Our regular readers will know yours truly has a great deal of fondness and admiration for the Passionist Fathers who set up in the Basque Country, and then, 100 years ago, set off to cross the ocean and carry out incredible social and religious work in the Peruvian Amazon.
We recognize that these feelings stem from the attitude and commitment this religious order has had with those who were persecuted by Francoism in the hardest post-war years. Some of our families came to experience those good works first hand.
Thanks to this blog, and our relationship with the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aránzazu of Lima – Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea (closely linked to those Passionist Fathers in Peru), we’ve gotten to discover some of that amazing work these Basque missionaries have been doing since the first twelve arrived in the jungle in 1913.
We’ve brought you several articles covering just some of their hard work in South America, as well as the profound transformation they underwent when they realized that their original mission to save souls was not why they were there, but rather to fight for human respect and dignity.
Just eight years after their arrival, on February 27, 1921, Pope Benedict XV created Apostolic Prefecture of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows in Marañón, which was later renamed the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas. And Basque Passionists were charged with running and caring for it.
Since its creation, those leading the Vicariate have all been Basques, as well as the core group of Passionists who have worked there:
- Atanasio Celestino Jáuregui y Goiri, C.P. † (1921 – 1957)
- Gregorio Elias Olazar Muruaga, C.P. † ( 1957 – 1972)
- Miguel Irízar Campos, C.P. † (1972 – 1989) (later Bishop of Callao)
- José Luis Astigarraga Lizarralde, C.P. † ( 1991 – 2017)
Currently at the helm is Jesús María Aristín, who we’ve had the good fortune to get to interview.
As we were saying, next February will be the celebration of the 100th anniversary of starting that extraordinary task entrusted to the Basques, which they have fulfilled so successfully. We’re going to closely follow all the event held to commemorate this anniversary.
This is going to be the entry where we’re going to post all the bulletins the Vicariate is going to publish to mark these one hundred years of history in service to the people of the Amazon.
This is not the first time we’ve said this: the Basque diaspora and its role in the world is a fundamental, vital part of our nation, and in it, one of the least well known, despite its utmost importance, is the work of the Basque religious men and women in the worst of conditions.
We’re sharing this amazing story, convinced of the great importance of the work of these Basques, and working to ensure that this centenary has the impact it deserves.
Actualización 6 de mayo de 2020
Two Dates to Remember in May
Both became Passionist Fathers, going on to become bishops in the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas, where Basque Passionist Fathers have been doing extraordinary work for over a century.
On this occasion, we are going to remember José Luis Astigarraga Lizarralde, who was a leading figure in one of the most symbolic events in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aranzazu in Lima.
From a young age, he felt his religious calling, and that led him to an education in the diocese seminary and then to joining the Passionist Congregation.
He decided to be a part of the intrepid group of Basque missionaries who have been taking their calling to the whole world for centuries. His destination was to be the same as all Basque Passionists’ since 1913: the Peruvian Amazon.
José Luis Astigarraga C.P. joined the other Passionists, most of whom were Basque, who were, and are, carrying out incredible social and educational work in the Amazon jungle.
In 1991, Pope John Paul II renamed it the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas, and it is now about to celebrate its 100th anniversary: founded by Benedict XV in 1921, it has since always had a Basque Passionist father as Bishop.
Even its Episcopal consecration was a “Basque affair”, because alongside apostolic nuncio Monsignor Luigi Dossena were two Basque Passionist co-consecrators, the Prelate of Moyobamba, Monsignor Venancio Celestino Orbe Uriarte, and the Bishop Emeritus of El Callao, Monsignor Miguel Irízar Campos.
For the events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aranzazu in Lima, founded in 1612 by the “members of the Basque nation” in that city, the replica of the icon of Our Lady of Aranzazu was brought from Yurimaguas to Lima, to preside over them.
This icon of the Andra Mari de Aranzazu has a very special history, as it had, since 1969, accompanied Antonio María Artola C.P. throughout his life as an academic, researcher, and professor. He traveled with it from Aranzazu to Jerusalem, Rome, Bilbao, and Lima. After arriving in Peru, Father Artola gave it to the Bishop of Yurimaguas to accompany them in their mission as Passionists.
On its return trip from Yurimaguas to Lima, the figure of the Virgin was wrapped up in an ikurriña, which had been donated by the Basque Center of Santiago, Chile, another place where there is a Guild of Aranzazu. This figure will next travel to Mexico City, to accompany the heirs of the Guild of Our Lady of Aranzazu of Mexico, as they celebrate their 350th anniversary. This will be but the first leg of a journey that will attempt to have the icon pay visit to all the places where there is a brotherhood or guild in her patronage.
The presence of Andra Mari was one of the events paying homage to the Basques who for those four centuries kept the essence of “everything Basque” alive there. Additionally, a sapling of the Tree of Guernica, the sacred tree of the Basques, ceded by the Basque Center of Santiago, Chile, was planted. Different talks about the Brotherhood were also given.
Bishop José Luis Astigarraga himself authorized the re-publication of the novena the Brotherhood dedicated to Our Lady of Aranzazu in the 19th century.
José Luis Astigarraga, during his life in Peru, encouraged the best part of the Basque heritage in the part of the world. He is a role model for us all.