martyr

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Published by LF619513
Unamuno (2010) Saint Manuel Good Martyr
Unamuno (2010) Saint Manuel Good Martyr

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Published by: LF619513 on Dec 01, 2013
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12/01/2013

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Saint Manuel, the Good, Martyr
by Miguel de Unamuno
Translated from the Spanish by Nancy Mayberryfor the use of students in Spanish 2665 Now that the bishop of the diocese of Renata, to which my village of Valverde de Lucerna belongs, isgoing about, so they say, beginning the process for the beatification of our Don Manuel, or rather, Saint Manuelthe Good, who used to be our parish priest, I want to leave written here, by way of confession, (and only Godknows and not I what fate it may have), everything that I know and remember about that motherly male whofilled the most intimate part of my life and soul, who was my true spiritual father, the father of my soul, of myself, Angela Carballino. The other one, my flesh and temporal father, I scarcely knew, since he died when I was very young. I knowthat he had arrived in our Valverde de Lucerna as a stranger, that he settled here upon marrying my mother. Hebrought with him some few books, the Quixote, works of classical theater, some historical novels, histories, theBertoldo, all mixed up, and as a daydreaming child I devoured those books, almost the only ones in the wholevillage. My good mother scarcely told me any facts or sayings of my father. Those of Don Manuel, whom likethe whole village she adored, with whom she was in love- of course most chastely- had wiped out the verymemory of those of her husband. Each day, on praying the rosary, she fervently commended him to God. I remember our Don Manuel as if it were yesterday, when I was a child of ten, before they took me off tothe religious school in the cathedral city of Renada
 
. Our priest was probably about thirty seven years old then.He was tall, thin, erect, and carried his head like our Buitre
 
Peak
 
carries its crest, and there was in his eyes theblueish depth of our lake. He attracted the glance of everybody, and after that, their hearts, and he, upon lookingat us, seemed to look straight through our flesh like glass, to look at our hearts. We all loved him, but especiallythe children. What things he told us! They were things, not words. The town began to reek of holiness; one feltfull and drunk with its aroma. It was then that my brother Lazaro, who was in America
 
from where he regularly sent us money so thatwe might live in seemly comfort, made my mother send me to the religious school, so that I might complete myeducation outside of the village. And this, even though he didn’t think much of nuns. “But since there”, hewrote us, “there are no progressive lay schools as far as I know, and even fewer for girls, one must make dowith what there is. The important thing is that Angelita be polished and not continue among the crude villagegirls.” And I entered the school intending at first to become a teacher in it, but then I got tired of pedagogy. At school I met girls from the city, and became friends with some of them. But I kept in touch with thethings and the people in our village, from which I received frequent news, and now and again a visit. And thefame of our parish priest reached even as far as the school, and he began to be talked about in the cathedral city.The nuns questioned me unceasingly about him.1 From the time I was very young on, I don’t know exactly how, I fed on curiosities, worries, and anxieties,caused at least in part because of that jumble of books belonging to my father, andall of it increased in school, in my dealings especially with a friend who became extremely fond of me, and whosometimes proposed that we should enter the same convent together, swearing eternal sisterhood and evensigning the vow in our blood. Other times she spoke to me with her eyes half closed of boyfriends, of matrimonial adventures. Actually, I have not heard from her again nor do I know her fate. And when we talkedof Don Manuel, or when my mother told me something about him in her letters, (and he was in nearly all of them) that I used to read to my friend, she used to exclaim as if in ecstasy, “How lucky you are my friend, beingable to live near a saint like that, a real live saint, of flesh and bone, and be able to kiss his hand! When youreturn to your town, write lots to me, lots and lots, tell me all about him!”
http://www4.gvsu.edu/wrightd/SPA%20307%20Death/SaintManuelBueno.htmAccessed 11/21/2013
 
 I spent some five years in the school, that now seems lost as if in a morning dream in the far off mist of memory, and at fifteen I returned to my Valverde de Lucerna. Now it was all Don Manuel, Don Manuel with thelake and the mountain. I arrived anxious to meet him, to put myself under his protection, so that he might setout for me my life’s direction. It was said that he had entered Seminary to become a priest with the goal of taking care of the childrenof one of his sisters, recently widowed, to serve as their father; that in seminary he had distinguished himself byhis mental acuity, and his talent, and that he had rejected offers of a brilliant ecclesiastical career because heonly wanted to stay in Valverde de Lucerna, a village stuck like a broach between the lake and the mountain thatwas reflected in it. And how he loved his people! His life was fixing broken marriages, reconciling wild sons to theirfathers, or reconciling fathers to their sons, and especially consoling the bitter and bored, and to help all die agood Christian death. I remember among other things, that when the disgraced daughter of tía Rabona returned from the city,(the daughter who had ruined herself and returned single, hopeless, bringing a little son with her), Don Manuelnever stopped until he had her old boyfriend Perote marry her, and recognize as his own the little child, tellinghim: “Look, give this poor little one a father, for he only has the one in heaven...” “But Don Manuel, I’m not the guilty one!” “Who knows, my son, who knows....! and especially because its not a question of guilt.” And now poor Perote, an invalid and paralyzed, has as his staff and comfort in life that son, the onewho, having caught the holiness of Don Manuel, he recognized as his son, even though he was not.2 On St. John’s night, the shortest night of the year, there is accustomed to come to our lake all the poorold ladies and not a few little old men who are considered possessed of the devil, and who seem really only tobe hysterics, and sometimes epileptics, and Don Manuel undertook the task of trying to alleviate them and if possible cure them. And his presence was such that his looks, and especially the extremely sweet authority of his words, and above all his voice- how miraculous was his voice- that he succeeded in getting surprising cures.So his fame increased, which attracted to our lake and to him all the sick people in the district. And once amother arrived asking him to do a miracle for her son, and he answered her smiling sadly; “I do not have permission from our lord bishop to perform miracles.” He was especially careful that every one should be clean. If someone wore a torn outfit, he would say tothem, “Go see the sacristan, so he can mend that.” The sacristan was a tailor. And when they would go tocongratulate him on New Years day, since it was his saint’s day, (his patron saint was Jesus Our Lord), DonManuel wanted everyone to come dressed in a new shirt, and if someone did not have one, he himself gavethem a present of one. He showed the same affection for everyone, and if he paid more attention to some, it was to the mostunfortunate, and to those that seemed most rebellious. And as there was in the town a poor boy retarded sincebirth, Blasillo the fool, he was most affectionate to him and even succeeded in teaching him things that seemeda miracle that he had been able to learn them. And the little ember of intelligence that still remained in theretarded boy was lit when he imitated like a poor monkey Don Manuel. His marvelous feature was his voice, a divine voice that made one weep. When on officiating at a highor solemn mass, he intoned the preface, the church trembled and all who heard him were moved to their very
 
core. His chant, going out from the church went to sleep on the lake and at the foot of the mountain. And whenin the sermon on Good Friday, he cried out that “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” a deeptremble went through the town as over the waters of the lake on the days of the north wind. And it was as if theyheard Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, as if the voice broke from that old crucifix at whose feet so manygenerations of mothers had left their anxieties. So that once, when his mother heard him, Don Manuel’s, shecould not hold back and from the part of the church in which she was seated, she cried “My Son!” And therewas a shower of tears from everyone. It was as if they believed that the maternal cry had broken forth out of thehalf open mouth of that statue of the Sorrowing Virgin - her heart traversed by seven swords- that was in one of the chapels of the church. Then Blasillo, the fool, went around repeating in a pathetic tone, through the bywaysand like an echo, the “My God , my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and in such a way that on hearing himeveryone broke out in tears of pleasure at the imitative triumph of the poor foolish boy. His dealing with the people was such that no one dared to lie in front of him, and everyone, withouthaving to go to the confessional, confessed to him. It reached such a point that when once a repugnant crimewas committed in a nearby town, the judge, an insensitive man who did not know Don Manuel well, called himand said to him: “Lets see if you, Don Manuel, can make this bandit tell the truth.” “So that you can punish him?” replied the holy man. “No, sir judge, no, I don’t get the truth fromanyone that might perhaps lead to his death. There between God and him...Human justice does not concern me.Judge not lest you be judged., Our Lord said.” “But its just that I, sir priest...” “Understood; render, sir judge, unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and I will give unto God that whichis God’s.” And upon leaving he looked piercingly at the presumed criminal and said to him; “Be careful that God has pardoned you, for that is the only thing that matters.”3 In the town everyone went to mass, even if they only went to hear and see him at the altar where heseemed to be transfigured, his face lighting up. There was a holy practice that he introduced into the popularrite, and that was, gathering in the church the whole town, men and women, old and young, some thousandpeople, we used to recite in unison, with one single voice, the Creed: I believe in God the Father Almighty,Creator of heaven and Earth, and what follows. And it was not a chorus but a single voice, a voice simple andunited, all founded on one and acting like a mountain whose crest, lost sometimes in the clouds, was DonManuel. And upon arriving at the part -I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting-, thevoice of Don Manuel plunged as into a lake, into that of the whole town, and it was there that he grew quiet.And I heard the bells of the village that they say is submerged in the lake bed here, bells that they say are alsoheard on the eve of St. John’s
 
day and they were those of the submerged village in the spiritual lake of ourtown. I heard the voice of our dead who were resurrected in us in the communion of saints. Afterwards, uponlearning the secret of our saint, I understood that it was as if a caravan going through the dessert after the leaderhad died, upon approaching the end of their course, took him on their shoulders in order to put his lifeless bodyin the promised land. Most did not want to die unless holding onto his hand as if to an anchor. Never in his sermons did he set himself to preach against the unrighteous,- masons, liberals or heretics.Why, if there were none in the village? Nor even against the wicked press. Instead, one of his most frequentthemes in his sermons was against gossip or slander. Because he forgave everyone and everything. He did notwant to believe in the bad intentions of anyone.

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