Cubans may have their second blessed in November


Venerable Jose Olallo Valdes, a religious from the Brothers of St. John of God, may become Cuba's second person to be proclaimed a blessed in November 2008, say sources from the Cuban Archdiocese of Camaguey.

Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez recently led a pilgrimage to the church of St. John of God, where the remains of the Venerable are buried.

At the end of the pilgrimage, which included a cultural and artistic festival, Archbishop García described Br. Olallo Valdes as "an accomplished example of the identity and tradition of our city and Archdiocese". The Archbishop also encouraged the artists participating at the cultural festival in honor of the future Blessed to "use your art to highlight the personality of this humble religious."

Born from unknown parents, Jose Olallo Valdes was born on February 12 1820 and a month later was left at the Orphanage of San Jose in Havana. He was baptized just days later on March 15.

Br. Olallo Valdes joined the Order of St. John of God at a very young age and was soon moved to Camaguey to assist the victims of the 1835 cholera epidemic as a nurse.

During his time in Camaguey, he suffered the consequences of the anti-religious laws inspired by the Free Masons that suppressed all religious orders in Spanish territories. Nevertheless, he remained faithful to his vows and, due to his popularity with the people, civil authorities allowed him to remain at the hospital, thus becoming the only remaining Brother of St. John of God remaining in Cuba.

After 54 years of devoted service to the sick and the poor, which included times of both famine and war, Br. Olallo Valdes passed away on March 7 1889. His death so moved Camaguey's citizens, that a vast multitude attended his funeral and mourned his passing.

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