The beatification of Fr Mariano de la Mata O.S.A. (1905-1983) took place on 5 November 2006 at Sao Paolo, Brazil. It marked the Church's recognition of his saintly and generous life. He was an Augustinian missionary in known for his faithful observance of his religious obligations, for the loving way in which he ministered to his people, for his oneness with nature and for his special concern for the needs of the poor.
Mariano de la Mata Aparicio was born in Barrio de la Puebla, Palencia, in 1905. He was raised in a profoundly Christian family. When he entered the Order of Saint Augustine in 1921, he was the fourth brother in his family to do so. He undertook his studies in Spain at Valladolid and Santa Maria de la Vid in Burgos, and was ordained a priest. After ministering in Spain for two years, Mariano was sent to Brazil, where he continued to minister for the next fifty years. Mariano was diagnosed with cancer in early 1983. He underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour, but the cancer continued to spread. He died on 5 April 1983. His remains are preserved at the Church of Saint Augustine in Sao Paolo, Brazil. He was a member of the Vicariate of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which is within the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of Spain. Beatification and canonization
"Beatification" is the final step in the process that can eventually lead to "canonization", which is the official declaration of the Church that a person is a saint in heaven.
The process leading up to a beatification -- known as a "cause" -- includes an investigation into the candidate's virtues, writing, public statements, and reputation. The Vatican first authorizes a preliminary investigation in the diocese where the candidate died. If the results of that investigation are favorable, the case is forwarded to Rome, where a panel of theologians is formed to consider the cause. After studying the candidate's life, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints may prepare, for the Pope's approval, a decree that the candidate lived a life of "heroic virtue." With the issuance of that decree, the candidate is formally known by the title of "Venerable," and the approval of a miracle attributed to his beatification is then the only further requirement for his beatification. In the case of martyrs, who died for their faith, the requirement for a miracle is waived. After beatification, only the approval of a new miracle -- taking place subsequent to the beatification ceremony -- is required to pave the way for final canonization.
What follows is partly a translation from Spanish of a biography written soon after Mariano de la Mata O.S.A. died in 1983. Mariano de la Mata was born on 31st December 1905 in district of the Puebla, Palencia, Spain. Puebla was a remote village in the north of Palencia, and produced many members of religious orders, especially male and female Augustinians. Manuel and Martina, the parents of Mariano, were deeply religious. Mariano became the youngest of four of their sons to become Augustinians (the others were Leovigildo, Tomás and Balthasar de la Mata).
Mariano was the also the uncle of six Augustinians (Santos, Máximo, Mariano, Martina, Mari Paz and Socorro). After initial studies near Preceptoría de Barriosuso, Mariano went to the city of Valladolid to attend its Augustinian seminary, which was (and still is) conducted by the Augustinian Province of the Holy Name of Jesus (popularly called the “Philippine Province” because of its evangelisation in the Philippines, which still continues today).
He was vested in the habit of an Augustinian novice on 9th September 1921, and a year later made his First Profession of Augustinian vows. The Prior (religious superior) of the house (convento) to whom he declared his vows was Anselmo Polanco O.S.A., the future Bishop of Teruel (Spain), martyr of the faith during the Spanish Civil War and – like Mariano himself will be in November 2006 – beatified (declared Blessed) by the Catholic Church. http://midwestaugustinians.org/bl-anselm-polanco In 1926 Mariano was transferred to the Monastery of Santa Maria de la Vid near Burgos, Spain, where he completed his theological courses. He took Augustinian solemn vows on 23rd January 1927, and became a priest on 25th July 1930. He was briefly appointed to teach at an Augustinian school at Llanes (Asturias, Spain), and then in July 1931 was sent to the Augustinian Viceprovince of Brazil. He first worked in parish ministry for two years at Taquaritinga.
He was then sent to the Colegio Santo Agostinho in San Paolo, and later was its Administrator (1942-45) and Secretary. During the years 1945-1948 he led the Order of Saint Augustine in Brazil as the Prior Vice-Provincial, and later (1948-51 and 1960-63) was an official councillor to his successors in that office. After other appointments in Brazil, in 1961 he was sent back again to San Paolo as Vice-Prior of the Colegio San Agustín (1973-77), and to the work in the Augustinian parish surrounding it.
In character, Mariano is remembered as active and enterprising, generous, open and communicative, a person of affection, simplicity and kindness, with the smile always on his face. Although he had a strong temperament, he was incapable of hiding his feelings and the tears. He had great devotion to the Eucharist and to the Virgin Mary. His fellow Augustinians in Brazil remember with emotion that moment at which, after having his eyes covered for several days after the removal of cataracts in Belo Horizonte, Brazil he opened them to contemplate a picture of the Mary, the Mother of the Consolation, and cried and wept profusely like a boy.
To speak of Mariano is to remember a messenger of the charity: the friend of children and the poor. In the afternoons he was frequently seen in the streets of San Paolo, visiting the two hundred "Factories of Charity of Santa Rita", of whom he was many years the chaplain, where ladies made sweets and clothing for distribution to the poor. Many times an unexpected call for his aid resulted in his returning late to the college. He had great affection for his extended family back in Spain. To them he was an "uncle" par excellence.
Plants were another one of his great passions. He spoke with them, and caressed their leaves. He said that their petals reminded him of the greatness of their Creator. The terrace of the Colegio San Agustín in San Paolo owes much of this his care of the flowers and the birds. Late in January 1983 he was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery failed to stop its spreading, and he died of it on 5th April 1983. He was then seventy-seven years of age, and had spent sixty of those years in religious life. He was buried in a tomb in the Augustinian Church of San Paolo São Paulo), Brazil.
In San Paolo, the Order of Saint Augustine has a day-care centre, a youth centre and a professional school in his honour. The mayor of the city has named a street in his memory. The Spanish Government, through its General Consulate in Brazil, granted to him the medal, the Great Cross of Isabel the Catholic. His cause for canonisation (i.e., to be officially declared by the Church to be a saint) formally began on 31 May 1987.
The process advanced to the stage that an early ceremony in the long process took place in San Paolo (São Paulo) on 31st May 1997 in the presence of Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns. The next step was his being declared Blessed at a ceremony on 5 November 2006 in the Church of Saint Augustine, San Paolo, Brazil, the place of his tomb.
Mariano de la Mata. Website of the Midwestern Augustinian Province, USA. http://midwestaugustinians.org/bl-mariano-de-la-mata
Mariano. Californian Province website. http://osa-west.org/blessed-mariono-de-la-mata-aparicio.html