Blessed Elias del Soccorso (Matthew Nieves)
Yuriria (Guanajuato – Mexico), 1882 – March March 10, 1928
Blessed Elias was an Augustinian priest who was ordained in 1916, five years later he was appointed vice parish priest at La Cañada de Caracheo (Gto.-Mexico). In this center, poor and without health care and education, not only did he work in pastoral ministry but also in the manual labor to help his faithful nell’indigenza and poverty. The pastoral ministry of Father Nieves found many obstacles and difficulties because of the social situation dominated by hatred and rivalry that resulted in forms of anti-hard. It costs were the priests who were in the midst of poor people. P Nieves took place far from any revolutionary movement. Despite his timid nature, rather than to obey the government order to reside in cities, he settled in a cave near a hill, thus ensuring the faithful support of religion. The priest was illegal for 14 months. Upon arrest, when he was questioned he declared his religious condition. On the morning of March 10, 1928 it was announced that he had come the hour of his death. Fr Nieves asked for a moment of recollection, gave his blessing to the soldiers and began the recitation of the Creed, while they prepared their weapons to shoot them. His last words were: Long live Christ the King
Roman Martyrology: Near the city of Mexico Cortázar, Blessed Elias del Soccorso (Matthew Elias) Nieves del Castillo, a priest of the Order of Saint Augustine and martyr, who, while persecution raged, was arrested because of carrying on a concealed ministry, was shot and died due to hatred for the priesthood.
Matthew Elías Nieves del Castillo was born on the island of St. Pedro, Yuriria (Guanajuato – Mexico) September 21, 1882. He was the son of Ramon and Rita, a marriage of poor farmers of deep religiosity.
He had to delay his entry to the Augustinians, due to his poor health and for his condition of poverty. He became a priest came only in 1916, at 34. After his first pastoral experience, he was given the vicarage to the Cañada de Caracheo, a very poor village. There he played his short but intense life of a priest, working in full for his parishioners, instilling in them the comfort and the Christian hope and sharing all the hardships and sufferings.
But Mexico was experiencing one of the most tragic moments in its history. Released from Spanish rule in the war of independence in 1822, had never managed to walk towards a real national unity. Rich nations, which camped huge concession rights for oil and other resources of the subsoil, incite any internal division, which was a sounding board from the landowners and, unfortunately, even the high-ranking clerics, all in fierce defense of their ancient privileges. Against all of the weather was very turned on, resulting in forms of anti-wheat, of which the costs were often the priests who were in the midst of poor people. In practice there was a real power center, a security law, a hope of appeal and justice. Anyone who had had the opportunity to recruit people and to store weapons and the law had become “the law”. Hatred, rivalry, strife and cross-district without exploding as the bubbles in a mass of incandescent magma. The fear of all was that one day or the other could arrive, perhaps in the small town lost in the countryside, a group of those people.
It in fact arrived at Cañada de Caracheo. On March 7, 1928. But already a few years before, the government had adopted drastic measures in order to prevent any religious activity that was not under the direct control of the civilian government. Provisions that generally were not observed, however, allow any excess to those who had poisoned the tooth against religion. Generally the religious life continued more or less normally, but in the climate of increased risks. Everyone knew him. Went well until he went well, but if something is jammed, they were trouble.
Fr Elias, to be on the safe side, hid in a cave among the mountain, living as a hermit. He went out regularly to provide his parishioners all religious care, as if nothing had changed. Prudence, but without fear. His parishioners, who did not understand anything of the government, understood him, loved him more and more.
On March 7, then, came a detachment of soldiers to search, it seems, for certain cattle thieves. Given the late hour, they decided to stay in the parish church. But during the attempt to force the door the people rebelled and there was a shooting. The soldiers then asked for reinforcements and another detachment reached the country. On March 9 Fr Nieves, disguised as a peasant, but he himself was to confess when the general asked if he was a priest. He was immediately taken prisoner, along with two young peasants, the Sierra brothers, who tried to keep hidden.
On the morning of March 10, soldiers and prisoners went on to Cortazar, which depended on the Cañada. But the prisoners arrived there. Before the brothers touched Sierra. It was possible that the Father confessed them, then they were shot while shouting: “Long live Christ the King!”
Resumed the journey. Neighbors now Cortazar, the commander stopped the squad and said p. Elias sarcastically: “Now it’s up to you. Let us see if you know you know how to die during Mass”. The Father said: “It is right. To die for religion is a sacrifice pleasing to God.”
At his request to grant a half hour to prepare for the big step for him was as the offertory of the Mass with Jesus he was to shake the heaviness of the moment, saying: “Behold, I am ready.” When the guns were smooth, he said with decision: “Kneel down. I want to bless you as a sign of forgiveness.” They all knelt, except that the commander, who shouted, “I do not want blessings. Carabina me enough.” And as the Father had his hand raised to bless, the shot to the heart. The Father had time to shout too, clearly: “Long live Christ the King!”
Immediately, people took to worshipping him as a holy martyr.
His body was buried in un’apoteosi of the crowd, the ground soaked with his blood has been preserved as a relic, the place of the shooting was immediately his sanctuary. His sacrifice is an offering for the pacification of the people.
He was solemnly beatified October 12, 1997 by Pope John Paul II.
Author: P. Bruno Silvestrini O.S.A.
Source: Santi e Beati